Governor Gary R. Herbert delivered his State of the State address last night at the Capitol. He showcased Utah’s strong economic growth and pledged to increase support for education.
Governor Herbert focused on education during the first part of his speech calling for sixty-six percent of Utahns to have completed some form of higher education by 2020. He pledged to invest up to 40 million dollars in the science, technology, engineering and math education or STEM program and Herbert promised to improve public education.
“We must continue to fully invest in our growing schools and must also continue to provide our students critical tools like computer adaptive testing and other technologies across all grade levels and social economic strada,” said Herbert.
Herbert turned his focus to the state’s robust economy touting Utah’s low unemployment rate and its healthy rate of economic growth. He spoke about energy development including harvesting fossil fuels and developing renewable sources. The Governor briefly touched on the state’s recent poor air quality saying that every Utah citizen and business must be a part of the solution, but he leveled the majority of blame for inversion air on car emissions.
“Fifty-two percent of the pollution during inversions comes from tail pipes. Whether it’s taking mass transit, idling your vehicle less and car-pooling more, unplugging devices or using energy efficient appliances, each of us individually can do our part. And when we consume less, we pollute less,” said Herbert.
In the Democratic response to the Governor’s speech, House Minority Leader Jennifer Seelig said lawmakers must do more for what she called the state’s top priority.
“We must seriously commit to funding education. We must develop innovative funding solutions that plan for future growth and change. We have a ten year plan for our roads but no ten year plan for our education system,” said Seelig.
Absent from the Governor’s speech was any mention of the state’s pending decision on whether or not to expand Medicaid. In his party’s response Democratic Senate Leader Gene Davis said giving more people coverage under the program is the right move to make.
“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve our communities health by taking advantage by taking advantage of the three year completely federally funded Medicaid expansion,” said Davis.
Governor Herbert ended his speech by citing examples of how government continues to work more efficiently. He declared the state of Utah is strong and growing stronger.