Governor praises economy, calls for ed funding and less red tape

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert stood before state lawmakers Wednesday evening to declare Utah “outstanding” because of economic growth, lower unemployment, and Utahn’s compassion.

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert, delivers his State of the State address from the House of Representatives at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News via AP, Pool)
Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert, delivers his State of the State address from the House of Representatives at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

Herbert addressed members of both bodies of Utah Legislature in his annual State of the State address at the State Capitol. He praised economic growth within the state, noting that six years ago the state’s unemployment rate was at 8 percent.

Since the recent recession, unemployment has dropped to 3 1/2 percent.  Additionally, the governor reported within the last year Utah added 40,000 new jobs.

“Some of you … know the pain that comes from losing a job,” Herbert said.“40,000 new jobs means new opportunities for 40,000 Utahns.”

Herbert called for economic growth within rural parts of Utah.

The governor then turned his speech toward improvements he would like to see across the state. Herbert spoke of a conversation he had with Mellowdey Trueblood, a young single mother, about poverty’s effect on opportunity.

Herbert said Trueblood told him, “Governor, a lot of brilliant minds are lost to poverty.”

Herbert praised Trueblood’s industrious spirit as he reported how she hoped to bring herself and her family out of poverty through higher education

“As Mellowdey has demonstrated and as I believe, it is education, not entitlement, that creates the opportunity for self reliance,” Herbert said. “If you remember nothing else from my message this evening, remember this. Education is the most important investment we can make in Utah’s future.”

The governor praised legislators increase of public education funding by $512 million in 2015. Herbert then challenged the state to raise the high school graduation rate from 84 percent to 90 percent within the next four years.

Herbert then spoke about environmental and health care issues within the state. Herbert discounted the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, calling it “fundamentally flawed.” He wants a state solution to the lack of healthcare for residents of the state.

“My friends in the Legislature, it is time to find a solution,” Herbert said, “This problem is not going to go away.”

Herbert then spoke of his desires and efforts to cut governmental red tape. He spoke out against greater regulation by encouraging lawmakers to shrink the size of the state code.

“We must streamline government today to allow the 21st Century economy to continue growing uninhibited by outdate laws, rules and regulations,” he said.

As he has in the past, he criticized the federal government’s attempts to regulate public lands within the state. Herbert furthered this sentiment by praising the Public Lands Initiative, announced recently to be introduced in Congress. The initiative would give less control of public land use to the federal government, while also protecting some of Utah’s public lands. The initiative is the work of U.S. Republican Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz along with Utah Sen. Mike Lee.

The governor concluded his speech by reflecting on the public outpouring of support to the family of recently slain Utah Officer Doug Barney. “As Utahns, you are united, you are compassionate, you are inspiring, you are extraordinary,” he said. “I am proud to be a Utahn.”

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