Having a positive attitude about Utah and feeling comfortable with where the state has been, where it's at and where it's going makes Gov. Norm Bangerter the most-qualified candidate for governor, he said Monday.
"I don't come to you apologetic, but come to you comfortable in a sense that I know I've helped move the state forward," Bangerter told the Utah County Republican Women's Club."There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm building in the state, and I believe we are moving forward (economically) because we are on a strong solid foundation."
When he became governor four years ago, Bangerter said, the state faced a number of economic challenges with the closing of Geneva Steel and Kennecott Copper. Shortly after, the space shuttle accident occurred.
During those four years of difficulty, the governor said, he has reduced the state's debt from 13 years to six years and the state has the lowest unemployment rate since 1979.
"I have met the challenges head on, and I think that is the kind of record we want," he said.
He said he became governor with a plan to work with the driving forces behind his administration - education, economic development and efficiency in government.
In education, Bangerter said, major reform took place when districts were given state funding in block grants. The block-grant program has allowed local districts to make decisions as to what education programs ought to be like in their schools.
Bangerter also urged that citizens be responsible and be involved in education to see that schools are responsible with their money and have strong curriculum.
"It is time to quit thinking that everyone else has to solve the problems," he said. "The problems are ours."
Economic development is critical to the state because a more responsive system will bring businesses to Utah, the governor said. By the end of this year, 50,000 more Utahns will be working than were four years ago.
Bangerter said his administration has made great efforts to recruit corporations to Utah, and because of that effort the state's economy has improved.
But if tax-limitations initiatives are approved by voters, Bangerter said, there is no question that there will be a dramatic reduction in services. "We will know a difference," he said.
"The tax initiatives are aimed at cutting out a lot of fat, but we have already been working on ferreting it out," he said. "We are already the leanest of any state in America.
"If people can judge that they can live at a lower level of services, then they should vote for it."
Pearl Rex, Utah County Republican Women's Club chairwoman, said: "Our governor has tried to serve as best he could, and it's time to stop faultfinding and nitpicking and start being grateful for the things he has done. I think this should be a time for gratitude."