Please click below or scroll to the bottom of this page for Governor Huntsman’s Responses to Senator Mike Lee’s Candidate Questionnaire.
From Thursday, April 23 through Saturday, April 25 the Utah Republican Party will host its online convention where delegates from across the state will meet virtually to determine Utah’s Republican nominees for office.
Governor Huntsman appreciates the critical role delegates serve in Utah’s primary election process and we are working hard to reach each and every delegate leading up to the online convention.
This year’s convention will be conducted using Rank Choice Voting through the Voatz App. Online voting will begin on Thursday morning and go through Saturday. Please make sure to download and register with the Voatz App early so that you have plenty of time to cast your ballot before the deadline on Saturday. If you require any additional assistance, please reach out to campaign Field Director Julian Babbitt at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call us direct (801) 688-2020.
For more information about how online voting will work and the Voatz App, please click on the Convention Voter Guide button below.
For more information on the Ranked Choice Voting system that will be used at the online convention this year, please watch the brief video below.
For more details about Governor Huntsman’s plan to immediately address the disastrous impact of COVID-19 on working families and ensure that our state avoids economic collapse, please click the links below:
Governor Jon Huntsman’s Responses to U.S. Senator Mike Lee’s Candidate Questionnaire
Would you support legislation repealing SB 54, recognizing the right of political parties to determine the means by which they select and nominate candidates?
Reforms absolutely must be made to correct SB54. I have a strong respect for the caucus convention system, having been elected by state delegates twice previously. I have always enjoyed the opportunity to meet face-to-face with delegates and I appreciate their commitment to carefully consider the issues important to their neighbors while making serious efforts to evaluate the strengths of each candidate. The current pandemic has forced us to utilize digital meetings and telephone town hall meetings. They work in a pinch but I prefer to meet with delegates in person.
In this election cycle, I have opted to take both routes to the ballot. Not doing so would amount to campaign malpractice. The experience has been educational and it has become evident that the signature-gathering system has significant deficiencies and is in need of change.
The long term success of our party is dependent on our ability to help more Utahns be involved in our political system. Our goal must always be to help as many people as possible be a part of the election process. If elected, I look forward to taking my collective experience and working to reform Utah’s election system.
Utah has long been applauded as the best-run state in the nation, but we still have plenty of problems. What are the top five changes you would make to state law?
Dating back to my first term as governor, Utah has been regarded as one of the nation’s best-run states. While many of the fundamental elements of our state government are strong, problems ignored in good times have a way of becoming more apparent during times of difficulty.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the power given to governors is too broad. I support a wholesale review of the Emergency Management Act to see if we can better balance emergency powers with the economic and health needs of the people. The most substantive change I would make would be to implement limits on the time frame that emergency powers can be invoked before the legislature would need to weigh in.
I would support state policy based on the REINs Act to ensure that any regulations implemented at the state level that result in a cost of $10 million to the economy would have to also be approved by the legislature.
We need to update the incentives offered to businesses by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Those have been aimed at attracting businesses to our state rather than helping local businesses. As we look to reboot our economy post-pandemic, we will need to make smart decisions about how we target those efforts to return our state to prosperity in short order. We also need to retool incentives to help us extend prosperity to all parts of our state and not just along the Wasatch Front.
What would you change about our state’s public education system? Would you support a voucher system? What support should the state provide to parents who homeschool their children, either in connection with COVID19 or otherwise?
I support our public education system, but I also love innovation. As a dad of seven kids, one thing has become very clear to me: all kids learn differently. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all model that can always find that spark of genius that resides in every student. Some kids learn best in public schools, some in charter schools, some in accelerated courses, some while being homeschooled. We need to empower parents to find the right fit for their children. I won’t be satisfied with any education system that isn’t doing everything possible to help everyone reach their full potential.
This starts by keeping curriculum decisions at the most local level possible. The federal government has no business dictating what is taught and how it is taught, nor should they be allowed to withhold federal funding from states that stand up for their right to lead on education. When I was governor, I took Utah out of the federal No Child Left Behind program, much to the chagrin of then-President George W. Bush. You can expect me to stand in strong opposition to any effort by the federal government to meddle with Utah’s education system.
Likewise, the state should demand high-quality education, but must trust local school boards and educators to teach their students. We need to cut back on the standardized testing and give teachers more time to creatively engage with kids. Educators are at the crux of our public education system’s success or failure and we must treat them like the dedicated professionals they are. If we have all learned one thing during the pandemic, it’s just how tough it can be to inspire a kitchen table full of students — much less an entire classroom. Our teachers need on-going professional development opportunities and we need to be able to advance their compensation level without losing the best teachers to administrative roles.
COVID-19 has shown us that our rigidly structured K-12 system can be very agile when it has to be. Utah has been a leader of the school choice movement, and I would like to see us take some of the lessons we’re learning from this great experiment in remote learning and make permanent improvements to the system. This would mean more hybrid learning environments, more innovative options, and more opportunities to attract talent and resources to the project of educating the next generation.
The people of our state have made their position clear on vouchers, and I respect the will of the people. I would support a voucher system if Utahns requested one through a ballot initiative, in the same way they expressed their disapproval more than a decade ago. Nevertheless, the principle of expanding choice in education is one I feel strongly about. We have found success in using specialized scholarships, like the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship, which my administration implemented in 2005 to benefit students with special needs by making them eligible to receive private school vouchers of variable amounts.
Additionally, some states have taken heavy-handed positions to discourage homeschooling. All Utah families are homeschoolers amid this global pandemic, and it is worth exploring ways to recognize the new partnership that exists between parents and our professional educators. We could allocate funds within the education portion of the rainy day fund to provide direct payment assistance to parents who assume homeschooling responsibilities during times of declared emergencies. The state and local libraries could partner to make a wide range of curriculum materials available at no cost throughout the state.
Finally, the end result must be the focus of our educational priorities. We want highly skilled, well-rounded students who graduate with confidence and ability to compete in the global economy we now live in. Education must continue to evolve just like our economy is evolving. Students today are digital natives who are growing up in a world in which they can ask a question out loud to a disembodied robot and get an answer. Once fundamentals are established, we need less memorization and more emphasis on skills that will continue to be valuable even as technology increases. We can ensure our children are ready for the workforce by empowering businesses, educators, parents and students alike to reevaluate education priorities to ensure our students are prepared to succeed when they graduate.
The federal government owns roughly 2/3 of the land in Utah. While essentially no one in Utah wants to disturb national parks, national recreation areas, wilderness areas designated by Congress, or military installations, most federal land in Utah doesn’t fit into any of those categories, and keeping all of that land under federal control inflicts great harm on our state’s economy, environment, tax base, affordable-housing market, and public education system. How much of Utah should the federal government own, and what changes to state and federal law would you support in this area?
The federal government has far too much control of land in Utah and it is beyond time we make a change. More than 90 percent of federal-owned land is in the western U.S. I couldn’t agree more with Senator Lee that no one is arguing for a change of ownership when it comes to Utah’s National Parks, National Recreation Areas, declared wilderness and military installations. It is disingenuous to argue that we would even fall short of protecting those lands. But those areas make up only a fraction of the public land that should be controlled by the state and put to good use for the people of our state.
The federal government should return ownership and control of vast amounts of acreage in our state. If we left the national parks, national recreation areas, designated wilderness and military installations we would end up with only 15% of our state as federal land — a far more acceptable level. I would be open to various methods of ownership transfer from wholesale or something more methodical — like disposal of small acreages of land to the state and its subdivisions through acts like the Recreation and Public Purposes Act. I would also support exempting Utah from the Antiquities Act or expanding the acreage limits for the Recreation and Public Purposes Act. I would support amendments to the Recreation and Public Purposes Act that would make U.S. Forest Service lands eligible for acquisition and define affordable housing as an approved public purpose.
Public lands must be managed in a sustainable way and Utah needs a stronger voice in these decisions. The federal government has underfunded land management and failed to protect these lands from uncontrolled use, wildfire and invasive species. Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) is a disaster. In one year the Department of Interior paid $1.7 billion in 96 settlement agreements from sue & settle lawsuits to environmental groups ($17,708,333 average payout). The Dept. of the Interior also paid $550 million to 1,900 local governments in PILT funding ($289,473 average payout). At a minimum, Utah must be reimbursed under PILT and we must have a greater say in how federal lands are managed.
Additionally, COVID-19 has shown that our rural counties do not have the EMS and public health resources they need to support the burgeoning tourism economies. If the federal government and the public users of federal land are unwilling to fund the infrastructure required to maintain them, then we need to rethink the system.
The federal government does not have the capacity to own and properly manage so much of our land. It is beyond time to revisit the promises made in our enabling legislation, which said that much of the federal land within the state would eventually be sold and a portion of the proceeds would be set aside for the benefit of Utah’s public education system.
Utah is a public lands state. I hope it always will be. But not all of it has to be federal, and the environmental harm caused by decades of federal mismanagement suggests that we could do better.
What is the purpose of government?
Government in the United States exists to protect our God-given rights through the creation and administration of law.
Setting aside specific constitutional prohibitions, what are five things that no government, state or federal, should ever do?
Government shouldn’t create politically insulated and unaccountable administrative states.
Government shouldn’t oppress institutions of civil society.
Government shouldn’t recklessly subject future generations to the bondage of debt.
Government shouldn’t go to war without the explicit consent of the people – in the U.S. this means a declaration of war by Congress.
Government should not infringe upon state sovereignty.
Should any person in Utah be denied equal protection under the law, based solely on whether the person in question has been born?
Please identify five ways in which governments pick “winners and losers” in the economy, indicating whether you support or oppose each approach.
Tax codes have the tendency to become very complicated instruments for picking winners and losers. Tax codes should be designed to generate necessary revenue for the government, not for codifying advantages for some businesses over others.
Regulations written by unaccountable bureaucrats create winners and losers. Often the losers have little recourse for seeking redress of grievances under a regulatory administrative state.
The exercise of emergency powers where a political leader can define some economic activity as essential and other economic activity as non-essential is a dehumanizing process of creating winners and losers. There is dignity in all work.
Government has the tendency to pick itself as winner, imposing burdens on the private sector.
Government should not compete with the private sector where the market should rule.
Please explain why you are a Republican, what it means to be a conservative, and whether or to what extent the word “conservative” describes your approach to public policy.
I am a Republican because I believe the government is the servant of the people and that government closest to the people is best. I believe being conservative means we limit the role of government in society, so individuals, businesses, and civil institutions can thrive. A conservative approach to public policy asks “should the government be doing this?” then “should this government be doing this?” After these two questions are answered, the policy should be weighed on its merits to accomplish the public good through the least intrusive and least costly means necessary.
Do you support President Trump’s re-election?
President Donald Trump is my friend, he was my boss and I have endorsed his re-election. It was an honor to be trusted by the President with one of our nation’s most sensitive and important geopolitical relationships. I’ve said many times if you want to get to know a President, serve as his ambassador to Russia.
President Trump will be the nominee of our party and he is going to win the election this November. The U.S. economy is booming under his leadership and he has taken the important steps to keep us out of war. He has also shown the resolve to crack down on China for its rampant theft of intellectual property that hurts American business. If elected, I look forward to working with the Trump administration to benefit all Utahns.
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