When spring comes to Utah and the Legislature ends, Gov. Norm Bangerter will have his governmental house in order. His policies will be prepared and he will be ready to move ahead with the next four years of his administration, his top aide says.
Earlier this month, Bangerter made his final decisions on department executive directors - he kept most of them - and now he sits down with those directors to talk about keeping their division and agency bosses - the next tier in the government's hierarchy.While personnel is important, you can't lead if you don't know where you're going. The blueprint - not yet clear - of what the next four years will look like is formulating now in the minds of Bangerter, Lt. Gov. Val Oveson, chief of staff Bud Scruggs and other top administration aides.
Scruggs, always quick with an analogy, likens Bangerter's position to a professional football team. "The team owners (voters) have decided to keep the coach, even though it has been a couple of tough seasons (the past four years). The coach has decided to keep most of the players. He trusts them. They've worked hard," Scruggs said.
"But we know past seasons haven't been good enough. More is expected. So we're getting a new play book, a new attack plan." That play book will be Bangerter's long-term agenda - three or four major goals he wants achieved before the end of his second term. "His legacy, if you will.
"We'll have a legislative agenda for this session, of course. Basically, that's the governor's six-point tax plan (promised during the campaign). But we'll also have a long-range agenda," said Scruggs.
That agenda was education, efficiency in government and economic development in Bangerter's first term. That sounded nice - the three `Es' - but it didn't stick in the citizens' minds and was too broad for department heads to focus upon.
"The governor knows what he wants - to lead this state forward. We in this office have to figure out how to help him do it. We're reorganizing the staff here toward that end," said Scruggs.
Scruggs wants to hire one more person, what he calls a strategic planner. "We need someone top drawer, like from the Kennedy School of Government, for that job." With Bangerter, Oveson, Scruggs and a couple of others, the planner will lay out a scheme to implement the governor's vision.
With a reorganized staff in place, Scruggs sees a system in the governor's office that, one, solves constituent problems; two, communicates with constituent and political groups; and, three, plots out policy and goals.
It all sounds simple and straightforward. But it hasn't always functioned like that.
One example often quoted by former Bangerter aides as coming up short is the ALERT program, which started in early 1986. ALERT was the governor's attempt to warn citizens that public education was headed for a crunch - too many kids, too little money. Among other goals, ALERT was to brace citizens for an upcoming tax increase and lay the ground work to sell that increase.
But when Bangerter suggested a $220 million tax hike in December 1986, the political roof fell in on him. A tax revolt began, indicating that citizens didn't understand the need for the increase. Other work wasn't done as well.
Reform within the educational community was supposed to be a key element in ALERT - the belief being you can sell a tax increase if you convince people the additional money isn't going down a bureaucratic rat hole. Though wide-ranging reforms were often promised to educators and media reporters alike, little educational reform actually came from the governor's office.