Ballots will be in your mailbox in the next 2 days.

Ballots for the 2020 General Election will be showing up in your mailbox on Monday or Tuesday.

It is an important election for our nation, but also for our state: for our Governor, our Attorney General, and our State Legislature.  Also, there will be several proposed changes to our Utah State Constitution, as well as the question of retaining several of our judges. And we will be voting locally on a Parks and Trails bond.

The ability to vote, and the habit of voting, is one of the basic things that keeps our nation free and gives our community its character.

I am proud to be from Bountiful where we have always had a high level of community engagement and a high percentage who do vote.

I am so thankful to be from Utah where we have a tried and true vote-by-mail system that has worked smoothly for many years and gives everyone the chance to research their votes at home so they can cast informed votes on the issues.

I know there are some who are worried about the fairness of the election coming up, but for me, I feel confident that our system will function accurately and fairly in this election as I believe that it has in past elections.  And even though these are difficult times, I believe our country will be stronger as we make it through this election and as our government adjusts to reflect the will that people have expressed through their vote.

Please feel free to give me a call or email reply if there any particular ballot issues that you would like to discuss.

And Please Vote!

Bountiful Parks and Trails Bond

One of the items on your ballot will be a proposal for Bountiful to issue a new bond for parks and trails.  I support the bond and think it will make our city a nice place to live.   Here is the background voter information on the bond.

* If the bond passes, what will the city do with the money?
$2 Million will go to implementing the city's Master Trail plan.  The other $6 Million will allow the city to purchase the land where Washington Elementary School used to be and pay to develop it into playing fields and other recreational features.

* If the bond does not pass, what will happen?
The Washington Elementary School property will then be sold to the highest bidder.  Given the value of land for different uses, it will likely be sold to a developer who will build apartments.

* If the bond passes, how much will a home owner pay in property tax?
If the bond passes, a median-priced Bountiful home will pay an additional $32.57 per year for 20 years.

Because most of the available land in Bountiful is already being used, it is very rare that land comes available.  This property is likely the last chance Bountiful will have to obtain land in the flat part of the city for recreational opportunities.  

We live so close to such beautiful mountains and canyons, but currently we have not put in the basic effort needed to create trails that we can use and enjoy.  We have one heavily-used trail (the Elephant Rock trail in Mueller Park Canyon), but no others that are easily usable and maintained.  If we are able to implement the top items on the Master Trails Plan, we could have usable trails up the other canyons as well as connecting trails across the face of the mountain.  Other cities (like Draper) that have developed similar trails have found that their residents really get a lot of enjoyment from the ability to hike and bike on them.  

Bountiful has some areas for playing fields but our families who live here in Bountiful wish there were more.  We have kids who enjoy soccer, football and Lacrosse, but often those teams have to drive a fair ways to other communities to find available fields.  It would be nicer if the fields our kids used for practice and games could be right here close to home.  

Another possible use for the land is a set of Pickleball courts. Pickleball has become popular in recent years, and cities (like Woods Cross) that have put in Pickleball courts have found that they get plenty of use and are a great way for people of many ages to enjoy a game and get to know the other players as well.  

For me, I think this is a good investment in our community and will make Bountiful a nicer place to live.  I am hoping the bond will pass and I would be happy to answer questions you have about it.

If you really hope the bond passes and would like a yard sign to show your support to your neighbors, let me know - and we will bring you one over (while supplies last).

Constitutional Amendment G

On your ballot this year, there are 7 proposed amendments to the Utah Constitution.  I think the only one of them that has been somewhat controversial is Constitutional Amendment G, which will make some changes to how state tax money can be used to fund programs for children.  I support this amendment and hope that it will pass.

To understand the amendment, you have to understand current Utah tax law.

Currently, the two largest ways that the state of Utah gets tax revenue are from Income Tax and Sales Tax.  Sales tax can be used for any of the state's needs, but income tax can only be used to pay for our universities and K-12 schools.  If Constitutional Amendment G passes, income tax revenue will also be allowed to be used to pay for other children's programs and programs for people with disabilities.

Q.  If this amendment passes, will it mean more or less money going to education and children's programs?

A. This amendment will not make any more or less money go to any of these programs.  The budgeting process of the legislature will basically continue the same in future years as it has in past years.

Q. If it isn't making any immediate change in funding to the programs, then what is the point of making any change?

A. If we don't make this change now, it appears that there will come a point 3-4 years from now where sales tax revenues would not be enough to maintain current funding of other children's and disability programs and that might lead to abrupt cuts in services at that time.  The legislature (no surprise) would like to maintain flexibility in how it budgets for all of the state's needs and this amendment will allow that to happen.

Q. Are there other changes associated with this amendment?

A. Yes.  Very importantly - in order to get the education community to be supportive of the amendment, the legislature agreed to make a change in how we arrive at the education budget every year.  Up to this point, we have started every budget year using the previous year's budget number, and then negotiated up and down from there.  If this amendment passes, we will start every year's negotiation with last year's education budget plus enough to cover for any increase in the student population size and enough to cover for inflation, and then negotiate up and down from that higher starting spot.  Additionally for a few years, the law will require that at least 10% of any increases in tax revenue will go towards education. Over time, the expectation is that this will slowly result in improved funding for our schools.

Q. Does the education community support this change?

A. There isn't one single voice of the "education community," but two of the most important voices that represent our education community are the Association of State School Superintendents and the Utah Education Association (who represent many of our state's teachers).  Both of these groups do support this change.  Here is a link to the statement of support from the UEA.  

In brief: Support of this amendment will allow the legislature to retain flexibility in how it budgets.  It will make no immediate difference in school funding levels, but will turn the budgeting process in a more favorable direction for future school funding.  By itself, it does not solve our long term problem of getting adequate school funding for our students, but I think it points us a little better in that direction.
Donations Appreciated

Campaigns are expensive and communicating with constituents takes time and money.  As a "Citizen legislature" we receive pay for the time of our official meetings, but there is no allowance to hire staff during the year or to pay for efforts to be in touch with you all.  I am fortunate to have a well paying day job, and I depend on that income and the donations I receive from you to cover the costs of things like mailers and this email.  No politician can please everyone, but I have done my best to be responsive to your concerns and feedback.  If you have been pleased with how I have represented Bountiful and were in a position to make a small donation to my campaign, I would be most appreciative.

Ray Ward Representative House District 19
cell phone: 801-440-8765