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Democrats: Utah Needs Living Wage, Healthcare

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Democrats in Utah have responded to Gov. Gary Herbert’s proposals laid out in his 2016 State of the State address. The party has plans to propose living wage legislation in this year’s legislative session.

Utah’s unemployment remains low at three and a half percent. State Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon said that take-home pay, not the availability of jobs, is the issue in the Beehive State.

“People can get a job in the state of Utah. That’s not the issue. The issue is whether they can get a good-paying job and, right now, being 38 out of 50 in terms of wages in the United States is not where the state of Utah wants to be,” Corroon said. “We want higher wages, we want people to be able to feed their families and take care of their families. We are a state which has a lot of children, so you can’t get by on the minimum wage these days; we need what we call a living wage in order to get by. That’s what the Democrats are pushing for this legislative session.”

During Wednesday’s State of the State address, Herbert called for a solution to the gridlock surrounding Medicaid expansion. Corroon called the delay in expand healthcare coverage a failure of leadership.

“It’s been a failure of leadership from our state. The Affordable Care Act passed six years ago and the governor had a chance to pass Medicaid expansion but they didn’t do it,” he said. “We still have a 100,000-plus people in Utah that don’t have healthcare that they need. It’s a basic, simple thing that if you get sick, you should have the healthcare to take care of yourself. Thousands and thousands of people in Utah don’t have that.”

In 2015, Utahns earned nearly $150 less per week than the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.