Cox delivers State of the State to Utah’s young people

Jan 20, 2023, 9:15 AM | Updated: 9:32 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox delivered his 2023 State of the State address Thursday, speaking directly to Utah’s young people about his priorities to make the state a better place to live for them.

The governor urged the state’s children and youth to not allow fear to get in the way of their “pursuit of happiness,” but to have “faith in good things to come.”

“To anyone who believes that the next generation in Utah will be worse off than their parents, my message is simple: not now, not on our watch,” he said.

Since he announced his budget proposal at the end of last year, the governor has said he wants this year to be “the year of the teacher.” He reiterated his commitment to invest in teachers.

The call comes amid a heated bill on the House floor that attaches teacher salary increases to a controversial voucher program.

Cox acknowledged the state’s housing problems and the difficulty in finding affordable places to live. He said Utah needed to increase its supply if it wants to bring down the cost.

From housing he moved on to being good stewards of Utah’s land and resources, adding that “any discussion of stewardship in our desert climate must start with water.”

He pointed to a recent report that predicted the Great Salt Lake would disappear in five years.

“Let me be absolutely clear, we are not going to let that happen.”

Cox pushed back on criticism he’s received for asking people to pray for rain and expressed gratitude for the amount of snow Utah has received so far this year and the increase the lake has seen.

He said one of the biggest challenges young people face is the “proliferation and danger of social media.” He pointed to mental health impacts that he said have come as a result of social media use.

“This is unacceptable. In Utah, we’re done waiting for someone else to solve the problem.”

Cox also asked for legislators’ support of bills that help with domestic violence prevention and touted a new program headed by first lady Abby Cox that would help children in foster care.

“No matter the situation, every Utah child deserves a home filled with love and support. And I do mean every child.”

The governor’s focus on children comes amid a tense debate on three bills that would impact transgender children. SB16 includes a ban on sex-transition surgeries and a moratorium on puberty blockers for minors. The governor has said he would not veto it.

Democratic leaders responded to the state of the state with their own message focused on tackling many of the same issues including water conservation, education, domestic violence prevention and housing.

“Today our state is facing more challenges than ever. It is critical we take steps now to address our most pressing issues,” said House Minority Leader Angela Romero, a Salt Lake City Democrat.

In a combined video with Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla, they said Democrats were committed to being a part of the solution to many of the state’s problems.

“We believe everyone deserves the right to feel like they belong and are valued,” Romero said.

“And not simply just belong but have the opportunity to live their life with dignity and respect,” Escamilla said.

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Cox delivers State of the State to Utah’s young people