Election date: Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010
What is your top priority for the State of Utah?
Growing the economy.
A vibrant economy is the tide that raises all boats. More and better paying jobs mean more income tax revenue, and in Utah, income tax is entirely devoted to funding education. Thus, more Utahns employed means better funding for education.
As a business owner for decades, I know what it takes to run a meet a payroll and balance a budget. Democrats in Washington, D.C. are showing that a government can destroy jobs much more easily than it can create them. The best methods to foster job growth are low taxes, limited government spending, and a focus on a business friendly environment to encourage private capital investment. When businesses know they can count on those factors, they expand with confidence.
What will you do to improve Utah?s economy? Many people are having difficulty finding jobs. What are your plans to help create jobs for blue and white collar Utahns?
My plan is in action right now. Since I was inaugurated in August of 2009, Utah has added nearly 20,000 jobs. That's a good start, and we have more on the horizon.
Through the Governor's Office of Economic Development, we are incentivizing local companies to grow, as well as recruiting leading businesses to relocate and expand here. These incentives are post-performance. In other words, businesses receive tax credits only after they have produced the promised benefit to Utah's economy.
Because of the policies we have in place, companies like Adobe, ATK, Black Diamond Equipment, eBay, Microsoft, Edwards Lifesciences, Twitter, and many others have chosen to expand operations in Utah. We have the best quality of life in the country, our taxes remain stable, and our education system is the most efficient in the nation. Good things are happening in Utah. In fact, the American Legislative Exchange Council says Utah is the state best positioned to emerge from the recession.
We cannot control the actions of a spendaholic Congress and the President's misguided agenda, but as Governor, I am committed to keeping Utah's economic climate attractive, and our policies predicated on putting more Utahns back to work.
What type of priority is education, including higher education, to you? What will you do to improve schools and access to higher education?
Two-thirds of Utah's annual budget goes to public and higher education. Along with economic development, education remains my top priority. There is a synergy between economic development and education that goes beyond funding. The stronger our public schools, the more attractive our state becomes to businesses and individuals. The stronger our higher education, the better able we are to provide the highly-educated workforce required to compete in the marketplace. The two are inextricably connected, a fundamental fact that any governor should understand. I certainly do.
When the Utah Education Association endorsed my candidacy for governor, they did so because I opposed "draconian budget cuts that would impact teachers and students" and because I "championed a shift in the public education budget that changed one-time money to ongoing funds."
From the time I was sworn into office with Governor Huntsman in 2005, we made education funding our priority. The largest funding increases in Utah history were implemented under our watch. Since 2005, the amount spent on public education in Utah has grown nearly $1 Billion, or more than 32%, despite the largest recession since before World War II.
During the 2010 Legislative Session, pressure was high to cut education in order to balance the budget. While other state government departments received significant budget cuts in 2010 (some as high as 23%), I stood strong for education. In spite of pressure to gut the education budget, I held the line.
I am a strong advocate for better education funding, and for reform.
This year, I established the Governor's Education Excellence Commission to focus on Utah's entire public education system, higher education, and charter schools. This commission will recommend statewide education reforms and implement long-range planning.
The Education Excellence Commission will "articulate the educational goals and objectives, short term, medium term and long term for public education and higher education (and) establish the education roadmap for success toward building educational excellence in Utah."
No amount of money can substitute for quality teachers, committed students, involved parents, and local control of schools. Utah is blessed with strong families and excellent educators — we need that partnership to continue to grow.
What role should the State of Utah have in immigration reform?
The failure of the federal government to secure our borders is emblematic of its misplaced priorities and a fundamental misunderstanding of its responsibilities. Many of the problems we face today have been decades in the making, caused primarily by the federal government failing to secure our borders and failing to develop a meaningful national immigration policy. The negative impact of these failures has been compounded by the federal government not enforcing existing laws.
Inaction by the federal government has forced the states to enter the immigration reform dialogue.
I am often asked if I support the "Arizona law." Utah is not Arizona. We are not a border state, and - while our concerns may be similar in some ways - Arizona has different challenges than we have in Utah.
This is an emotional and politically charged issue that is ripe for clever sound bites and political posturing. Instead, we must search for common ground.
Earlier this year, I held an immigration roundtable and proposed six guiding principles that should be considered as we discuss immigration reform options:
1) There must be respect for the law. The Utah solution must acknowledge that U. S. Citizenship - by birth or grant - requires reverence for and adherence to the law.
2) The federal government has a responsibility to secure our borders, to enforce immigration laws, and to draft meaningful immigration policy. The federal government has failed in its responsibility, but the responsibility remains theirs.
3) There must be greater accountability from the private sector. Businesses must be responsible for establishing hiring practices that comply with the law to verify legal documentation of all workers.
4) The Utah solutions should recognize and respect the humanity of all people. Immigration reform efforts must be fair, colorblind, and race-neutral.
5) We must provide appropriate tools for law enforcement. The Utah solutions must give law enforcement officers, through resources and training, the ability to enforce the law and to keep our communities safe.
6) We must relieve the burden on taxpayers. There are significant societal costs associated with illegal immigration that simply must be addressed. Our Utah communities, and our taxpayers, can no longer be expected to bear this financial burden.
Do you believe the state government needs ethics reform and campaign finance reform?
In order to have confidence in elected officials, safeguards must be in place to make transparent and open government the standard operating procedure. To that end, I signed 6 ethics bills into law this year. I also chose State Senator Greg Bell as my Lieutenant Governor, a pioneer of meaningful ethics reform in Utah. Improvements in conduct of public business, and the process, are welcomed by my administration.
I am also a proponent of campaign finance reform. As Lieutenant Governor, I made large improvements in Utah's disclosure system, and I know Lt. Governor Greg Bell will continue to make improvements.
Utah is famous for its beautiful landscapes. What will you do to protect and promote these areas?
About 2/3rds of Utah is owned by the federal government. This land cannot be privately developed, and thus produces no tax revenue for the state. For lands under federal government control, the state is given "PILT" money, or "payment in-lieu of taxes". This PILT money is a pittance compared to the revenue generated by having property in private hands.
This imbalance of federal control hinders the state's ability to generate tax revenue. To combat this harmful effect on our schools, I signed The Eminent Domain Authority Bill that calls for the state to use the power of eminent domain to claim federal lands that have created barriers to revenue producing projects that would provide needed funds to our classrooms. Additionally, federal control of such large swaths of land hinders the Utah's ability to access our abundant natural resources, preventing energy development, and limiting opportunities for economic growth. Also access to public access to public lands, and appropriate uses of those lands, has continually generated hard feelings on both sides of the issue, from those who wish to use the land, and those who want to protect it for future generations.
To address this situation, and to put an end to the paralysis that comes from constant bickering surrounding these issues, I developed the Governor's Balanced Resource Council. Headed up by my Senior Environmental Advisor, Ted Wilson, the council includes Utahns with valuable and vast experience in public lands issues, and differing points of view. This collaborative effort will establish sound processes to address matters that have sat stagnant for too long, and is already producing tangible benefits.
What are your views on nuclear testing?
I will fight efforts to test nuclear weapons in Utah. We have already borne too heavy a burden. Down-winders and their families deserve better than they received, and I will not be party to opening Utahns up to the possibility of further nuclear fall-out.
When you are forming an opinion on an issue, who do/will you ask for advice and information?
The Herbert/Bell administration is a team. Lieutenant Governor Bell is an accomplished business leader and public servant, and a source of wisdom. I look to him first for advice, counsel, and insight.
In addition to Lieutenant Governor Bell, I've surrounded myself with an exemplary staff with a wealth of experience in public policy. For example, former Salt Lake Mayor Ted Wilson is my chief environmental advisor. He works collaboratively on public lands issues with my Balanced Resource Council, a group of stakeholders on all sides of public lands issues.
Community leaders are important as well. County officeholders, legislators, mayors, and community advocates like Pamela Atkinson provide invaluable input.
Good public policy must also involve input from the general public. I have an open door policy, and value the many opportunities I have to meet with the people of Utah.
In your opinion, what is the number one issue facing Utah's families today? What would you do as Governor to alleviate that issue?
Economic uncertainty. As noted above, my plan for Utah's economy has Utah leading the nation in economic recovery. We have a way to go before unemployment reaches an acceptable level, but the recovery has begun.
As Governor, I am a steady hand at the wheel. Utah families and businesses can count on me to keep their tax burden as light as possible. They can also count on me to keep education funding a priority.
What is the one personal trait/characteristic that you want voters to know about you, and why is that important in this race?
My father, Duane Herbert, had a saying that stuck with me throughout my life:
"Work will win when wishy-washy wishing won't."
Voters can count on me to not rest until the job is done. I know the value of hard work, and am not afraid to wear myself out in the service of this state.