Washington's continuing failure to take real steps to balance the federal budget is hitting Utah hard, making it even more important to get the state's financial house in order, says Gov. Norm Bangerter.

Speaking to the Utah Association of Counties here Thursday, the governor said it was foolish to think in terms of special interests - or that there can any longer be separate agendas for state, federal and local governments."There is really one agenda that this country needs to follow . . . we have to think in terms of what's good for all of our people and try and make prudent and wise decisions," Bangerter said.

He said local and state officials took the hit in elections earlier this month for Congress' and the president's failure to deal responsibly with the federal budget mess.

"We didn't raise taxes. They raised taxes," Bangerter said, lamenting the Republican Party's losses to Democrats in congressional and legislative races.

Nonetheless, the governor said local and state governments need to make sure Congress knows they are willing to cinch in their belts if the federal government will do the same.

"We've got to send a consistent message that we're willing to take the cuts, and we're willing to live without the money if (the Congress) put their economic house in order. That's the message we all have to live by," he said.

"We're going to pay an awful price if we don't get that house in order," Bangerter added.