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Before State of the State, Utah Democrats Offer Alternative View

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Andrea Smardon
/
KUER
Utah House Minority Leader Brian King and Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis

Governor Gary Herbert will deliver his state of the state address Wednesday evening. Instead of responding to the speech, Democratic leaders offered up their views in a press conference before the main event.

Brian King is Minority leader in the Utah House of Representatives. While Governor Herbert touts Utah’s strong economy, King says working families are getting left behind.

“We hear from our governor on a regular basis that we are ‘the best managed state in the nation’ and that our low unemployment is a symbol of that, but having people in low wage jobs - in jobs that pay just enough to scrape by - that’s not good money management,” King says. “Utah wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of raising a family.”

King says a living wage is a priority for Democrats. A proposal by Millcreek Representative Lynn Hemingway would raise the state minimum wage to 12 dollars an hour. Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis says access to healthcare is also essential. Governor Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah proposal failed to win support by House Republicans last year, but Davis is still pushing for a full Medicaid expansion.

“After years of wrangling, Governor Herbert has nothing to show for our most vulnerable citizens,” Davis says. “Our residents have a right to access affordable healthcare, and we have a responsibility and we have the ability to grant that access.”

The Democrats also say they’re pleased that the governor is proposing an increase in funding for K-12 education, but they say more is needed to adequately compensate teachers.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Boston.com. Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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