On Monday, April 2, at about 11:40 am, I joined about 10 other delegates for a lunch meeting with Morgan Philpot, who is vying for the Republican candidacy for the governor of the state of Utah. I was a bit late. We met at Buca di Beppo restaurant (935 East Fort Union Boulevard, Midvale, UT 84047), the walls of which are covered with all sorts of Italian photos, paintings, and memorabilia. I had bread, water, and a Caesar salad.
Here is some of the information presented by Philpot during the meeting. As with all these State Delegate 2012 posts, I simply describe what was said, I don’t assess the merits of what is said. Also, it is always possible I misunderstood something I heard, or do not correctly recall what was said, or that I cannot read my own notes.
Background and Experience
Philpot stated that he does not come from a background of means. His earliest memories are of his father exchanging drugs with friends. He served in the state legislature (house of representatives) from 2000 to 2004. From 2004 to 2007 he was attended Ave Maria law school, a Catholic school in Michigan. Prior to commencing the current campaign, Philpot was general counsel for an advertising firm in Utah. Philpot is the father of five children. He is not a wealthy man, finances can be difficult, but he lives within his means, consistent with what he advocates for the government of the State of Utah. Philpot helped found the Conservative Caucus in the State of Utah.
Government is too big and is exercising inappropriate control over the lives of individuals. The size of government is increasing, and government control over individual lives in increasing. Philpot would shrink the size of government and cut costs.
Examples of Utah’s State Government Being Too Big
A federal study (I arrived too late to hear the source), reports that in 2012 the three biggest areas of government spending are health care, retirement programs, and interest on the national debt. By 2037, if present practices continue, the federal government will insolvent.
In 1910, overall government spending in the United States (all levels, federal, state, and local) was 10% of GDP. In 2012, total government spending is 43% of GDP.
In 2012, in Utah, total government spending is $23 billion in federal spending, and $23 in non-federal spending (i.e. both the state of Utah and local governments).
In 1992, Utah’s state government budget was $3.3 billion, and for 2013 the proposed budget (the largest ever) is $12.9 billion. The 2013 budget, proposed during a down economy, is not only the largest ever, but is also $1 billion greater than in 2012. Adjusting for both inflation and population growth, this is an increase of 244%. These figures do not include spending by local governments. During this time period, 1992 to 2013, Utah has increased spending at a greater rate than the federal government. During this period of time, individual income for Utahans increase 8% – - state government spending growth in Utah has increased at 30 times that rate.
Facts Behind Utah Being the “Best Managed State”
Since 2002, Utah took federal stimulus money, bonded more, and increased spending as much as increased Utah government revenues would allow.
How does Utah compare to California, which is not regarded as well-managed?
State government spending per person – - CA $9600, UT $6,600
State government debt as percent of Gross State Product – - CA 18%, UT 15%|
Percentage of population on food stamps – - CA 11%, UT 11%
Information of this kind is available at sunshinereview.org.
In 2012 the state of Utah ran at $ 1 billion deficit. Technically, under government accounting standards, the state is not considered to be deficit so long as it is able to pay interest on its debts, but the fact is that in 2012 the state of Utah spent $1 billion more than it took in, and did this by selling bonds.
In Utah, the governor proposes a budget, then the legislature establishes the actual budget. The $12.9 billion budget for 2013, cited above, was proposed by Governor Herbert.
For the past 20 years Utah has been one of the 3 best managed states, yet during that time the cost of government has increased 240% (adjusted for population grown and inflation). Given economies of scale, as the size of government increased, one would actually expect government to be less expensive.
Past Performance of Utah Governors on Economic Issues
When Philpot asks delegates to name a governor that left a legacy, they routinely say Norm Bangerter, no one more recent.
Jon Huntsman and Gary Herbert spent most of Utah’s rainy day fund. Each was a was a champion of accepting federal stimulus money.
Huntsman and Herbert Have Done More For Obama in Utah Than Anyone Else
No one has done more for Obama in Utah than Governor Herbert.
They accepted federal stimulus.
They created the Utah Healthcare Exchange (administered by now-Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell), which is a “mini Obamacare.”
They brought Common Core to Utah, an Obama education initiative. It is a national curriculum, not a local curriculum or program.
Herbert has brought policies that increase the growth and control of government.
Philpot View On Republican Opponents Other Than Herbert
He generally likes them all better than Herbert. Philpot appreciates their philosophies, but believes he knows what is actually going on.
When asked to contrast himself with Kirkham, Philpot stated: 1) Philpot would be more aggressive on land issues; 2) Philpot would be better at pursuing education issues.
What Are Some Examples of What Philpot Would Change?
It is not popular, but social services need to be cut, they are bankrupting Utah. There is no reason that their cost should keep increasing.
As a state legislator, Philpot had opposed spending the rainy day fund.
He would have vetoed the Utah Health Exchange legislation.
Why Have Government Officials Continued On A Course That Leads to Utah’s Bankruptcy?
Philpot suggested “normalcy bias,” a phenomenon in which individuals simply cannot comprehend that systems they have always counted on will fail. Two examples of individuals experiencing normalcy bias are: 1) some individuals in the towers after the planes hit them on 9/11, after beginning to exit the building, returned to their desks to turn off their computers; 2) during the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, some individuals turned and simply stared at the approaching wave.
Does Philpot Do More Than Just Say “No”?
In response to this question from a delegate, Philpot gave the example of the voucher program he sponsored as a legislator. The program was for special needs children. The state would spend $15,000 per year on education for each special needs child, parents could get a voucher for $3500 to $7000, with $8,000 to $11,500 staying “in the system,” and the parents putting in $12,000 of their own money. This effectively doubled funding for special needs children.
Common Core and Smart Balance are national education programs.
Conservatives say they will abolish the Department of Education, but then they take that department’s programs and use them in their states.
In Utah, the state spent $2 billion to promote these programs and train educators, characterizing these programs as local programs, when they are actually national programs.
In the education system, there are several layers of bureaucracy between the producers and consumers, which violates fundamental principles of economic efficiency.
Philpot would have signed the recent bill on sex education (Governor Herbert vetoed it). Philpot believes the current sex ed program results in people having to pay for a curriculum they believe is morally offensive, children whose parents opt out are stigmatized, some of the state money goes to Planned Parenthood in districts that have Planned Parenthood teach the course.
Under Utah’s constitution, education is free for every child, and is compulsory for every child (with the state defining minimum standards).
Governor Herbert Is Not Transparent In His Governance
Herbert’s reporting on his campaign finance meets legal standards, but not standards of transparency. His report indicated he paid $1.3 million to his longtime political consultant, which provides little insight into the actual nature of that expenditure.
In the UDOT bid scandal, the company with the best bid sued and was awarded $13 million in damages, the company with the third best bid (Provo River Construction) won the bid. Provo River Construction had donated $82,500 to Governor Herbert. Governor Herbert blamed the scandal on a UDOT employee who leaked bid process information, the employee was fired, but within the last two weeks the employee was re-hired. No one knows why Provo River Construction was awarded the bid. No one knows why the UDOT employee was re-hired.
90% of money spend and 90% of legislation is driven by special interests, and it should not be that way.
SB 116 is a guest worker program. It was sponsored by a legislator who is a dairy farmer. Rural Utah has a difficult time finding cheap and reliable labor. Philpot wants to repeal this legislation, which is of no effect unless the federal government chooses to grant waivers.
The fundamental problem with immigration in Utah: a society cannot have both a welfare state and allow illegal immigration.
Philpot would eliminate all non-work incentives for immigrants to come to Utah. To the extent legally possible, he would eliminate benefits to illegal immigrants. The federal government may threaten to cut off federal funding to Utah, but the federal government cannot do so. Philpot cited an example when in a lands issue dealing with scenic byways, the federal government threatened to cut off funding, the relevant Utah government official was going to give in, but Philpot showed the official how the federal government could not cut off funding, the official resisted, and the federal government backed off.
The “anchor baby” policy in place today was not contemplated by those who wrote the relevant amendment to the United States Constitution.
Public Lands Issue
In response to question, Philpot confirmed that $3 million had been allocated for Governor Herbert to litigate federal government land issues, but Governor Herbert diverted the funds.
Philpot also criticized Governor Herbert for having appointed former Salt Lake City Mayor, Democrat Ted Wilson, to a position with responsibility for Utah land issues.
On Thursday, April 5, 2012, from about 8:45 am until about 6:15 pm I and other delegates attended a Meet the Candidates event held at the Wells Fargo Building, NuSkin Room (2nd floor), 86 North University Avenue in Provo. I ate one banana, one small bag of Cheetos, one small bag of Sun Chips (original flavor), and one water – all provided at the event.
What follows is based on notes I typed during the meeting. These are not verbatim quotes, but attempts to capture the substance of what the candidate said. There is always the possibility that something below is incorrect so, if you see something that seems questionable, let me know, and give the candidate the benefit of the doubt.
Presentation and Questions
Morgan Philpot is a candidate to be the Republican Party’s nominee for the Governor of Utah. He appeared at about 1:00 pm. I had previously met with Philpot, so for the most part I did not take notes when he covered issues I’d heard him address previously.
The federal government has predicted its own demise. The first demise is 2025, the second is 2037 (CBO). By 2025, the federal government can afford only funding retirement, health care, and interest on the national debt. By 2037, the economy will not recover.
Tony Robins. A million seconds = 12 days. A billion seconds = 32 years. A trillion seconds: 32,000 years. Money is real. These figures give a sense at the rate at which the government is accumulating debt.
Reality – - Utah must act as a sovereign state. Jefferson said the states are the greatest protection against federal usurpation.
Delegate Question: How to do this specifically? Philpot: Governor will not micro-manage budget cuts, I’ll propose a realistic budget.
Delegate Question: Where will cuts some? Philpot: Cut budgets, the people in the progams will find the efficiencies, government has grown too much. Don’t expect the governor to micro-manage. Do not increase Utah’s reliance on federal spending, stop taking as much, and instead find efficiciencies. In doing so, Utah will face challenges from the federal government, but can resist. Find efficiciencies by following two principles: a) backpack funding, parents resposible for education and where that money goes; b) tackle social services, education.