BY TOM BUSSELBERG
LAYTON — Lt. Gov. Greg Bell didn’t mince words Wednesday afternoon in his keynote address for the Davis Chamber of Commerce Business-to-Business Expo at the Davis Conference Center.
Recounting both the good and the bad, he pointed to strengths in Davis County from the area’s strong partnership and support of Hill AFB to “a lack of walls” between different government entities.
“Davis County is the best of the best,” he said, “but our demographics are changing.”
Twenty-five percent of Davis School District’s 68,000 students live below the poverty line and require businesspeople and others to “reach across racial and cultural boundaries” to help those with disadvantaged lives, he said.
The Fruit Heights resident, a former mayor of Farmington and state senator, said that while an 84 percent of Davis County seniors are expected to graduate this year, that still leaves 1,000 who won’t receive a diploma.
“That’s the single biggest predictor of poverty,” Bell said, referring to educational attainment.
Other points he made included:
Math proficiency is not good, requiring two-thirds of college students to take costly remedial classes and often not graduating
The state has slipped to 31st place in reading scores, meaning the oft-repeated saying “we do more with less” no longer always holds true
In 1990, Utah was 9th-highest among states in terms of per capita spent on education. That has slipped to 29th.
The “Great Recession” has lasted five-plus years, and jobs created are still 2 percent below pre-recession levels. Many with jobs who made $70,000 before, for example, now are trying to get by on $26,000 a year.
Utah is the most healthy state, economically, growing at nearly three times the national rate.
There is an erosion in personal responsibility, and the upcoming generation is becoming socially isolated.
Read more in the upcoming edition of the Davis Clipper on May 2 and The Islander on May 8 at Utahislander.com.