Utah House, District 14, Jennifer Hogge

1. What did you do to help with the Utah 2019 Tax Referendum? I signed the referendum, educated my neighbors on the issues surrounding it, and attended Town Hall meetings at the Capitol prior to the Tax Reform vote to better understand the reform (and subsequently the need for the referendum).

2. What is your position of taxes on food and gasoline? Utah has one of the highest gas tax rates in the nation. Several years ago, a 10 cent increase was to go to education. As a teacher, I would have welcomed the increase, but I opposed it as a citizen because it was not the right way to get the funding. When our food tax was decreased many years ago, it was a welcome relief, so bringing back that tax was ultimately a tax on the vulnerable. Just because there are items “we all use” doesn’t mean those should be taxed at high rates.

3. What if any taxes would you implement on services and why? I can understand the argument that some of our spending habits have changed. This is true in my own life. There are some items that I simply don’t purchase in brick and mortar as often, if ever. Charging a tax for streaming services has some validity. I don’t purchase CDs or DVDs much anymore; my entertainment is via streaming. That is a place where I can see shifting tax to where the consumer actually pays. I do not like the idea of taxing services that have always been provided, but adding a new tax to them. For example, I do not want piano lessons, sports, or activities taxed. That is a new tax–not a shift in tax.

4. Many Utahns felt that after the town halls and committee meetings that the legislative tax task force held throughout 2019 that their concerns were not heard and that special interests wielded too much influence. On the other hand, many legislators felt that the people didn’t understand the issue or the solutions that they put forth. If elected, how would you respond to the concerns and issues that your constituents bring to you and how would you educate them on the issues you are dealing with? I attended those meetings and I definitely saw a lack of communication on both sides. First, it was very obvious that many special interests weighed in behind the scenes. The public comments were focused on basically two themes: protect education and don’t tax food. However, those were disregarded in the final legislation. When the legislators are discussing changing spending habits as a need to restructure taxation, but never actually provided any data, it was a tough pill to swallow. As a legislator, you learn the facts and you tell the truth. As an educator, I spend my entire day helping children understand things that are complex and difficult for them. Some of them come with preconceived ideas that help them understand, some come with no background and I have to add more information, and some come with misunderstandings that have to be cleared up. I am accustomed to listening to others for understanding and helping others understand.

5. Are you willing to vote against bills that legislative leadership wants you to support even when threatened with losing coveted committee positions, having your legislation held hostage, etc? Explain I have often stood alone in my life. I have been under pressure in my professional and personal lives to compromise my integrity but have refused. Integrity is not an “idea” to me–it is a way of life. So, yes, I am willing to vote according to my constituents’ desires, even if they are not my desires. I take seriously the title of Representative, it means I represent others, not myself. There are prices to be paid with every decision.

6. Are you in favor of the Utah School Income Tax Constitutional Amendment that will be voted on in November? Why or not. I spent two days on the Hill during the session. One of those days was near the end when the negotiations for protecting education funding were occurring. Having the foresight to create a Constitutional requirement to fund education tells me our forebears valued learning. To put that funding at risk is frustrating. It is difficult to hear our leaders say “we have a robust economy” with “low unemployment” when the message is positive economic growth but then say “the income tax is too volitile” to count on for education funding. I expect economic stability for schools! Our schools are taking on may of the roles formerly reserved for other agencies. For example, we have high schools with food pantries, laundry facilities, and children who are homeless. I assure you, our educators have taken on roles that far exceed instruction, but we are continually limited in the resources we are supplied. I expect the Constitution of the State of Utah to continue funding education. The needs that schools must now fill should not be funded from education, but from the correct resource that matches those needs.  

7. Name one reason you are the best candidate for the position you signed for. There are three main issues I’m running on: education, mental health, and clean air. I am the right person for this district, at this time, because I am ‘boots on the ground’ as an educator. I have had experiences in my community with the pervasive mental illness and its subsequent effects, so I am willing to tackle this difficult subject. Finally, we must address the air quality in our state. There are some reasonable approaches to handling these topics. I have been disappointed in some of the legislation recently introduced, it did not focus on the issues of the majority of people but hours and hours were spent debating it and having it covered in the press. I would like to focus our legislation on topics that are of vast consequence for our state.

Email jennifer@jenniferhogge.com

Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about myself and my platform.  My name is Jennifer Hogge.  I am running for the Utah House of Representatives in District 14.  I was raised in the Taylorsville area.  I graduated from Weber State University with a BA in Elementary Education, then from Western Governors University with an M.Ed. in Instructional Design.  When it was time for me to return to college and complete my degree, I determined I wanted to advocate for children.  I opted to become a teacher.  I love teaching.  It is an honorable profession and one that impacts humanity in a positive way. 

During my career, I’ve seen so many trends and changes.  While well-intentioned on paper, oftentimes the actual implementation is burdensome and detracts from education.  As a legislator, I want to ensure that mandates are truly needed before implemented.  I want to ensure that our precious educational funds make it to the classroom level. 

Outside of my work, I have been a Utah state Trainer for the CERT program (Community Emergency Response Team), and in schools as a volunteer.  I have also worked in my faith-based community to assist with issues related to poverty and food insecurity.  These are concerns that have shaped a lot of my attitudes and positions as a candidate. 

Because of my profession and my work in a high-poverty school and my work to alleviate food insecurity, I was passionate about seeing the recent Tax Reform legislation negated.  When our legislature attempted to reallocate funding to our schools while also increasing the tax on food and gas, I knew there was a disconnect about realities vs. theories.  I attended some of the town hall meetings, was active on the Facebook group, and helped spread the word among my coworkers and neighbors about the proposals.  I was disheartened to hear the same concerns about protecting educational funding and concerns about increasing the food tax, but those concerns were disregarded in the final legislation. 

As I’ve talked with voters in District 14 and refined my platform, I can say unequivocally that I believe the best way to deal with our state budget is multi-faceted.  First, let’s take stock of our resources.  Not just financial resources, but what programs are in place already that are successful in our communities.  What needs must be addressed?  Can we reallocate some of our resources to meet those needs?  Can we repurpose outdated programs to meet our current needs?  If not, priorities must be determined, and certain needs must be protected from over taxation.

I am a firm believer that all recipients of the government’s services need to contribute financially to the budget.  Then our legislature needs to remember that those budgetary decisions affect the everyday lives of the electorate.  

Finally, I believe that if our legislature would approach decisions from a principle-based paradigm, rather than a situational paradigm, our laws could be simpler and more efficient.  For example, I believe educational opportunities provide the best chances for our children to become productive adults.  Therefore, my legislative decisions are weighed against that principle as a litmus test.  I believe the government should serve the people and work efficiently.  Therefore, I will support legislation that will solve a problem.  Again, my name is Jennifer Hogge and I look forward to working with you to make Utah its very best!  You can reach me at (801) 888-1672 or by email at Jennifer@jenniferhogge.com.