Gov. Gary Herbert says the 2018 session, which ended at midnight on Thursday, has been one of the best he's ever been around.
Herbert said tops on his list was a big boost in education funding from lawmakers.
"We've always said if we had the money, we would put it in education, and if not now, when?" said Herbert in a Thursday evening interview with UtahPolicy.com. "I'm glad to see them come to the table with a lot of money. $360 million for public education. $170 million in one-time money for higher education. It's not a record, but it's pretty darn close."
Herbert also said he's pleased lawmakers were able to forge an agreement with Our Schools Now, which boosts money for schools from a property tax freeze, as well as putting a $0.10 per gallon gas tax hike on November's ballot. In exchange, the group will drop their ballot initiative and campaign for the gas tax hike.
"I think what they (Our Schools Now) wanted to do was well intended and helped to nudge the legislature to consider giving more money to education," he said.
That rise in the gas tax, if approved by voters, would still need to be enacted by the 2019 legislature. Herbert hopes that happens, and actually plans to campaign for it, because it will allow the state to stop taking some money out of the general fund to subsidize transportation.
Aside from the giddiness about school funding, Herbert says a proposed constitutional amendment passed this session allowing the legislature to call itself into special session is "problematic." Currently, only the governor has that power.
"One of the reasons our legislature does good work is they have a time limit. That's why you see an acceleration the last couple of weeks getting work done," he said.
Herbert worries the provision, if approved by voters, would push Utah to more of a full-time legislature.
"It's not healthy for Utah and would probably make us more like California. They have a lousy government and a full-time legislature. It would be unwise for us to change that."
Now that the 2018 session is over, Herbert's work begins as his staff will review every piece of legislation passed by lawmakers to either sign, veto or let go into effect without his signature. Are there any potential vetoes on his radar?
"There are one or two that may have a constitutional problem, but we feel very good about most of the legislation," he said.