The homebuilding business has changed just as dramatically as the rest of the world has in the past 40 years, Gov. Norm Bangerter told members of the Home Builders Association of Greater Salt Lake recently at the Cottonwood Country Club.
And just as the world cannot return to a more prosperous period in history, neither can the homebuilding trade, he warned. "We're in a time when we have to meet the challenges of today," Bangerter said. "We've seen this nation become the greatest economic power in the world, but now we're seeing that slip away from us."Bangerter said that in 1982, the United States was the world's greatest creditor nation, but since that time, the country has become the greatest debtor nation. He said this has occurred because the people have forgotten what it was that made America, as well as Utah, strong.
"Our forefathers came to this state 141 years ago looking for freedom and elbow room and the opportunity to establish their own way of life," he said. "We can be a prosperous nation again - but we can't do it by living off the fat of the land. We all have to roll up our sleeves and go to work."
The economic challenges that the nation faces reflect similar challenges in Utah. In his past 31/2 years as governor, Bangerter said he has had the opportunity to deal with those particular issues that concern Utahns. He said his technique has been to meet those challenges head-on and make the best decisions for the state based on his experience.
"As governor, I haven't sat back and said, `Gee, Scott, you left me a mess.' I believe I've provided the most economical government . . . and I'm proud of my record," he said.
Coming from a homebuilding background, Bangerter said he understands the economic difficulties of the business and how that has affected the state's economy. But the answer to a better economy does not include tax rollbacks.
Bangerter quoted statistics concerning the state's education budget. For every 100 adults in the state between ages 18-65, Utah has 47 children attending public school. The national average is 31. He said the education budget could be reduced by one-third if Utah had the national average number of students.
"And with those figures, we spend less per student than any other state in the nation," he said.
Concerning the economic and political issues that occur in Utah, Bangerter said it is time to "quit fooling around in politics and learn to work together."
"When things are a little tough, that's when you have to dig in and go to work," Bangerter said. "Our society is an orderly one and one that requires we work together. We have to think in those terms."