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'Political Spitefest' 

Coal Priorities & UTA Budget

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Coal Priorities
Let's start with Utah's highest priority: keeping the coal industry chugging along. This week, the Oakland City Council held a special hearing on an ordinance to block coal and petcoke exports through the city, according to an update from the Sierra Club. It all has to do with a quiet little deal between port developers and four Utah counties that want to send up to 10 million tons of coal through Oakland each year. Hey, that should help the industry—send it to a place where no one cares or can do much about clean air. Maybe China. The problem is that the port sits on city-owned land, and Oakland is none too happy about the plan. And a Bay Area poll showed that 76 percent of the city's voters opposed the plan. Meanwhle, the federal coal-leasing program is under review, but The Hill reports that Republicans and coal interests oppose the review. No surprise there.

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'Political Spitefest'
And along the no-surprise line, health care—or the lack of it. The Salt Lake Tribune editorialized about the "political spitefest" that is hurting children not covered by the diminutive Medicaid un-expansion here. Utah's rate of uninsured kids is 9.4 percent, while the nation—benefitting from the expansion—fell to 6 percent. The Deseret News ran a front-page story on the shutdown of Arches, the state's only nonprofit insurance co-op. Critics, including Arches, say the state was too hasty in cutting off Arches, and in fact has spent $480,000 since December on a consulting firm to manage the liquidation. Some think the firm is dragging things out for personal profit, while providers have not yet been paid their due. And Arches was actually making headway, although two years was not enough time for them to build. Where ObamaCare is concerned, there will never be enough time for Utahns.

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UTA Budget
Well, you have to read both the Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune to get the whole story about the Utah Transit Authority and its bouncing budget. The D-News touts approving a budget with "more service," while the Trib notes that opponents worry extending the airport TRAX line will hurt bus service. The good news is that money approved in some counties will go to better bus service. But the question is now how to pay for the airport line. Supposedly everyone knew the present line was temporary, and an extension would be needed as the airport renovates. Too bad the plans weren't coordinated. Now the UTA board has to approve $4.3 million in design work. Back to buses. There will be more, but Weber County is a bit perplexed about whether they'll supersede other projects expected from the Proposition 1 money.

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