The biggest issues that we have to deal with in the state of Utah are education, water, and energy development.
In the last four years the Legislature has increased Education funding for Public Education by almost one billion dollars. In the last two years we have raised teacher salaries by $4200.00. Our kids are our future leaders and deserve the best education that we can provide. Utah's unique demographics have always been challenging to provide for our large student population. Our legislature values education so much that it was the only budget item that was not reduced in the recent special session amidst budget cuts of $272,000,000.
With regard to higher education funding, I am pleased to have been a part of the coalition to provide for the funding of the bond payoff for the CEU apartments and the Western Energy Training Center purchase.
In the last legislative session I introduced HB51 that protected the water rights of our public water suppliers from forfeiture due to non-use. Utah is the second driest state in the nation and we must provide planning tools that our public agencies can use to provide for the future water needs to accommodate the growth and development in our state. HB51 accomplished that goal. Also in the 2008 session, I introduced HB203 that strengthens the ability of Utah water users to keep disputes heard in our Utah courts rather than on the federal level. HB51 enjoyed the support of 60 co-sponsors in the house and both bills passed with overwhelming margins in the house and senate.
As a nation we spend over seven hundred billion dollars a year to purchase energy from foreign countries. Our economy and national security depend on our ability to have a reliable and affordable supply of energy to meet our growing needs. Carbon County is a vital player in our ability to produce these natural resources.
During the September Interim session, I introduced a resolution to the Natural Resources committee to ask that the EPA and BLM act expeditiously in issuing the permits for the exploration and production for the natural gas project in Nine Mile Canyon. The committee voted unanimously to support the resolution. This project is extremely important to the State of Utah and will enhance our ability to provide our own energy resources and good paying jobs in a local industry. In the 2007 legislative session I co-sponsored HB134 which provided for an enhancement in the distribution of mineral revenues to the counties of production to cover the impacts of exploration and development. This change resulted in increased yearly revenues to Carbon County in excess of three million dollars.
I very much appreciate my association with Rep. King and Sen. Dmitrich and the sacrifices they make to serve. I wish Sen. Dmitrich the best in his retirement.
I am extremely grateful to the citizens of Carbon County for the honor and privilege to serve them in our legislature.