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State Senator Winterton Eager To Tackle Challenges Ahead In His First Legislative Session

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Ronald Winerton
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Ronald Winterton is the new state senator representing district 26. He brings a decade of experience as a county commissioner, but the rookie senator admits the new roles expected of him will be a welcome challenge.

Senator Ronald Winterton comes to the Utah legislature with a decade of experience as a Duchesne County Commissioner.

“I’ve felt very privileged that I was able to learn what I did while at the county. I feel like that’s going to help me down the road. I met with Summit County here about three weeks ago and I can relate to everything that they’re concerned about and what they’re working on because of my experience in the county. I feel that’s going to be a big foot up to being able to just step right in. I’ve worked on economic projects, I’ve got transportation projects, personnel issues and health benefits and that kind of stuff behind me. I think that I can hit the ground running and be a positive influence for your county.”

Senator Winterton is assigned to four committees for the 2019 legislative session, including the Health and Human Services committee which he will chair in his first year in the senate.

“I do have a pretty good rapport with the leadership team and this spot became vacant through the election process. I don’t know if I’m just the new kid or—I told them I’m willing to serve wherever they need me to serve. (The senate leadership) called and asked me if I wouldn’t chair that one. So, I’m excited about that.”

Senator Winterton had looked over the Governor’s proposed 2020 budget released in early December. Winterton said that some decreases to the budget would be a challenge.

“I do feel that the governor has a pretty decent budget. And I know that the senate is concerned about taking care of the infrastructure needs and the education needs.” KPCW asked Winterton if he agreed with the governors call for a tax decrease. “He did propose that $200 million and we talked about the budget and there’s some concerns. If we were to honor that, where do we make those cuts? You’re right, if things fall like that, that’s going to leave us a shortfall. There is some legislation out there that they’ve talked about for tax reform. Is there a way that could give some relief without really cutting the budget? I guess we’ll see what happens here. I didn’t hear anyone in the senate tearing the budget apart, if it’s really doable there’ll be some challenges.”

Governor Herbert’s budget proposal includes a nearly $300 million increases in spending on public education. Senator Winterton is on the Public Education Appropriation Subcommittee. He agrees that we need more spending on public education but is cautious about whether that proposed number is sustainable.

“We all know that we need to. I did hear a lot of support for public education and that’ll be a big win for the schools this year. There is a surplus but not as much as everybody’s talking about. When you have surpluses there’s a formula in which you can only spend 70% of the money the rest has to go into the rainy-day account. So, it’s a safeguard to keep people from expecting something that’s a one-time thing. If we have a surplus next year, I think that we can look at some of these areas where we really need to have ongoing appropriations, but one-time money is a band aid. What happens when we beef that up this year and then we can’t sustain it next year. As a commissioner that’s what I’ve always looked at, sustainability. It’s great if we have extra money this year but to put ourselves in bondage for years to come means we raise taxes to keep that level of spending up for those programs. We’ll do the best we can to make sure we support education and it’s needs but I’m not one to raise taxes to get there. I think there’s ways that we can look at it from money that comes in earmark that so that we make sure that our education needs are taken care of.”

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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