Linnabary: Governor Cox’s State of the State Address Gives Me Hope


Claire Peterson

(Graphic by Claire Peterson | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ian Linnabary, Opinion Writer


On Jan. 20, Gov. Spencer Cox gave his second State of the State address in front of both legislative houses, the Utah Supreme Court and other dignitaries. This speech comes at a time when Utah is facing several complex issues. Cox understood the moment and the many issues on the mind of Utahns. So he opened his speech in a non-traditional manner, not acknowledging the multiple bodies and individuals in the room. Instead, he opted to just welcome “Utah’s public servants” and “fellow Utahns,” immediately diving into his solutions.

Like many State of the States, the Governor spent a large portion of time at the podium lobbying for his budget and agenda. The Governor’s speech addressed several key issues. But what perhaps made the Governor’s speech rememberable were the broader political and cultural themes he touched on.

First, on inflation, Cox says Utah must be a “bulwark against the bad decisions in Washington D.C.” Cox is correct to point out that the inflation Utah is experiencing is due to bad decisions made in D.C. As the speech continued, Gov. Cox touched on Utah’s status as the fastest-growing state in the nation. With that, he also said this to Utah’s new residents: “Please don’t attempt to change us into the place you just left. We cannot let our state become California.”

Earlier in his speech, Gov. Cox pointed out that Utah is in the most robust fiscal condition it has ever been, with the largest budget surplus in the state’s history and a massive $100 million tax cut for its residents. In this portion of his speech, Cox correctly points out that Utah is a state on the rise. With strong fiscal conditions and a winning economy, we should not be afraid of treading our path and continue doing this in what the Governor calls “the Utah Way.”

Gov. Cox further criticized the federal government. He correctly pointed out that if they continue to spend dollars borrowed from future generations recklessly, our duty here in Utah is to make investments that support our next generation. He emphasized support for great economic incentive and growth bills written by Majority Leader Mike Shultz and Rep. Stephen Handy and support for the Economic Opportunity Commission.

Gov. Cox emphasized the importance of the family institution. This incredible part of Utah’s culture has led it to great success. Despite this, some have voiced concern that the continued creation of family units could lead to overpopulation. But this shouldn’t be a concern. As the Governor correctly points out, experts now say that a declining birth rate is a “major risk facing human civilization.” If families are happy and healthy, society is better because of it.

While the governor touched on many more critical issues and broader political messages, what perhaps made this speech so impactful was Cox’s criticism of his own party, national politics and his invitation to look beyond our differences and work together.

First Cox, touched on election integrity. The Governor pointed out that “some in our country have found that unsubstantiated claims and flat-out lies are an effective way to destabilize our constitutional Republic and make it harder for their opponents to participate and vote.” This undoubtedly is a callout of Trump’s lies following his loss of the 2020 election.

But what perhaps was the most significant point of the night was Cox’s warning about “culture war,” which he described as toxic and destructive. Gov. Cox correctly points out that these cultural fights are a symptom of all politics being national instead of local. This toxicity has seeped into state legislatures, city councils and even school boards. As the Governor said, we “reject false choices,” furthermore “here in Utah, we protect religious liberties and love and proudly protect our LGBTQ neighbors. We deeply love our refugees and immigrants from all parts of the world and respect the rule of law,” and “we fully stand behind our beloved people of color and our beloved people in law enforcement.”

I left the House Chambers excited for Gov. Cox’s vision for Utah in 2022 and beyond. A Utah that doesn’t cave to the “cultural wars” fueled by toxic national politics, a Utah that protects and supports growing families, a Utah that invests in the future with dollars not borrowed from future generations. A Utah that all Utahns should be proud to call home.


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