Utah Governor Gary Herbert touted the state’s economy and recent growth in education funding during his annual State of the State speech from the Capitol on Wednesday night.
Governor Gary Herbert said the state of the state is strong, if not outstanding, but that the state can still get better. He said while he’s grateful that the Legislature has invested more than a billion dollars into education in the last four years, they can do even more.
“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,” he said.
The Legislature’s failure to pass some form of Medicaid expansion, specifically the Governor’s own Healthy Utah plan, was also a main focus of his speech. He said while the Affordable Care Act has put the state in a tough position, he’s willing to work with the Legislature to find a solution.
“This is too important an issue to ignore," Herbert said. "Too many Utahns work hard and still have no healthcare coverage.”
But House Minority Leader Rep. Brian King says he’d hoped that the Governor would be more of a leader on the subject.
“I think in order for us to see Medicaid expansion we’ve got to see a lot more from the Governor," King said. "He’s got to show a lot more leadership and specific things. Either push Healthy Utah again or come up with something else.”
In the nearly thirty minute speech, Herbert also focused on how the state can help improve air quality and plan for long-term water supply needs. And he voiced his support for Republican Congressman Rob Bishop’s public land initiative and called for the legislature to start removing outdated laws and regulations from Utah’s books.