Park Record 2018 Voter Guide: Utah House District 54
October 17, 2018
With Election Day approaching, and mail-in ballots on their way to residents, The Park Record asked candidates to answer a series of questions in their own words in order to help voters make informed decisions. View the answers of candidates in other races here.
What are your qualifications for office and why are you running?
Tim Quinn (Republican, incumbent): I’m seeking re-election because I feel strongly about the Utah that my children and grandchildren grow up in. I believe that it’s important to give back to the community and to try and leave an imprint that is positive and helpful. I have the ability to work across party lines and get results. This is evident with two specific examples. The plastic bag ban that Park City implemented was targeted with legislation to over ride that ban. I led the effort to defeat that bill. I believe that government closest to the people is best. The other example is I sponsored a bill to remove sales tax on food. This was unpopular in my party and I was told it didn’t have a chance to pass. I ran it anyway because I thought it was right. It passed the House 42-27. I believe my experience in the last two legislative sessions have been proof of working for all of my constituents and not blindly following party leadership. I will always listen to constituents from both political sides before voting on important issues.
Meaghan Miller (Democrat): Growing up in Utah and living in our community with my family has provided me a deep understanding of the values of the Wasatch Back. Working at People’s Health Clinic and learning the concerns of our community has provided me a deep understanding of the needs of the Wasatch Back. I also learned that Park City, and much of Summit County, are represented by those who live elsewhere. My background in public policy and community healthcare provided my skill set for problem solving and community engagement. Living in Park City has provided my empathy and a sharp eye for resolving issues that matter the most for our community.
Despite recent increases in public education funding, Utah still ranks last in per-pupil spending. Are current funding levels adequate? If so, explain why. If not, what should be done to further increase funding?
Quinn: It is true that we rank at the bottom of per pupil spending. There are many reasons that causes this, not the least of which is the amount of Federal and State owned land that cannot be taxed. Because of the robust economy Utah is experiencing, and the increase in tax revenues do to that economy we have increased education funding over a billion dollars in the last 4 years. We can and should continue to foster an environment that produces strong economic activity in the state so that we can continue to increase funding. It is however important to recognize the outstanding job that Utah teachers do and the results the students achieve with the resources that are available. I will continue to support policies that increase tax revenue for education while creating an environment encouraging economic growth.
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Miller: Education Funding is a huge concern for me. Due to years of inadequate funding we now have an economy and a generation of children that are shackled. We have a chance to tell the Legislature, via Question 1, that we should dedicate a portion of fuel tax for education. This is a good step, however, we need to provide more for our children. They deserve and need the best education available. I know that there are areas where we can reallocate funding within our districts by trimming administration costs. Another is to ensure that the tax dollars collected in Summit and Wasatch Counties stay in the Wasatch Back. We have the ability to increase funding for education and we must provide it before our children are further harmed.
Environmental stewardship is an important matter for Summit County, with both the Park City and Summit County governments setting renewable electric energy and zero-emission goals. What should be done at the state level to increase sustainability? Please cite one specific policy measure in your answer.
Quinn: I’ve been consistent with my applause for Park City and their leadership in this area. I have supported their efforts with an electric bus fleet and electric bikes. I think these are models for other city’s who would like to follow. I wrote a letter to the Federal Department of Transportation in support of a grant that would allow Park City and Summit County to expand their efforts in creating a more environmentally friendly transit system. I’m supportive and have encouraged many of my House colleagues to support legislation aimed at allowing Rocky Mountain Power to deliver clean energy to those who opt in without affecting those who don’t. I voted to give limited tax credits to oil refineries who upgraded their facilities so that tier 3 fuels could be produced. These fuels are much cleaner and will help improve the air throughout the state.
Miller: I am very happy, and excited, to live in a community that recognizes the importance of being proactive on environment quality and energy use. The State has been watching our efforts and are taking notice. The best support for our efforts would be reversing the changes to the Solar Tax Credit recently made by the State. The Residential Solar Tax credit is going to be eliminated by 2025. This change has been devastating to our local solar industry, reduced homeowners ability to afford solar, and likely will further the air pollutants we now see every winter. Implementing a solution that enables the average person to use sustainable energy technologies will benefit us all AND create jobs for our community.
The cost of living in the Wasatch Back, as well as other areas of the state, has risen sharply in recent years and shows little signs of slowing down. How can the Legislature address the issue of affordability in places like Summit County? Please cite one specific policy measure in your answer.
Quinn: This is a difficult area to address. Most of these decisions should be made at the local level. In speaking with Mayor Beerman about this issue, I came away satisfied that Park City will do a better job of managing that issue locally than if we tried to micro manage it from Salt Lake. Each County and City has different needs and different approaches to helping curb this problem. The growth that Utah is experiencing is a double edged sword. On the one hand we need good jobs for the people moving here, but that growth, both in people and in the economy, leads to higher and higher property values. I believe there are some ways that the state can help but this is primarily an issue best left to the Counties and Cities.
Miller: Providing affordable housing is a black box that has been very hard to crack open. The Legislature can immediately help make housing in our community more affordable by empowering the Utah Department of Workforce Services to better leverage its relationship with the Utah Housing Corporation. (The Utah Housing Corporation provide low interest financing to first time homebuyers and developers who build affordable multi-family developments.) Workforce Services have decades of experience in moving people from poverty to self sustainability. They also have decades of experience in helping low income individuals make their homes more affordable. I am confident that with a very small grant to Workforce Services innovative and effective solutions for our housing affordability will be identified and enacted quickly without increasing government or reducing local governance.
Equity has become an important topic in Summit County. What is the Legislature's role in fostering economic and social equity in Utah? Identify one policy you support that would make Utah more equitable.
Quinn: The state should always maintain policies that are fair to everyone. We should not create policy that picks winners and losers when it comes to economic opportunity. We need to make sure that our tax policies are fair and equitable (think no sales tax on food). While serving on the Revenue and Taxation Committee, I have supported legislation to help end inter generational poverty with an earned income tax credit. I ran and passed the food sales tax bill. I ran and passed a child tax credit to help young families make ends meet. I will continue to support common sense legislation to give everyone the opportunity to succeed.
Miller: Equity is something I see and am directly involved with every day of the week. I work at People’s Health Clinic and have commited my career to improving healthcare access for our community. The Legislature has been promoting a hands-off approach to equity; too many belief that non-profits can and should fill the gaps created by poor and ineffective state policies. A solution that will immediately bring equity to our community AND keep our tax dollars in the Wasatch Back is to expand Medicaid. The Legislature has been refusing to expand Medicaid on principles and a deep distrust of public programs. This short-sighted view has compounded a division between those who can have healthcare and those who cannot. Implementing Medicaid expansion, which is addressed in Proposition 3, will bring economic and social equity to our community.
How do you differ from your opponent?
Quinn: I think the biggest difference between myself and my opponent is experience. Not just legislative experiences but life experiences. I have owned businesses that had to meet payroll and payroll taxes. I have paid property taxes both residential and commercial and understand the burden that high tax rates can have on working families. I understand the often complex tax policies and the affects that they will have on the health of Utah’s economy. I have worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass legislation that benefits Utah and all of it’s citizens. I was nominated to a leadership academy for Legislators by a Democrat Representative because of my ability to work across party lines. And I have been able to have a real influence for Wasatch County and Park City in the Legislature, that we haven’t had in many years. I ask for your continued support and for your vote in this election.
Miller: The biggest difference is my experience, deep belief, and confidence in our community addresses challenges together. My opponent firmly believes that an ideal society is one where resources and solutions are concentrated within a few individuals. I like the idea of being able to address all problems by myself but life has shown me that the best solutions occur when we work together. Also, I grew up in Utah and have been raising my family in Park City. I don’t own eight homes and I know what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet. Lastly, every day I work within our community. I am in our community everyday solving problems and helping my friends and neighbors.
According to the Summit County Clerk's Office, ballots for the Nov. 6 election are set to begin arriving by mail on Friday, Oct. 19. Ballots returned through the mail must be postmarked by Nov. 5. Residents can register to vote online or at the Clerk's Office through Oct. 30. Same-day registration will also be available at four voting assistance centers throughout the county on Election Day. Visit http://co.summit.ut.us/281/Voter-Registration-Elections for more information.