Things in Utah are pretty good and they're getting better, but the sugar beets still have to be watered.
The sugar beets watered?Yes, Gov. Norm Ban-gerter says he, legislators and everyday citizens shouldn't repeat the mistake he made as a boy - not finishing watering the sugar beets.
In his State of the State address Monday - a task required by law - Bangerter recalled he didn't quite finish watering his family's sugar beet crop one spring day and had to live the rest of the year with his father reminding him of the dwarfed plants he deprived of water. He learned a good lesson - finish the job.
The governor said he'll do just that the next four years - finish the task he started in 1985 and lead Utah into the 1990s.
He gave a workmanlike account of his first term and briefly outlined what he foresees in Utah's future - good jobs for Utah's children, good schools to train them for those jobs and an adequate safety net to catch those unfortunate enough to require government aid.
It was a similar speech to one he gave during his re-election bid.
"As I traveled the state and listened to the concerns of Utahns in every county and community, I became convinced of two things:
"First, people are concerned about the amount of money being collected in taxes and spent by government.
"Second, people were unwilling to put at risk education and other vital services they support. Although people rejected the specific tax initiatives, they support the concept of limited spending," the governor said.
Utahns want a government accountable to them, he said.
"The days of the blank check are over. And that is healthy. The level of taxes must not be based on the amount of money government can justify spending. Rather, the level of taxes must be determined with the full input and support of a majority of those who pay the bills - the taxpayers."
Democrats and critics of Bangerter's administration won't disagree with that.
But they also don't see Utah's current status as rosy as Bangerter paints it. Still, Monday's opening day of the Legislature was one marked by civility, and that carried over into the restrained responses by Democrats.
The governor's speech was politely, but not enthusiastically, received. Though speaking for more than 20 minutes, he was never interrupted by applause.
Bangerter was determined to make the best showing possible. Recovering from knee surgery last week, he was clearly in considerable pain. He used crutches to walk to the House chambers, but walked without them and unaided to the podium and stood without support during his address.
In his speech, Bangerter went out of his way to praise teachers and college professors. He asked all Utahns to support education.
"Whether or not we have children enrolled in the public schools, they are our schools. We should not be strangers. We should be involved, committed and constructive supporters."
Finally, he encouraged Republicans and Democrats to put aside partisan politics. "We should aspire to be statesmen; our desire to serve not limited by serving those who supported us (in the election), but serving the long-term interests of all Utahns.
"I cannot foresee all that is ahead of us. None of us can. But, working together, I'm confident we are equal to every challenge. We shall provide for all our people the heritage that is rightfully theirs. The heritage of freedom and opportunity."