Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) used his first state of the state address to call on lawmakers Jan. 26 to exercise fiscal restraint and not raise taxes, but to also protect education from budget cuts.
Herbert took office last August after President Obama tapped former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. (R) as U.S. ambassador to China. Herbert will run for office in his own right this fall in a special election.
He criticized the "continued encroachment of the federal government into our businesses, our lives and our pocketbooks" and admonished Washington for a health care plan that he said would "balloon our national deficit and provide questionable care to our citizens."
The governor pointed to Utah's Health Exchange as "one example of how states can - and should - lead the nation on health care reform." The Exchange is designed to connect consumers to information they need to make informed health care choices.
Herbert, a former lieutenant governor and county commissioner, said he recognized that "the tough times are not entirely behind us" but added that, economically, Utah is "well ahead of most other states in the nation." He said for the first time in three years, the state expects an increase in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.
"We recognize the tough times are not entirely behind us," he said. "I think, in these challenging economic times, the 2010 session will primarily be remembered for the adoption of a balanced and responsible state budget."
He also created a "Governor's Educational Excellence Commission" to help prepare more students in science, technology, engineering and math. He also called for a 10-year, strategic energy plan.