Governor Cox issues a drought state of emergency in monthly press conference
Utah Governor Spencer Cox focused his remarks in his monthly press conference on drought provisions and inflation.
“Right now our statewide reservoir storage is at about 59% of capacity and there is no doubt that we are going to have a difficult water year ahead. So as a result of that, I’m issuing a drought state of emergency effective today," Cox said.
The drought state of emergency gives the state the ability to make resources, including emergency funds, available to water districts in dire situations. Governor Cox also believes that the state of emergency declaration is a powerful messaging tool.
“It sends a message to our water districts, it sends a message to the citizens of the state, that this is an emergency situation,” Cox said.
While Utah’s economy continues to be rated #1 in economic outlook by the American Legislative Exchange Council, Governor Cox also addressed inflation concerns, in particular, high gas prices for Utahns.
“The US Department of Labor reported that Utah and other Western states are experiencing the highest inflation rates in the country. The US overall inflation rate is at about 8.5%, and Utah and much of the West is closer to 10%... but with inflation this high, Utahns are really feeling the pinch, especially at the gas pump,” Cox said.
Addressing a potential pause on Utah’s state gas tax in an effort to relieve pressure on consumers, Governor Cox says that due to the structure of that tax there is no guarantee those savings would be passed on to consumers. He proposed expanding free transit programs as an alternative.
“We did a free fare February for transit along the Wasatch Front. We would like to see free fares in every transit district across the state. And the state would fund that for a period of time, three months, six months, something like that,” Cox said.
Governor Cox says implementing a broader free fare program would provide transit access to low-income Utahns, reduce demand for gas, and have added environmental benefits of reducing carbon pollution with fewer cars on the road.