Gov. Norm Bangerter admits he's had to make some pretty difficult and unpopular decisions the past 4 years, but overall the governor said he's done a good job.
The Republican governor told a small group of Roy businessmen Monday that he's had to base his decisions on what was best for Utah, not what was best for him politically."Being in politics today is a challenging assignment," he said.
Bangerter is trailing his Democratic challenger, Ted Wilson, by as much as 30 percent in recent polls. Bangerter is seeking a second 4-year term against the former Salt Lake City mayor.
The governor said he took over the office during "troubled times," but that he didn't want to blame Utah's economic woes on his predecessors. He said he would rather pick up the pieces to solve the problems and move ahead.
Some unpopular decisions he said he's had to make involved cutting back funding on some programs and raising taxes.
"I didn't like it (raising taxes). I didn't like to ask for it," Bangerter said. "Every decision isn't going to be easy."
Bangerter said one of his main priorities has been to give the children of the state a good basic education so they could find good jobs once they graduated.
He said educating children in Utah isn't easy because enrollment keeps increasing. He said that the state's school enrollment has increased 23 percent since 1980, while the national average has declined by 10 percent.
He said every 100 adults in Utah must support 47 students, while the national average is 31 students per 100 adults.
Fifty cents on every tax dollar here is used for education and the governor said that taking a bigger chunk out of the budget would hurt education.
Bangerter went on to defend his record, saying he has brought approximately 45,000 new jobs to the state by attracting new industry and encouraging established businesses to grow.
He said that tourism has increased by about 16 percent, and that means more dollars are being pumped into the local economy.
"I feel good about Utah," he said. "We had some bad hits, but I think we've weathered it pretty well."