In a brief interview with CNN Thursday, Utah Governor Spencer Cox threw support behind parts of President Joe Biden's $621 billion infrastructure plan. touted Utah's economy and blasted an American tendency to think in terms of false dichotomies.
CNN's Ana Cabrera: Utah’s Republican Governor Spencer Cox is with us now. Great to have you with us, Governor. You signed into law a dozen police reform bills. I couldn't help but notice in that clip we just showed the current lack of republican enthusiasm, they weren't on their feet as someone who has prioritized this issue. What's your reaction?
Governor Spencer Cox: My reaction is: welcome to Congress. This is what happens and it happens all the time. If the Democrat says something, Republicans aren't supposed to cheer, and it's dumb and it's not what the people of our country expect from their leaders. And so -- but that's the way Congress is, and we're grateful that in Utah we're not that way.
Cabrera: Let's talk about what you've done in Utah. You just passed 12 new bills dealing with police reform which include increased training on deescalation. Internal investigations into misconduct will now continue even after an officer leaves their job, and data will now be collected for every use of force incident. Whenever an officer points a gun or taser at someone, that's among many other things you've enacted. You got this work done with work by both parties. What's your message to lawmakers in Washington as they try to negotiate police reform?
Cox: Well, my message is that we've got to stop thinking as Americans, and having to choose between false choices. You can be pro-cop and anti-murder. We can do these things together, and that's what happened in Utah.
I just can't tell you how different and how cool it was at this bill signing, with these 12 bills, we had Republicans and Democrats who sponsored these bills together. We had our law enforcement community, the NAACP and other community activists standing shoulder to shoulder celebrating positive things that happened.
And instead of, you know, defunding the police, we're actually giving more support to our officers, giving them more training. They want to be held accountable. They want to make sure that the bad cops don't get a pass. They want to make sure that we are giving them the training that they need.
And you mentioned it: deescalation training, training around autism, mental health, and suicide by cop, all of those things to help them do their jobs better. And then collecting data so we can see what's working and what's not working and we can make changes where they need to happen.
Cabrera: Quickly if you will on this issue, just for a moment, Republicans we've heard from who believe that it's better left for the states to handle the police reform, individually, do you think there's a federal role in this?
Cox: Well, I think everything's better left to the states to handle, and we have proven that over and over again. The dysfunction in Washington is just unconscionable and it continues. So, I would rather do it our way because we did it the right way. If they want to copy us, that's great but we're proving that we can do it differently here.
Cabrera: President Biden is pushing this big, bold agenda. You've spoken about the importance of investing in the state's infrastructure. Can you get behind the president's plan?
Cox: Well, I can get behind small portions of it. We've been really good here in Utah. We were able to, because of way we handled the pandemic, because of the growth in our economy, we've had a really unique opportunity to invest in education, to invest in infrastructure, and then to give some tax cuts to families and veterans and our seniors and that's the right way to do it.
Cabrera: So what-- forgive me for interrupting but I'm short on time. What parts of this plan could you get behind?
Cox: Well, the parts that actually focus on real infrastructure, right? We need to make sure that we have roads and that we have bridges and that we have those types of things that matter, and some of our infrastructure is aging.
Our water infrastructure, for example, the federal government stopped investing in water infrastructure several years ago, which I think was a mistake and that's one area where we absolutely need to rebuild our infrastructure.