Members of the National Governors Association have selected Governor Gary Herbert to be the group's vice chair for the next year. The new role could help Herbert push his agenda even further.
The National Governors Association is a bipartisan group of all of the governors in the country. Members of the group work to promote consensus policy issues state leaders have such as collecting state sales tax from online sales. Kirk Jowers is the director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. He says the position is a big deal for Governor Herbert and the state.
“As vice chair and then chair of the NGA, Governor Herbert will be meeting with and will have excuses and opportunities to meet all of the nation’s governors as well as federal officials, top corporate people and he may be meeting on behalf of the NGA but it always gives him an opportunity to pitch the state of Utah,” he says.
Wesley Smith is the governor’s director of state and federal relations and will be working closely with Governor Herbert in his new role as vice chair. He says the position might also help the governor’s efforts to get approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for his Medicaid expansion alternative known as the Healthy Utah plan. The governor’s plan requires recipients of benefits to have a job, something that has become a bit of a sticking point in negotiations.
“We had Governor’s of other states come up and ask us, ‘hey, how’s the work requirement going? Listen, if you guys can make progress on that, that’s going to be really helpful for us. What can we do to help?’" Smith says. "So we engage a larger group to go back and send the same message.”
Herbert will serve as the vice chair until the summer of 2015 when he will become the chair of the NGA.