Gov. Spencer Cox delivered his State of the State address on Jan. 19 and addressed issues surrounding education, social media, family and more.
Though the State of the State address has been going on since 1852, “this is the first time that elected officials in the legislature have been accompanied on the House floor by their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and other young family members,” Cox said.
Cox said he wanted to speak to the youth specifically about the pursuit of happiness. Recent polling showed that more young people than ever before believe that “their generation will be worse off than their parents,” Cox said. He said the common root between his generation and the youth is fear.
“If there is one message that I can give to you, this is it. The future of our state is not written in the stars. It is for us, the free men and women of Utah to dictate our destiny,” Cox said.
Cox asked for the legislatures’ help to make 2023 “the year of the teacher” by investing in them. To do this, he called for at least a 5% increase in the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) as well as giving every teacher the largest raise in state history. One way everyone can help teachers is by thanking them, Cox said.
Cox also said he wants to ensure that the future generations are able to continue to call Utah their home by providing affordable housing for them to live in.
“We can build more and do it in a way that does not diminish the quality of life,” Cox said. He said he is working with Sen. Lincoln Fillmore and Rep. Stephen Whyte to help Utah increase the supply and reduce the cost of housing.
In response to a report that predicted the Great Salt Lake would dry up in five years, Cox said, “Let me be absolutely clear, we are not going to let that happen.” A few months ago, Cox asked for $5 million for flood mitigation which he hopes to be able to use with the snow pack Utah has received.
He also proposed another $500 million in water conservation investment. In addition, he asked for the people of Utah to come together to ask for relief from the drought. “You see, I believe that God can fill the lake. But if not, then we must,” Cox said.
Youth and social media
Cox said one of the biggest challenges young people face is the dangers of social media. He is working with the legislature to prevent social media companies from collecting kids’ data.
“To the social media companies who have been reckless in protecting our youth, Utah parents are putting you on notice. If you insist on fighting us, be assured that we are more than ready for a fight and we will win. Or you can join us and be a part of the solution,” Cox said.
Cox said he and his wife are taking on a bold goal to support foster families and recruit more families to take in foster children. In addition, he plans to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months and asked people to help him to do more for people who are victims of domestic violence.
Cox said the best way Utah can support families is to return more of their tax dollars. He proposed $1 billion in tax relief for the people of Utah. “We can and must enable Utahns to keep more of their hard earned dollars to combat the rising cost of living,” Cox said.
He said real happiness comes from faith, family, friends and work that serves others. He asked young people to embrace the pursuit of happiness like never before while the government works to protect their right to pursue happiness.
“May God bless the great state of Utah and the young people that make it great,” Cox said.