Working Together Toward Economic Recovery, Educational Excellence and Energy Security
Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert
August 11, 2009
Governor - and, now, Ambassador Huntsman - Chief Justice Durham, President Waddoups, Speaker Clark, First Lady Norma Matheson, Governor Bangerter, Governor Leavitt, Governor Walker, Lt. Governor designee Bell, friends and fellow Utahns:
May I begin by thanking my friend The Most Reverend John Wester, Roman Catholic Bishop of Salt Lake City for invoking God's continued blessing upon our State. It would be inconceivable to me to assume this trust without asking for the help and guidance of a Higher Power.
I stand before you today, under the majestic dome of our Capitol, honored and humbled to have taken the oath of office as Utah's 17th Governor. Many great leaders have come before me - many of them are here today. Because of their vision, as well as the contributions of countless others, Utah has become the greatest state in the nation.
I am joined today by my wife, Jeanette. She is my inspiration. She has been my partner through thick and thin for nearly 40 years. Together, we have raised six wonderful children. They, along with their respective spouses, our grandchildren, our parents, and other family members are here with us today. As a family, we have shared experiences both profound and simple. We appreciate our family's support and know they share in our excitement to serve the people of the state we love in this new capacity.
Five years ago, I joined with Governor Jon Huntsman to lead and serve the people of Utah. It has been my great honor to be part of this team. Over the past five years, Utah has had many accomplishments and received significant positive recognition. Utah has been named "the best managed state" in the nation, the state with the one of the most dynamic economies, and has been repeatedly ranked as one of the best states to do business.
These are but a few of the many national accolades that recognize what a truly exceptional state Utah is. They are but a few of the accomplishments that can, in large measure, be attributed to the leadership of Governor Huntsman.
Governor Jon Huntsman and First Lady Mary Kaye Huntsman have tirelessly given their time, talents and energy for what they have called "a labor of love." This, to the lasting benefit of all Utahns. As they answer the call of our country to accept this most important diplomatic assignment, let me lead all Utahns in expressing our profound thanks to the Huntsmans for their service to our state.
Thanks to your efforts, Governor Huntsman, we are well prepared to address the challenges that confront us and embrace the future that awaits us. As Governor, the future will be my focus and the continued success of our state will be my goal.
These are challenging times for America as a nation, for Utah as a state, and for many individuals and families who call Utah home. But I am confident we have within ourselves the ability to not only confront what is now before us, but to partner together in new and innovative ways to meet any challenge that may come our way.
It is time for unprecedented partnerships.
Together, we can, and will, be a state that continues to lead the nation in many areas and, in fact, serve as an example to those around us.
We are living in challenging times, times of uncertainty. A time when storm clouds seem to be gathering, at home and abroad. We face a struggling economy. We have a dizzying national deficit that piles upon our already astronomical national debt. And individuals, we know that living beyond our means always brings a day of reckoning and we wonder how it could be any different for a nation. Those who tuck young children in bed at night perhaps wonder and worry the most.
Despite these extraordinarily challenging times, for the people of Utah, there is still much good news. We have been fiscally responsible. Our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the nation, and we have recently been named by the American Legislative Exchange Council as the state most likely to recover first from the recession.
We have a highly skilled and trained workforce, a diverse economy, a young and dynamic population, and an unsurpassed quality of life. Our well-managed state government has a balanced budget, a Triple A bond rating and competitive tax rates. But still, there is much work to do.
Today, I would like to speak briefly about three things that will serve as my primary focus as your governor.
My first and highest priority will be the economy here in Utah. A state with sufficient employment opportunities is a state that can expect economic stability. Jobs pay the bills - for individuals and for families. Jobs, and the taxes they generate, produce the revenue that allows state government to support education, healthcare, transportation, infrastructure, public safety and other vitally important social services. If we can get the economy right, most everything else falls into place.
With this in mind, we must thoughtfully secure the jobs we already have and foster an economic environment that encourages the private sector to create new jobs. To protect our existing jobs, we must maintain a healthy business climate, a well-educated and highly skilled workforce, and competitive tax rates.
Utah's favorable business climate has allowed local businesses like Winder Farms in West Valley City; Gossner Foods in Cache County; and furniture giant RC Willey to employ Utahns for generations. Also, more recently formed businesses such as medical device manufacturer, Merit Medical; Omniture, a leading provider of online business optimization software; and Sorenson Communications, the nation's leader in communication services for the deaf and hard of hearing, are growing and prospering right here in Utah.
These businesses - and hundreds of others like them throughout the state - are made up of hardworking and talented people who provide products and services that benefit the world while employing thousands of our friends and neighbors right here at home.
My commitment to you is that, first and foremost, we will recognize the great significant importance of our own local businesses and work with you for your continued success.
As we confront the economic realities of today, we must also prepare for the economy of tomorrow. This means we must strategically and proactively recruit companies to Utah. In the past five years, Utah has become a premier business destination for companies known throughout the world. Companies such as Goldman Sachs, eBay, Disney Interactive, Hershey, Proctor & Gamble, Amersports, and Microsoft have all chosen to either expand or relocate to the Beehive State. I believe even more are poised and ready to come to Utah.
But we can't simply rest on our laurels and read our press clippings. In order to take charge of our economic future, we must seek out and eliminate barriers to growth and we must thoughtfully position ourselves to emerge from the recession with an even stronger economic foundation. I am confident that this can and will happen, because with you the people, we will make it happen.
Let me be clear. I believe in free enterprise, the risk and reward system that some call capitalism. But "free enterprise" is best characterized as "freedom." I believe in empowering the private sector. When it comes to free markets, there is no state in this country that can surpass our hard work, industry and innovation. As we work together, Utah will continue to be a leader in promoting free enterprise.
Key to any sustainable economic development effort is the ability to produce a well-educated and highly skilled workforce that can compete - and win - in the marketplace.
Great education is paramount to great economic opportunity.
Utahns have historically placed great value on education. Within weeks of arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, 17-year-old Mary Jane Dilworth established the area's first school. Even though the fields needed to be planted and the homes had to be built, those early pioneers still sacrificed their very meager resources to make certain their children received an education.
Those early classes took place in a tent, in the middle of a stockade. There were no chairs, just logs, and no desks, only wagon parts to provide surfaces for reading and writing. Even in these less-than-favorable conditions, the students were grateful to learn and their parents thankful for these educational opportunities for their children.
The pioneers also recognized that their young people needed higher education and training. Thus, just three years later in 1850, territorial leaders established what would ultimately become the University of Utah.
Utah's founders knew then what we still know is true today: the long-term well being of our state and its people depends directly upon our commitment to education.
Education, particularly well-focused higher education, enables career opportunities, economic stability and a richer, deeper quality of life.
We cannot have sustainable economic growth - or be competitive in what is now a global marketplace - if we don't properly educate the rising generation. In the 21st century, our competition isn't just Idaho, Colorado, or California. It's India, Canada, Mexico, and, as Ambassador Huntsman knows, it's China. Today, more than merely gaining a diploma, our students need the skills that will provide a passport to the world.
The future requires that we have a seamless education system that will help students transition from kindergarten through high school and onto post secondary higher education and training.
We applaud our educators. We salute those who work in the classroom, coach on the field and inspire in school science laboratories. But teachers can't do it alone. They need help from each of us. We need parents to be responsible and to be involved. We need business and community leaders to step up and help in every way they can. We need all of us, in an unprecedented way, to form a partnership for educational excellence. The possibilities are limitless if we work together.
I am here today to tell you that, as your Governor, I will take a hands-on, proactive approach to work with all of the stakeholders to improve education in our state. As we come together as parents, students, business leaders and community mentors, we can, and will, meet the growing educational challenges we face and become a shining example of what a world-class education system looks like.
My third critical priority is energy.
Essential to our future, particularly in rural Utah, is the development of energy resources. Utah has a rich abundance of natural resources which, when combined with our unique spirit of innovation and entrepreneurism, will make our state a critical contributor to America's energy security. We remember the extremely high cost of gasoline just one year ago. This was caused, in part, by foreign control of a much-needed resource and the failure to sufficiently develop our own supplies here at home. We can, and we must, develop our natural resources, but we must do it responsibly and with an eye to our children's future.
We will not forget our duty to be good stewards of our land and protectors of our environment. Clean air and clean water are something we all value. The Utah quality of life is greatly enhanced by our beautiful canyons, our stunning mountains, and our incomparable red rock deserts. Protecting our extraordinary natural wonderment and meeting our pressing energy needs are not mutually exclusive goals.
We've come a long way since Utah pioneers first began to mine coal in Carbon and Emery counties. We have watched the development of a geothermal plant outside Milford, the placement of wind turbines at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon and in Beaver County, the completion of a hydroelectric power plant at Jordanelle Reservoir and the construction of a solar power plant in Utah's Dixie. Researchers in the state, both in public and private settings, are leading the charge in the development of carbon capture and sequestration technology. This technology will benefit the users of energy produced by coal and help preserve our environment for generations to come.
As one of the fastest growing and resource rich states in the nation, we must do our part to help America achieve energy independence - Utah's role will be second to none!
Though I have chosen today to highlight economic development, education and energy - and will throughout my administration - I nevertheless recognize that each function of state government is also deserving of attention. As I work closely with legislators to craft a balanced state budget during these uncertain times, I pledge that each concern and every issue will receive the attention it merits and that the pressing needs of the public will be prudently balanced. I will manage our state finances with the same discipline and frugality that is incumbent upon every individual and family.
As I assume this responsibility as your Governor, I will be guided by several core principles and beliefs that have always been inherent in my public service.
First, like all of you, I express my gratitude for the freedom that all of us enjoy as Americans. It was freedom's divine spark that ultimately flickered into the bright blaze that we now know as the American Revolution. It was that revolution that continues to inspire others across the globe to seek liberty even today. Many have paid the price for freedom, past and present. We will never take for granted their sacrifices.
Our hosts today are members of the Utah National Guard, led by General Brian Tarbet. We honor and salute these noble citizen soldiers. I am proud that I was once numbered among their ranks.
As a state, we do not forget that we are a nation still at war. And as a people, we will not forget that sacrifices made in distant lands make it possible for us to enjoy freedom and live in peace here at home.
Second, let me also affirm that I believe in the appropriate - but limited - role of government. I believe that what government we have ought to be well-run and efficient. As stated by former President Ronald Reagan in his farewell address, "There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts." As Governor, I will lead the charge for government efficiencies in all that we are tasked to do.
Third, I reiterate my commitment to fiscal responsibility. Simply put: don't spend more than you earn, and live within your means. This is good counsel for all of us, as individuals and government.
Fourth, I believe in self reliance. This pertains to both the individual and the State. As a nation we seem to be drifting from a culture of self reliance. Government entitlement can never substitute for individual responsibility or for the inherent roles of family, neighborhood and community.
Given the current economic climate, it is wise to remember the counsel of Henry Blood when he was sworn in as Governor of Utah in 1933, during the height of the Great Depression. He stated: "The people should demand of government only what they can afford to pay for; and should willingly pay for what they demand."
I also affirm my support for the principle and importance of state's rights. We should never forget that we, as a nation of United States, created the federal government, not the other way around. In today's political environment, it is all too easy to feel an increasing temptation to let Washington take care of us in a variety of ways. We know from experience that a government closest to the people is more responsive, more effective, and costs the taxpayers less money. Let us commit to build "bottom up," and not "top down."
Finally, and maybe most importantly, I pledge to lead a government that is open, honest, accessible, and accountable. During the past four years I have been fortunate to travel across our broad and diverse state - from Navajo Mountain to Newton, from Callao to Castle Valley, and to all 29 counties and scores of communities in between. I have come to appreciate the rich diversity of our people as I have met with you in your homes, churches, schools, businesses and factories. Going forward, I pledge to maintain the same level of outreach that I did as Lieutenant Governor. I believe that state government - and most importantly your Governor - should be accessible to the people.
To this end, I fully intend to continue to travel and meet with people throughout this state from all walks of life. We need to listen to one another, to evaluate challenges, to unitedly find solutions and to truly create unprecedented partnerships.
I challenge each of you to see Utah as a "Community of State," where we do not look at one part of the state and say "that's their problem" but instead say "that's our problem."
Recently, we celebrated the 4th of July, America's birthday. And even more recently, we celebrated the 24th of July, the day the pioneers first came into this valley. It is interesting to observe the story of the founding of this great country and how it parallels the beginnings of our own state. Utah's pioneers, like the pilgrims before them, traveled across a great expanse in an epic journey for greater freedom and opportunity.
Our pilgrim forefathers ultimately found that freedom here in this extraordinary land separated from the world by two great oceans. And our pioneer forefathers found it here in this valley, separated from the world by a vast plain and a great mountain range.
Freedom's journey has never been an easy one. Those who came before us traversed 1,400 miles in bitter cold, sometimes burying loved ones along the way. They came to this desert in the wilderness to plow and plant, to build roads, bridges and waterways - chiseling through miles of dirt and clay and rock just to bring relief to the dry, parched soil. And somehow, in spite of what must have seemed an impossible task, one that was fraught with great and difficult challenges, they succeeded. And, as they said, they made this desert blossom as the rose.
How did they do it? They worked together in unprecedented ways.
Through the will of the people, Utah has always blossomed as a state. Our light shines even when others grow dim.
In January 1896, just days after achieving statehood, Utah's first Governor, Heber Wells, made the following statement to conclude what would be Utah's first inaugural address:
"In the great firmament of nations, the United States is the constellation most beautiful, most sublime. ... through all ages and ages may Utah be one of the brightest stars in that glorious constellation."
And, today, in August 2009, I pledge to you, as your 17th governor, that I will work tirelessly...I will sacrifice willingly...and, together, we will ensure that Utah's light shines like never before!
And when the question comes, "What is that bright star in the Western sky?", let the answer have something to do with the people of this great state reflecting that light from above that guides us in all we do.
May God continue to bless the United States of America and the great state of Utah.