SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House's longtime budget chairman, Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley, is resigning from the Legislature to head up Gov. Gary Herbert's budget office.
"It was a struggle to come to the right decision," Bigelow said of stepping down after 16 years in the Legislature, including eight as the House chairman of the Executive Appropriations Committee.
He will also resign as a manager of finance for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' missionary department, where he has worked for more than 28 years.
Herbert turned to Bigelow to replace state budget director John Nixon, who is leaving Utah at the end of the year for a top financial post in the administration of Michigan's new GOP governor.
Bigelow was already looking at a new role in the 2011 Legislature because Speaker-elect Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, had chosen a new House budget chairman, Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville.
Losing his budget chairmanship "made it a little easier" to leave the Legislature, Bigelow said. He said he expects to work well with lawmakers as the chief defender of the governor's budget.
"I've always dealt right up front. I don't know how to do anything else because I'm a CPA," Bigelow said. "I'll be exactly the same."
Lockhart said Bigelow's leaving "will be a loss for the House but for him, I think it's a great decision." The speaker-elect said she did not regret naming a new budget chairman and that she is "very happy with the people I have."
GOP delegates from District 32 will choose a replacement for Bigelow once his resignation becomes effective at the end of the year. The governor is expected to appoint a new representative before the session starts in mid-January.
Also Wednesday, Herbert named Derek Miller as his chief of staff and gave state Planning Coordinator Mike Mower additional deputy chief of staff duties.
Miller is currently the deputy director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development. He'll take over the top administrative post from Jason Perry, who is leaving to become a vice president at the University of Utah.2 comments on this story
Miller said he looked forward to helping Herbert "achieve his vision for the state of Utah in leading the nation as the best performing economy and being recognized as a premier global business destination."
Mower, former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s deputy chief of staff and communications director, said he will "do my part to ensure that Utah continues to be a well-managed state."
Herbert, who won a special election for the remaining two years of Huntsman's term in November, said his new appointments "will hit the ground running in the governor's office and continue the success we have experienced so far."