Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Survey Response: Ron Hilton, Candidate for Utah House District 37

Ron Hilton
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Ron Hilton, candidate for Utah House District 37.

Ron Hilton:
As a volunteer with the BSA I have worked with a number of autistic youth over the years, and am very supportive of them and their families. I enjoy working with them and seeing the dramatic achievements that are possible.

Insurance Coverage:   SB57 was passed in the 2014 legislative session. It goes into effect on January 1, 2016, and among other things, will require individual and large group plans to cover a limited amount of behavioral therapy for autistic children through age 9. The bill has a sunset clause which will cause it to expire on January 1, 2019. 

Would you support renewal or expansion of SB57 if the costs prove to be manageable?

Ron Hilton:  Yes, as long as it does not require a tax increase.

Wandering: Wandering (or elopement) is an issue that affects around half of children with ASD, as well as many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. There are substantial costs involved with search efforts that often require emergency personnel. There are also promising technologies, such as smartphones, GPS, and Bluetooth, which can help with tracking these individuals. 

 Would you support efforts to:
  • better understand the extent of the wandering problem in Utah
  • promote training for emergency personnel
  • identify technological solutions and help make them affordable for caregivers
Ron Hilton: Yes, as long as it does not require a tax increase.

Education: Education is a priority for many UAC members. Kids on the spectrum often require special education resources.

What do you see as the current state of the Utah education system, including Special Ed, and what steps would you support to improve it?

Ron Hilton:  We have some great Special Ed teachers and staff, and also some that need improvement. And there are a few who should probably be working elsewhere in education (I speak from personal knowledge). Improving public education is my top priority. I have a plan for increasing funding for education without increasing taxes, which would be targeted to the classroom. Specifically, it would be a merit pay system for teachers, as developed by parents, educators, and the teachers themselves. As a successful high-tech entrepreneur who believes strongly in the free market, I know that free and fair competition is the key to improvement in most areas.

Housing and Employment: When autistic people transition out of the public school system, many of them need help with housing and employment. According to the 2013 Annual Report of the Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities, Over 5,000 Utahns received services, and 80% of them had an intellectual disability. Another 1,892 Utahns are on the waiting list.

Would you support steps to improve housing and employment opportunities for individuals with autism?

Ron Hilton:  I believe that continuing education, including on-the-job training, is the best way to address these issues.