BOUNTIFUL - Even prospective government officials sometimes feel that the government has too much power.
Chet Loftis, who is set to run for the District 19 seat when Jim Neilson steps down this fall, said he hopes to get into office so he can set some limits on governmental power. Loftis, who worked as legal counsel for the legislature several years ago, wants to refine and in some cases lessen some of the restrictions currently in place.
“I’m the kind of person who thinks every good idea shouldn’t be a law, and every bad idea shouldn’t be a crime,” he told the Bountiful Rotary at a recent meeting. “As a lawyer, some of my most interesting cases have come when the laws are too broad.”
Loftis feels that these too-broad laws often come about when legislators don’t understand the finer points of the issues they’re deciding on. Though he understood why people might not necessarily agree with former state senator Dan Liljenquist’s fight for pension reform a few years ago, Loftis said he admired the effort.
“It was a tough issue, but Dan truly understood that we were really underfunded,” he said. “I’ve worked with senators who didn’t know how child support and welfare worked.”
When it comes to education, he thinks turning more decisions over to districts can help with that level of understanding.
“The state gets angry with the federal government for giving out money with strings attached, then it does the same thing to schools,” Loftis said.
He also feels that applying that kind of detailed analysis to the state budget can help trim unnecessary costs.
“If there was enough money in the kitty (at the beginning of a legislative session), we always assumed everything was good and just looked at new things,” said Loftis. “We need to be able to sit down with the different government agencies and say ‘Look, we’re not trying to hurt you, but what can we cut?’”
He added that the best way to bring about these changes is greater teamwork among legislators, as well as between the different branches of government.
“One person can’t do everything,” said Loftis. “They need to get 10 people, who in turn each get 10 more people, and so on. I would like to take the concept of partnership and make it the centerpiece of what we do.”