Your Choice for Utah’s CEO: Johnson or Herbert

Primary elections seldom offer many differences since candidates are from the same party.  Not this time.  Governor Herbert and I have different positions on many important issues.

Common Core and Education in Utah

Jonathan: I oppose Common Core.  It runs counter to the conservative principle that small government, local control, and family-based decisions work best.  As governor, I’ll reverse the trend of giving up our decision-making power to D.C. bureaucrats.  I’ll allow local school districts to choose curricula and standards from a menu of options (which must include non-Common Core-based options) provided by the state school board.  I strongly believe Utah’s students will benefit greatly from more localization and personalization.  See my more detailed K-12 education plan here.



Gary: He brought Common Core to Utah and continues to support and defend its standards.  The National Governors Association, a left-of-center Washington D.C.-based group led by its staff of bureaucrats, has been a longtime advocate of Common Core.  As chairman of the NGA, he’s advocated for giving the federal government expanded control over the education of Utah’s children – including encouraging Congress to enact the Every Student Succeeds Act.  His education policies are another example of turning to Washington for answers instead of empowering parents and local educators through local solutions.

Public Lands: State Ownership and Local Control

Jonathan: I will lead the fight for the transfer of the nearly two-thirds of Utah’s lands owned by the federal government.  This transfer is essential if Utah is to become a self-reliant state.  I will not just give lip service when among supportive groups.  I will do what is necessary, including working with other governors and local officials to gain state ownership and local control of public lands – even if it means suing the federal government.  See my more detailed public lands plan here and view my video on the subject here.

Gary: Speaking about public lands, he stated, “I remind Washington: We are a state, not a colony, and I assure you, on my watch Utah will not stand idly by.” However, six years later he has done nothing meaningful to secure the transfer of our public lands.  And, when serious proposals have come out of the state legislature and Congress, he’s stood idly by.  Incredibly, he briefly supported the idea of a new national monument in Utah last year – until a one-day public outcry changed his mind.

Utah's Caucus Convention System

Jonathan: As a precinct chair and state delegate, I believe in the Utah caucus-convention system – it makes every neighborhood in Utah important.  That’s why I’ve been holding cottage and town hall meetings in neighborhoods all around the state.  As governor, I will work to repeal S.B. 54 – a law which insulates incumbents and favors candidates with the most money.  A ballot position should not be for sale in Utah.

Gary: He says he supports the caucus-convention system; however, he signed S.B. 54 into law paving the way for dramatic changes in Utah politics.  He is now paying signature gatherers to get ballot petition signatures along the Wasatch Front.  His actions clearly don’t match his words.


Jonathan: I oppose new taxes and, as governor, I will not raise taxes.  Last year, I voted against Prop 1 in Salt Lake County.  Utahns deserve a break from ever increasing taxes.  I will actively look to shrink government, not expand it.  I will look for ways to reduce taxes, including corporate income tax and income taxes on military and social security benefits.

Gary: He talks tough, but on his watch he increased property tax, sales tax, fuel tax, and tobacco tax. Together with the National Governors Association, one of his current priorities is an unconstitutional Internet sales tax bill that forces out-of-state merchants to collect taxes on everything you purchase on the Internet.

Term Limits

Jonathan: I don’t like career politicians.  During my first 100 days, I will work with the legislature to put in place a two-term limit on state-wide elected executive offices (i.e., Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Auditor and Treasurer).  I will then ask the citizens of Utah to amend Utah’s Constitution so future politicians can’t undo the law.

Medicaid Expansion

Jonathan: I oppose expanding Obamacare in Utah on the federal government’s terms. Governor Herbert’s Medicaid expansion proposals were recipes to bankrupt the state, and Utah taxpayers would have footed the bill. Utah needs to stop looking to Washington bureaucracies (including the National Governors Association) to solve Utah’s problems. In general, I oppose increasing Utah reliance on the federal government.

Gary: He proposed two different Medicaid expansion plans in 2015: Healthy Utah and Utah Access+. Medicaid expansion was a top priority that year.  While his efforts failed twice in 2015 (in the general legislative session and in a special legislative session he called), as long as he is governor he will seek alternate routes to grow government and expand Medicaid.

Federal Control vs Self Reliance

Jonathan:  I believe self-reliance is not just for individuals and families, but is an essential principle Utah must follow as a state.  Nearly a third of Utah’s annual budget comes from the federal government and nearly every federal dollar has a string attached.  To reduce the federal government’s role in the lives of Utahns, I will reduce Utah’s dependence on the federal government – starting with K-12 education.

Gary: During his two terms as governor, he has increased Utah’s dependence on the federal government from $2.5 billion/year to $3.8 billion/year – and it would be much higher if his Medicaid expansion proposals had passed.  With every federal dollar, he’s lessened Utah’s ability to stand up to the ever-increasing encroachment of the federal government.

National Governors Association

Jonathan: I believe the National Governors Association is a left-of-center Washington D.C.-based group, led by its staff of bureaucrats.  Its top priorities include advancing Common Core and the Every Student Succeeds Act, granting states Internet taxing authority, and expanding Obamacare through Medicaid expansion.  It’s a special interest group that lobbies the federal government for funds. Like other conservative governors, I will not join a group that advocates for bigger government – especially when Utah taxpayers foot the bill for membership and travel.

Gary:  He chairs the National Governors Association and has set its big government 2016 agenda.  Worse yet, he has pushed its policy agenda in Utah – including Common Core and the Every Student Succeeds Act, Medicaid expansion and Internet sales tax – even as they conflict with conservative principles.

Second Amendment Rights

Jonathan: I will be a staunch defender of the Second Amendment.  I will fight any federal government overreach that aims to disrupt the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Utahns.  I will sign a Constitutional Carry law as conservative governors have done in other states.

Gary: He has consistently vetoed or stopped Constitutional Carry bills in Utah.  He’s even proposed background checks for BB guns.

Government Picking Winners and Losers

Jonathan: I believe the government should create a level playing field on which businesses compete – not pick winners and losers.  I will fight to remove outdated and unnecessary regulations, laws and licensing requirements which favor certain businesses.  No industry should be insulated from disruptive technologies which will improve the lives of Utahns (e.g., Zenefits, Tesla, AirBnB, Uber, etc.).

Gary: When he first ran for re-election in 2010, he said he would focus on the economic climate for Utah-based businesses.   However, in 2014-2015 almost all of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development post-performance long-term tax subsidies have gone to large and out-of-state businesses. In addition, a 2014 state audit found that Governor’s Office of Economic Development “provided special treatment for some companies.”

Syrian Refugees

Jonathan:  I will tell the federal government that Utah will not allow terrorists to come here under the guise of Syrian refugees.  See my more detailed statement regarding accepting refugees here.

Utah Transit Authority Governance

Jonathan:  I will end the political appointment system that has allowed the Utah Transit Authority to lose the public trust.  See my more detailed statement on the UTA governance here.

Gary: For two terms, he’s stuck with the same political appointment process at the UTA, despite numerous travel scandals, board resignations, and decreased approval ratings.

Rural Utah

Jonathan:  I will give more than lip service to rural Utah.  As I’ve traveled throughout Utah, I’ve seen that much of rural Utah does not participate in the Wasatch Front’s economic successes and suffers under heavy federal overreach.  I’ll continue to spend time in all parts of the state so that I represent all of Utah (not just the Wasatch Front).  I’m also committed to the caucus convention system – in large part to make sure that rural Utah continues to have a voice in state-wide races.

Gary:  In 2015, he spent more time in Europe than he did in many rural counties.  While he claims to prioritize rural Utah, during his 2016 State of the State address he referred to rural Utah as Utah’s “backyard” and he is now gathering ballot petition signatures that compromise rural Utah’s voice.

Government Audits

Jonathan:  I will work closely with the state auditor to remove waste from government.  The state auditor’s office, headed by Auditor John Dougall, is an indispensable part of the state government.  I will work with that office to improve government services and save taxpayer money.

Gary: He disputes the findings from the auditor’s office, even calling them misleading.  When his agencies haven’t liked the findings of a state audit, they fund their own third-party review in an attempt to marginalize the findings of the state auditor.