tv Utah Governor Gary Herbert State of the State Address CSPAN February 10, 2016 7:35pm-7:59pm EST
next, utah governor gary herbert delivers his annual state of the state address at the state capitol in salt lake city. this is 25 minutes. >> all rise. the honorable gary r. herbert, governor of the great state of utah, and first lady jeanette herbert, followed by spencer cox, our lieutenant governor, and his wife abby. [ applause ]
>> governor, welcome to the joint conference. >> well, thank you very much. it's always an honor to be with you here at this special occasion. president niederhauser, speaker ewes, members of the legislature, attorney general sean reyes, auditor dugal, justices of the utah supreme court, lieutenant governor and mrs. cox and utah's first lady, my wonderful wife, jeanette. my fellow utahns, the utah we know and love today stands on higher ground because of the many sacrifices of utahans who have gone before us. let me begin this evening by acknowledging two of these giants who left us this past year.
former governors norm bangerter and arlene walker. among governor bangerter's many achievements, he deserves great credit foreign creasing education funding and improving government efficiency in a time of economic uncertainty. governor bangerter was a down to earth leader who liked to say he was just an old farmer and carpenter from granger who happened to be governor. we all saw so much more in norm bangerter. he was a true leader who had the courage to stand up for what he believed. he knew how to partner with the legislature to solve the critical issues of the day. in short, norm offered utah what we need in this state, and that is the steady hand of leadership. governor walker was also a leader and a trail blazer. the first woman to hold utah's highest office. just as important, she was a tireless advocate for education who established early reading initiatives in our utah schools. as a state legislator she had
the foresight to create utah's rainy day fund to help us prepare our state for the unforeseen events of the future. that rainy day fund now has $528 million in it. the largest amount in our state's history. and for establishing and prudently increasing the rainy day fund, both governor walker and everyone here in this body deserves a round of applause. [ applause ] this week we witnessed a remarkable outpouring of love and support for hometown hero officer doug barney, who gave the ultimate sacrifice while in the line of duty. he was a husband, a father of three beautiful children, a dependable friend and brother, and an honorable public servant. in honor of him and others who
have left and gone before, let us today commit ourselves as a state to show greater respect and appreciation for the men and women who willingly put themselves in harm's way to serve, protect, and defend utahans every single day. [ applause ] the question before us tonight is simple. what is the state of our state? and just as important, what are we going to do to make it even better? six years ago our state found itself in the most severe recession since the great depression. the unemployment rate at the time was 8%.
each of us had family members and friends who struggled just to get by. our economy had been weakened, but we did not give up hope. together we set a goal to not only recover from the great recession but to become the top-performing economy in america. six short years later, our state economy has added 219,000 new jobs, with an unemployment rate dropping from 8% down to 3 1/2% today. in fact, in nine of the last 12 months utah had the highest job growth creation of any state in the nation. [ applause ] our economy is now the third most diverse. income inequality is low. our wage growth is up. and just this fall the state of utah was recognized as the most fundamentally sound economy in america.
[ applause ] since i stood here one year ago, businesses across our state have now added approximately 40,000 new jobs. think about that for just a minute. some of you within the sound of my voice know the pain that comes from losing a job. 40,000 new jobs means new opportunities for 40,000 utahans. and this isn't just a statistic. we're talking about real people here. our neighbors, our friends, our family members. so what is the state of our state? the state of our state is strong and i think most of us would say the state of our state is outstanding. [ applause ] that being said, i believe i can do even better.
a high quality of life should mean parents don't have to watch their children leave to go to another town or another state because there are no jobs available where they live. jeanette and i enjoy the singular blessing of having our six children and now 16 grandchildren all living here in utah within 30 minutes of our home. your children may not choose to stay here, but we need an economy strong enough that they always have the choice. unfortunately, this is not the case in some of the rural areas of our state. as we begin this session, i ask you in the legislature to focus on these communities with renewed determination and resolve. thanks to the leadership of senator ralph okerland, we now have new tools available in this battle. soon there will be another industrial development in iron county, roads to a potash mine in beaver county, and other critical infrastructure projects that will enable businesses to expand in rural utah like never
before. while developing this kind of basic infrastructure is the proper role of government make no mistake, it is our small businesses and large businesses and the tens of thousands of hard-working productive utah workers who create utah's economic success and not the government. [ applause ] if we expect to make further progress in rural utah, it will take more entrepreneurs like roland christiansen. born and raised in fayette, utah, population, 245. in his lifetime, roland has developed 38 different patents and started four successful businesses. he has employed hundreds of people. and the place he chose to build those businesses is in his home town in san pete county.
for those of you born and raised in rural utah, your home town needs you. to utahans everywhere, whether you live in blanning or bear river, perwan or plain city, i pledge to you tonight that we will not rest until all 29 counties and all 245 cities and towns in our state are full participants in utah's tremendous economic success. [ applause ] even in those areas where our states have abundant prosperity, we can still do better. recently i had the opportunity to visit with meloday trueblood, a young, single mother from ogden. as a child and now as an adult she has experienced constant economic struggles, homelessness, joblessness, and the feeling that life just isn't what it could or should be. during my visit with her she said something that has left an indelible impression upon me.
she said, governor, a lot of brilliant minds are lost to poverty. in typical utah fashion, meloday decided she was going to do something about her situation. she enrolled in a paralegal program provided by weber state university. she began attending financial planning and budget classes. and because she lives in utah not only will she have a good education but there will be job opportunities for her once she graduates. as meloday has demonstrated, and as i believe, it is education, not entitlement that creates the opportunity for self-reliance. [ applause ] if you remember nothing else from my message this evening, remember this -- education is the most important investment we can make in utah's future.
[ applause ] one of the defining moments in my time as governor came last year when we made one of the largest increases in education funding ever in utah's history. $512 million in all. as i go around the state, i am often thanked by teachers, principals, parents and others for this extraordinary investment in utah's future. members of the legislature, i recognize that you often don't get all the credit you deserve on this issue. i believe that needs to change. so tonight i want to be absolutely clear. on behalf of all 3 million utahans from across this state i'm here to deliver a message that is long overdue. thank you, members of the legislature, for investing in our future. [ applause ]
with finite resources and hundreds of competing demands in last year's session, you made the tough decision that put utah's children first. together, we have invested over $1.3 billion of new money in education over the past four years, which is more money, by the way, committed to education than any other time in utah's history. our sustained, long-term investment in education is already producing positive results. for example, when i first came into office, one in every four utah high school students did not graduate. that was unacceptable to you and to me. step by step that number has improved. i'm pleased to report that utah's graduation rate has grown by nearly 10% and is now at 84%. [ applause ]
that means 3,400 additional students now graduate each and every year from utah schools with increased opportunities like never before. now, 84% is a good number compared to other states, but i know that we can and we must in fact do better. tonight i am challenging teachers, parents, principals, school board members, and most importantly our students, to raise our graduation rate in this state to 90% in the next four years. [ applause ] we can do it. i pledge to you tonight that we will bring to bear the necessary resources, determination, and innovation to achieve this goal. members of the legislature, now is not the time to take our foot off the gas pedal.
let us recommit tonight that we will work together to invest in our children and in our future. [ applause ] as one of the fastest-growing states in america, just a few months ago our state welcomed its 3 millionth resident. with our growing population, we must do all that we can to preserve our enviable quality of life, despite some of the challenges that we uniquely face. one example of the meaningful progress we have made to improve air quality, together we have reduced total emissions by approximately 35% over the past ten years. but the data means very little when the inversion sets in and those emissions hang in the valleys. there's important work yet to be done. one thing is for certain, environmental challenges won't be solved with hyperbole or misinformation. we must invest our limited
resources in programs and technology that will actually work, not just rhetoric that ignores common sense. that's why i'm continuing to push for our refineries to produce much cleaner tier 3 fuel as soon as possible. this is one of the most effective steps we can take to improve air quality. i'm proud to announce that one of our refineries, tesoro, has already agreed to make this transition. i have personally met with every refinery in this state, and we expect others will work with us to fully bring tier 3 fuels to utah. we are currently enjoying a wet winter, but we know from history it may not always be that way. that's why my budget also calls for funds to help find long-term solutions to our water supply to accommodate future needs. we must make an individual and collective commitment to be good stewards of our land, of our air, and of our water.
there's no state in america with as much natural beauty as our state and our combined efforts will ensure that utah's natural wonders can be enjoyed by generations to come. [ applause ] health care is another important issue. some continue to struggle with inadequate health care coverage because of the fundamentally flawed affordable care act, coupled with the u.s. supreme court decision. here in the state of utah we have worked together to try to find a solution. unfortunately, we have not yet succeeded in that effort. too often many of the problems created by the federal government are simply dumped at the feet of the states. we can speak out in defiance. we can choose to ignore them. or we can roll up our sleeves and work together to actually do something. my friends in the legislature,
it's time to find a solution. this problem is not going to go away. this is too important of an issue to ignore. too many utahans work hard and still have no health care coverage. i will promise to you that i will work with you to continue providing constructive, practical solutions to every problem and every challenge that we face regardless of who created them. and i know that you want to do the same thing. no matter what issues we the people face, the states can and do find the best solutions. it's the states, not the federal government, that finds the best solutions. [ applause ] on this issue of health care let this be the session where utah leads the way in finding the right utah state solution.
[ applause ] we have seen that kind of innovation and success in areas of state government. for example, if we had simply added new employees over the last five years at the same rate as our growing population, we would have more than 2,200 additional full-time state employees today. instead, we have reduced the number of state employees by 11%, saving utah taxpayers over $177 million in 2015 alone. what does that improved efficiency mean in practical terms for everyday utah citizens? i'll tell you. it means that our tax burden is one of the lowest in the nation. it means improved efficiency. also means that you can now carry around your fishing or hunting license on your smartphone. it means that we can process fingerprints faster than ever before to get criminals off the streets and behind bars. and we have accomplished what many people would think is the
impossible. we've actually reduced the average wait time down to four minutes at the dmv. [ applause ] four years ago my administration conducted an exhaustive regulation review process that has modified and eliminated 368 regulations. in addition, i have just completed a review of every &háhp &hc% governor since statehood. tonight, i am pleased to announce that i will repeal 52 of these executive orders that are no longer necessary. in washington, d.c., we have a president who thinks it's okay to bypass congress and create laws by executive order. well, that's not the way we do it in utah. [ applause ]
as governor, i will not issue executive orders to bypass you, the legislature, or the will of the people. here in utah, we believe in the rule of law and the three branches of government. [ applause ] to my friends in the legislature, i need your help. if we truly believe in limited government, now is the time to show it. i see that a large number of bills have been filed already and have been opened for this session. some say it might be a record number. most of those bills add a few lines to the state code to fix various issues. but tonight i'm calling on you to do something entirely different. i've instructed my cabinet to work with you to find areas of relevant state code that cannot only be updated and improved but, where possible, deleted altogether.
[ applause ] let this be a session where we cut unnecessary red tape in government. let's shrink the size of the state code. please know that you have a willing partner in my administration to accomplish this laudable and much overdue goal. we cannot simply wait for the next xenafits or tesla to come along and conclude that many laws are onerous and unnecessary. we must streamline government today to allow the 21st century economy to continue growing uninhibited by outdated laws, rules, and regulations. [ applause ] while our economy may be tremendously strong today, there are in fact challenges on the horizon. the federal government still controls and mismanages too much
of our backyard. and we live with the daily threat of a presidential monument declaration. i'm encouraged by the work of representative kevin stratton and others on this issue. i'm also an enthusiastic supporter of the public lands initiative by congressman rob bishop, congressman jason chaffetz, and senator mike lee. i believe these are critical steps to help resolve this long-standing conflict and improve our self-reliance. and of course self-reliance is not just an issue for our public lands. it should permeate everything we do in state government, especially in our annual budget process. while a $528 million rainy day fund is extraordinary, there are other things we must do in order to preserve our state's unprecedented fiscal stability. first and foremost, my proposed budget calls for no new debt and no tax increases. in addition, it pays off $350 million in existing debt. bringing the total debt paid off