"It becomes a downward spiral because families lose their income and depend more on the government, and if the government has less capacity then it has to tax more and everything just spirals down from there."
Veteran political pollster Dan Jones places a lot of stock in Leavitt's ability to peer into the future and know what the critical political issues will be.
"I think Gov. Leavitt could always understand the overall issues," Jones said. "A long, long time ago he said he did not enjoy unfunded mandates from the federal government and felt that the states could do a lot of those programs better by themselves. That is a mean issue today. He saw that coming."
Nolan Karras, former speaker of the Utah House and chairman of the state Board of Regents, thinks of consistency when he thinks of Leavitt.
"I think one of (Leavitt's) enduring legacies ought to be simply that he did a great job with the 11 years he served and kept the state in great financial order," Karras said. "We're not a California; we're not a New Jersey; we're not an Illinois; we're not in terrible difficulty. Sometimes you don't get rewarded for keeping things steady and on course, but he deserves a lot of credit for what he did."
Is there another run for political office in Leavitt's future in light of the fact that he still has yet to turn 60 years old? Crazier things have happened.
"(Running again) is something I have no plans for, but I didn't before (running for governor) either," Leavitt said. "I expect I'll be in public service in some way or another. Only time will tell."
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