Politics
11:29 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Herbert: State is Strong, But There are Challenges to Confront

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says the state is strong, but there are still several challenges that Utah must confront. Herbert was speaking at his 5th annual State of the State Address.

Herbert highlighted investigations into former Attorney General John Swallow as a success, as well as the state’s 4.1 percent underemployment rate –which is among the lowest in the nation. But he was also quick to acknowledge the hardships—a booming population, federal overreach and economic development  

He called on officials to hasten the transition to cleaner fuels, limit wood burning during the entire inversion season and replace school buses with lower emission models in order to combat air pollution.  

“Now I know these actions and others will have real costs and real impacts on all of us,” Herbert says. “But I’m convinced the benefits to our economy to our communities and most importantly to our public health will justify the costs.”

The House Chamber erupted in applause when Herbert called for civility on the subject of same-sex marriage.

“Let me be clear, that while I support traditional marriage and will continue to defend amendment 3, there is no place and I repeat, no place in our society for hatred and bigotry,” Herbert says.

Democratic State Representative Patrice Arent says she’s glad the governor is taking air quality issues seriously.

“But the legislature has got to do many more things to make a meaningful difference this session. If he spent the speech talking about all of the different proposals and there are I think 18 of them at this point, he would have had no time to get into education or any other public policy.”

Republican Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said it was clear in his speech the governor intends to reach out to lawmakers.  

“I think a number of our body in the Senate mentioned to me they thought that that was the best speech he’s given as governor. It was very polished and he looked very comfortable.”

Herbert added in his speech that Utah teachers need to be paid more--pointing to his budget proposal, which includes a 2.5  percent increase in the weighted pupil unit.