State of the State Address

- SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – Utah Governor, Gary Herbert outlined his goals for the state over the next year.

He titled his State of the State Address; "Building the Foundation for an Even Better Utah."

"I have no doubt we will overcome our challenges. We are blessed with a solid foundation. We have a proud heritage," said Herbert.

He believes it begins with one of the strongest economies in the country.

"Two years ago, we set a goal to create 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. I am pleased to report we are on track," said Herbert.

The Governor says in that time 70,000 jobs have been created, dropping Utah's unemployment rate to 4.1%, the fourth lowest in the nation.

The Governor named education as a top priority.

He pointed to legislation to enhance accountability in the education system, funding for science, technology, engineering and math and a raise for teachers.

"While we cannot thank them enough, we can and should pay them more," said Herbert.

61.6 million dollars to increase teacher compensation, the largest increase since 2008.

Democrats say it's about a 2% raise for teachers and say the Governor didn't mention one of the biggest issues with education.

"I think we need to, of course spend more money on per pupil spending in our state and some of us are doing things to address that issue," said Sen. Patricia Jones, (D) Holladay.

Another priority is Utah's poor air quality.

"It is a challenge we all share, and we all share in the responsibility to fix it," said Herbert.

He announced two steps that will be implemented immediately.

One, accelerating the transition to cleaner gasoline and lower emission vehicles.

Two, limiting some wood burning during the entire inversion season...

"These two steps are among the most significant and effective we can take immediately to clean our air," said Herbert.

Democrats say's it's a step, but more needs to be done.

"I think we can make a difference if we pass meaningful, significant legislation. Now, it's going to be costly, they are not free bills, on the other hand not as costly as not cleaning up the air," said Rep. Patrice Arent, (D) Millcreek.

Finally, the Governor took aim at the federal government.

Saying recent rulings, laws and the government shutdown are examples of how our nation has strayed from the intentions of the founding fathers.

"Whether the issue of marriage, Medicaid or management of our public lands, our right to find Utah solutions to Utah issues is being hindered by federal overreach," said Herbert.

In a much lighter note Wednesday night the Governor announced legislation to change the Utah state tree to the Aspen.

It started a few months ago when a fourth grade class from Monroe Elementary in Sevier County asked, why is our Utah state tree the Colorado Blue Spruce?

It was enough for the Governor and other law makers to take action.

More Stories

Don't Miss

Latest News

Video Center