Is there any end to our appetite for solving problems that don’t exist? Now, Utah’s testing welfare applicants for signs of drug abuse. Gina Cornia of Utahns Against Hunger is right. “We can see that drugs are not a huge issue, but other barriers are. Barriers like a history of domestic violence, no GED or high school diploma,” she tells City Weekly. “If we’re going to look at barriers, it has to be all of them, not just the ones that are politically popular.” It’s not unlike the penchant for denying people the right to vote. While there is still no evidence of widespread voter fraud, states continue to narrow the voter rolls by purging them or making it almost impossible to cast a ballot. Utah has spent more than $30,000 screening 4,730 welfare applicants for drug use, but turned up only 12 positives.
Jim Dabakis may be a fine senator, but there are definitely problems surfacing with his dual role as Democratic Party chair. Party insiders are all a-twitter (yes, on social media) about Dabakis giving candidate James Rogers access to the party’s Votebuilder database. That’s because Rogers, running for Salt Lake’s District 1 seat, once listed himself as a Republican. Running for the nonpartisan city council, Rogers has obviously thought better of that, and has been drumming up Democratic support. There’s always the tension between parties in nonpartisan races, but it’s usually outside the party structure. The fact that Dabakis didn’t see any potential conflict between his Senate and party roles sets the stage for this kind of mischief.
Well, retiring Sen. Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake City, has nothing to lose by proffering losing legislation, so the least she can do is make a statement. And that’s just what a bill to provide more funding to schools would do. The bill would end the tax exemption for dependents, and you know how Utah loves dependents. By eliminating the exemption, the bill would raise about $400 million a year for schools, and could at least temporarily solve the problem that led to a different and more destructive approach: the plan to sell off public lands for development. The Utah Taxpayers Association hates Jones’ idea, seeing it as a tax increase, but hasn’t looked at the public-lands deal. It’s hard to understand how we can want to throw money at roads and transit, but not at education.