Gov. Norm Bangerter and his Democratic opponent, Ted Wilson, kept up their criticisms of each other Monday, with Bangerter saying Wilson's arguments are "pure baloney" and Wilson saying the governor confuses his "tough decisions with bad decisions."
The two spoke and answered questions before the Utah Automobile Dealers Association. Independent gubernatorial candidate Merrill Cook wasn't invited to attend.When Wilson said Utah's unemployment rate is as low as it is because there's been an out-migration of people, Bangerter responded, "Ted, that is pure baloney. Some people have left, sure, but our population is growing.
"Our record (the Bangerter administration) tops his (as Salt Lake mayor) 10-to-one. If you want hype, Ted Wilson is your man. If you want a proven, solid record, then Norm Bangerter is for you," the governor said.
Wilson rose to that comment. "Pure baloney? We've had four years of baloney. Baloney? Most governors don't talk that way (about their political opponents). I've given you a number of my ideas today. They are not baloney at all," Wilson said.
Bangerter, who trails Wilson by 13 points in the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll, continued to take the fight to the former mayor. At one point Bangerter said he wasn't comfortable "taking Ted on," criticizing him as he has.
But, Bangerter said, he's tired of Wilson criticizing his administration for the last year when Wilson was a teacher at the University of Utah, "and should have been teaching" instead of campaigning for governor.
"You think you can reform education in this state when you (Wilson) are in the pocket of the UEA (Utah Education Association)?" asked Bangerter. "You're mistaken. The UEA doesn't want it (reform)." Wilson was a teacher and the UEA has contributed to his campaign.
Referring to Wilson resigning during his final term as mayor to go to the U., Bangerter said, "I'll never quit, not Norm Bangerter. I'll stay and work."
Wilson put forward several proposals to help Utah's economy, which he said is in bad shape, but which Bangerter said is improving every day.
First, Wilson defended bonding proposal as a much-needed, quick way to jump-start the economy. He qualified his statement, however, saying he wasn't asking for a $150 million bond, but that the state could bond up to $150 million without raising taxes. He thinks the state should refinance its debt "to fix the roads" and build other needed projects. "These are investments, not some wild spending spree."
Bangerter said Wilson's plan is the same as doubling the state's debt and would risk the AAA bond rating, the highest in the nation.
Wilson said he wants to give an employee tax credit. For every additional employee a Utah business hires on, "the state would reward you (through a tax break), not punish you businessmen and women." He said nothing has been done to help Utah businesses grow.
Bangerter replied: "Another tax credit. Ted, do you now how many we have already? There are 30 on the books, from farm machinery to those who help Kennecott and Geneva. It is ludicrous to say we've done nothing."