Setting the Record Straight
Claim: Dan supports “Double-Dipping”
“Double-dipping” is the term used to describe the practice of retiring on a Friday and coming back to work on a Monday to receive a pension, a paycheck, and a 401k contribution. This system created an unsustainable burden on the Utah retirement system and had to change as part of the revolutionary reforms Dan championed in the Utah senate. Dan’s pension reforms were contained in Senate Bill 43 in the 2010 legislative session.
Dan’s reforms accomplished three major feats:
- Effectively ended double-dipping
- Provided a defined contribution (401k style) retirement system for new public employees, phasing out the old defined benefit system that placed great risk on Utah taxpayers.
- Ended pensions for Utah legislators
Awards and Recognition
- The Utah Taxpayers Association named Dan the Taxpayer Advocate of the Year award two years in a row for his reforms of both pensions and Medicaid. You can read their recent defense of Dan’s accomplishments at:
- Governing Magazine awarded Dan “Public Official of the Year” for his groundbreaking reforms. The article is here: http://www.governing.com/poy/dan-liljenquist.html
- Dan’s pension reform was recently mentioned as a specific contributing factor in Utah’s #1 ranking for economic outlook: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705397669/Utah-tops-national-economic-report.html
- They were also used by both NCSL (the National Council of State Legislatures) and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) as models for other states to follow.
- Dan’s pension reforms were also praised by the authors of “Rich States, Poor States” (Art Laffer, who is well-known for the Laffer curve, Steve Moore, of the Wall Street Journal and Jonathan Williams of ALEC). They name Utah #1 in economic competitiveness and have this to say about Dan:
Pension Reform Gains Momentum
In response to mounting unfunded liabilities, many states are increasingly considering replacing their defined-benefit pension plans with 401(k)-style defined-contribution plans for new employees. ALEC member Senator Dan Liljenquist of Utah spearheaded a major pension reform that is undoubtedly one of the most important legislative accomplishments on fiscal reform anywhere in America in recent years.
Finally, here is an article that scrutinizes the assertions made in the attack ads and concludes that the claim that Dan supports double dipping “distorts the truth and lies to voters”: http://publiusonline.com/2012/02/freedom-path-two-scoops-mailer-misses-the-truth-on-double-dipping/
Claim: Dan missed a lot of votes.
In order to pass substantive reforms like pension and Medicaid it is necessary to spend a lot of time with the other legislative body working out concerns and building support. It does no good to pass a bill through the Senate if it dies in the House. Dan took the time required to work these bills through BOTH legislative bodies. In doing so, he had the full support of his colleagues in the Senate and Senate leadership.
The result of his time and effort in working with the House was real and lasting reform to put our state on sustainable financial footing. He received three national awards for his work, including the only state legislator of over 7500 to receive the “Public Official of the Year Award” from the bipartisan Governing Magazine.
The Utah Taxpayers Association addresses that assertion as well. They state that:
To make sure SB 180 passed the House, Sen. Liljenquist participated in dozens of meetings with various stakeholders. In doing so, he relied on his Senate colleagues to make sure other good bills moved forward, and bad bills were stopped. However, he was on the floor when his vote was needed on close vote.
You can read their full statement at: http://www.utahtaxpayers.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/March-2012.pdf
In a statistical analysis of missed votes in the Utah Legislature done by Adam Brown at http://utahdatapoints.com/2011/06/why-do-legislators-skip-votes he comes to the mathematical conclusion that ”Legislative leaders skip way more votes than non-leaders.” Revolutionary reforms like pension and Medicaid reform required unprecedented levels of coalition building and leadership.
Claim: Dan is opposed to government transparency.
Utah has some of the most open and transparent government records laws in the nation. However, these laws have not been updated since the widespread use of new technologies such as email and text messaging. A bill was introduced in the 2011 legislative session that attempted to update Utah’s open records laws and provide some protections to private citizens such as requiring a judicial review before releasing communications between private citizens and their legislators.
After the bill passed and was signed by the governor, the legislature acknowledged that the bill should have undergone a more thorough review and allowed more time for public scrutiny and input. A special legislative session was convened to resolve these issues and Dan Liljenquist made the motion to repeal the bill. It was subsequently repealed before it ever went into effect. By way of contrast, the US Congress has exempted itself from all Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Claim: Dan voted to expand SCHIP
Dan tried to solve a problem with SCHIP. The SCHIP program is a federal program that mandates health care for children. Under the SCHIP program, legal immigrants to this country have to wait five years before they are eligible to claim benefits of the SCHIP program, but illegal immigrants have no waiting period. This program was yet another example of how immigration policy in this country is completely backwards and encourages illegal immigration.
As a state senator, Dan was not in a position to repeal SCHIP. However, he could work to at least eliminate an incentive to migrate here illegally. With that purpose in mind, he voted to eliminate the five year waiting period for legal immigrants. The bill didn’t even make it out of committee and so was not amended or even debated on the floor.
Dan is a critic of SCHIP program itself, though, and believes that such programs should only exist at the state level, if at all.
Claim: Dan wants to take away your right to vote for Senators
Our Founding Fathers were brilliant in many ways, but one of their greatest feats was creating a federal government with a balance of powers. The US House of Representatives was intended to represent the people, while the US Senate was established to represent the states.
Standing for state sovereignty is not something a politician should dust off during an election year, but something that should be fought for every day in the US Senate. The US Senate is meant to be a bulwark between the federal government and the states – not a body that imposes its will on states from afar.
In 2011, the Utah Senate passed a bill they called the “soft repeal “ of the 17th Amendment, asking our US Senators to at least come and consult with the Utah legislature on issues important to the state. One senator said “Of course I will” and Senator Hatch said “I don’t report to you.”
Right now, Dan has the support of the majority of Republican Senators in Utah. He will work closely with the Utah legislature and he will be a staunch defender of state sovereignty and individual rights. He will live in Utah and he will represent Utah to Washington and will not try to force Washington on Utah.
Dan does support the repeal of the 17th Amendment, and will be a committed advocate of state sovereignty. He will voluntarily hold himself accountable to the Utah legislature as he stands up for our state.