Rep. Richard B. Cheney, R-Wyo., is a great choice for secretary of defense and his appointment is good news for Western states, Gov. Norm Bangerter said Friday.
Bangerter, informed Friday afternoon that President Bush had designated Cheney for the job after the Senate rejected John Tower, said he does not know whether Utah will gain anything from the appointment."But it will not hurt the Western states to have a Westerner in that position," he said, noting that defense installations are important to Utah's economy. "I don't know that it gives us an absolute leg up, but at worst we don't lose anything."
Although Bangerter and Cheney have met, the governor said they are not close friends. "I think he's been a great congressman," Bangerter said.
The governor met informally with reporters Friday to answer wide-ranging questions. Among other things, he said:
-He may decide to veto some bills by Tuesday, the last day he can sign or veto bills from the legislative session that ended last month. But he probably won't veto anything for philosophical reasons. "We're going to spend the rest of the day going over those bills that may be technically flawed," he said. He did not identify which bills may be flawed, saying he had a large stack to review.
So far, Bangerter has vetoed two bills that would have restricted the power the executive branch has to pass administrative rules.
-The strike by Eastern Airlines mechanics and pilots is hurting Utah's economy. Bangerter refused to take sides in the issue but said he believes employees at the Salt Lake reservation center are leaning toward the company's side. "I'm hopeful the reservation center here will survive and stay open," he said. "I think it will."
-He is encouraged by a report released this week showing 25,200 jobs were created in Utah during the 12-month period ending Feb. 28. Bangerter has long said the state needs to create 20,000 jobs each year to keep pace with the number of young people entering the work force.
"Technically, we can keep up at 17,000 new jobs," he said. "But if we can stay in the 20,000 range we'll do well."
Bangerter said he hopes the surge in jobs will soon lead to a rebound in the state's ailing construction industry.
"If the job market keeps accelerating, that will clean out our inventory (of vacant buildings)," he said.
-He is meeting next week with members of the United States Olympics Committee who will visit the Wasatch Front as part of the process of deciding whether to grant Salt Lake City the nation's 1998 Winter Olympics bid. Bangerter said he knew few details of the visit other than that his staff had set aside time for him to meet the officials.