Dan Liljenquist has earned a reputation for relentless focus on the bottom line and proven ability to solve tough problems. He learned the value of hard work from an early age. He grew up in Southern Idaho as the seventh of fifteen children and as a teen, went to work moving sprinkler pipe in the potato fields. Dan went on to earn a degree in economics on an academic scholarship from Brigham Young University and graduated from the University of Chicago law school. He then was one of a handful of applicants selected from hundreds to work at Bain Consulting, where he specialized in turning around failing companies and making them strong and profitable.
With experience in the private sector, he knows how the free market creates jobs. After Bain, he spent several years in the Fortune 500 world, then left to join a small in-bound call center in Roy, Utah. As President and CEO, he helped it double in size, employing hundreds in a just a few, short years.
A fiscal and social conservative, Dan’s passion is economics and solving tough budget problems. Elected to the Utah Senate in 2008, he refused to sit back and bide his time. Instead, he threw himself into solving a series of “impossible” problems, starting with Utah’s pension system in 2010. In spite of dire predictions that pension reform “would never pass,” Dan took on every union in the state and worked with all stakeholders to pull Utah from the brink of bankruptcy. In addition to reforming pensions for public employees, his bill completely eliminated pensions for legislators. The far-reaching reforms he crafted and pushed through over a single year have now become model legislation for the entire nation.
The next year Dan tackled another seemingly insurmountable problem—Medicaid reform. He spent a year working to bring all parties to the table and crafted a bill that fundamentally restructured the Medicaid program in Utah. The reforms ensured the program would not bankrupt the state, and protects public education, higher education and other state priorities. Under his guidance, Utah became the first state in the nation to cap Medicaid growth as it relates to the state budget. As with pension reform, these innovative reforms are now considered model legislation around the country.
As a happily married husband and father of six, Dan believes in traditional values including hard work and community service. In 2008, he almost lost his life in a plane crash while on a humanitarian mission to build schools in Guatemala. The crash, which claimed the lives of 11 of the 14 on board, affected him profoundly and left him all the more determined to make his life count.
Dan’s work on reforming entitlements and the welfare state have earned him numerous state and national awards, including “Taxpayer Advocate of the Year” for 2010 and 2011 by the Utah Taxpayer’s Association, the 2011 “Real Leader Award” by State Budget Solutions and the only state legislator (out of 7000+) to be named a 2011 “Public Official of the Year” by Governing Magazine.