LOGAN – With primary balloting less than a week away, political newcomer Chris Wilson says he just plans to keep sprinting toward the finish line in the race for the GOP nomination in Utah’s Senate District 25.
“I’m learning a lot in this campaign,” Wilson laughs, “and one of those lessons is that there’s no rest to be had until the voting is over.”
Wilson is challenging Sen. Lyle Hillyard, a 36-year veteran of Utah’s Capitol Hill. Hillyard is one of the state’s recognized experts on appropriations and budget matters, but Wilson says the last special session of the Legislature demonstrated that Hillyard is out of touch on many issues.
Although Wilson has been critical of career politicians like Hillyard throughout his campaign, he has nothing but praise for the financial management displayed by Utah lawmakers during their fifth Special Session of 2020 on June 18.
During that session, legislators cut Utah’s proposed $20 billion budget for next year by about $800 million to accommodate a projected tax shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic while simultaneously increasing spending for what they identified as “high priority needs.” Those priorities included school funding, Medicaid growth, mental health care, affordable housing and homelessness.
Wilson said that budgetary balancing act was accomplished by wisely tapping only about a third of the emergency funds in the state’s so-called “rainy day” accounts.
The candidate also strongly approves of lawmakers’ generosity toward public education. State schools will see a 1.8 percent boost in funding through the weighted pupil unit and $50 million for anticipated increased enrollment next year. Utah schools are also in line for significant funding from the federal CARES Act, including $125 million for broadband and digital access.
“All of those (fiscal) measures adopted by the Legislature were steps that Lyle Hillyard said weren’t possible in our last debate,” Wilson noted, implying that the veteran lawmaker may not be living up to his reputation as a financial wizard.
“Education must remain a high priority (for Utah) …” Wilson emphasizes. “There is no better investment we can make in our future than by providing our teachers with the resources they need to implement innovative, personalized ways of teaching and preparing our children for the jobs of the future. Local control and supporting parents’ choice is more important now than ever as we apply the lessons we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on education.”
Wilson sees the smart management of growth in northern Utah as another long-term challenge on the horizon. He believes that bringing diverse voices together will produce powerful solutions to looming issues like infrastructure, air quality, wage enhancement and affordable housing.
But economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is Utah’s most immediate concern, Wilson adds.
He has already been involved in discussions about recovery efforts through his membership in the Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce, where he serves on the Board of Governors, the Economic Development Alliance and the Revenue/Taxation Subcommittee of the Legislative Affairs Committee.
Wilson also credits his management of Wilson Motor Company during the Great Recession of 2009 as hands-on preparation for meeting new economic challenges.
“I have developed the skills to weather the storms of economic uncertainty,” Wilson explains. “I believe this skillset and knowledge can be beneficial in the state Legislature to assist others through the economic recovery process.”