You can read about what he said in the links to other news reports on this page.
I’ll take this space to list what Herbert didn’t say – but what he could have, considering some of the needs in Utah these days.
Yes, Utah is doing well, as Herbert has said time and again, both during his 2012 campaign and afterwards.
Lower unemployment than the rest of the nation.
Named as the best state to do business in.
An economy other states would love to have, providing more and more jobs each month.
A fine transportation system, both in new freeways and new mass transit lines.
An educated and hard-driving workforce.
And on and on.
But while Herbert loves to tout Utah’s achievements – and there are many – we remain stuck with a public education system that is just not cutting it, according to any number of markers.
We may be doing better on ACT scores than the national average, as Herbert pointed out last night. But that is hardly anything to brag about.
Historically, Utah governors have taken the first legislative session after their election or re-election to put forth some bold new plans.
Herbert didn’t do that.
Despite any number of calls for some kind to tax reform, or tax hike, to put hundreds of millions of new dollars into public and higher education, Herbert suggested no such call for action.
In fact, he pointed out that it is his and the Legislature’s job to keep taxes low and to reduce business regulation.
The Salt Lake Chamber Commerce – not a liberal, tax-hiking group of folks – has pointed out a number of areas where Herbert and lawmakers could raise some education funds.
Ironically, the chamber is part of the government/citizen/business group calling itself Prosperity 2020.
Herbert called on legislators to help with that program.
Yet he addressed none of the tax reform/tax hikes suggested on the back page of the Prosperity 2020 prospectus. You can read about ithere.
Taken together, those tax changes could raise $811 million in one time and ongoing revenue, most of which could go to Utah schools and colleges.
Herbert said he’s asking for $20 million this legislative session for the STEM program – science and math – with Utah’s universities promising, together, to cobble another $20 million from their budgets: A total of $40 million more.
A drop in the bucket. And not nearly enough.
Some leading Utahns (and of course Democratic legislators) say if there was ever a time for a Utah Republican governor to step forward and lead out on education funding, it is Herbert and it is now. But he didn’t Wednesday night.
Herbert barely mentioned Wasatch Front’s terrible air quality this winter – we made the national TV networks broadcasts.
Herbert noted his executive order to stop unneeded idling of state vehicles, and the innovative electric busses being developed at Utah State University with a private firm.
Kids can’t play outside and folks with respiratory problems are at real health risks, and Herbert asks for all Utahns to go on the state clean air website to learn what they can do to help, on a volunteer basis, our dangerously unhealthy air.
No new state plan to help with the air problems on the Wasatch Front.
How many out-of-state firms will want to locate along the Wasatch Front if the air for weeks each year is as bad as in China’s major cities?
Not addressed in the State of the State address.
Herbert didn’t mention guns or gun violence at all – an item that will be of interest in this legislative session.
By the way, just before Herbert spoke live on local TV, KSL Channel 5 ran an ad for this weekend’s huge gun show – where you can buy guns to fit your heart’s desire, with no background checks if the purchases are made from one private person to another.
While praising the recent freeway work, which was completed, the governor said, well before the schedule and $260 million under budget, he didn’t mention that the state’s per-gallon gasoline tax has decreased in buying power for 15 years and in no way can provide the $11 billion in road construction and maintenance needed in the coming decade.
Just indexing the current 24.5 per gallon tax to inflation is a start, but Herbert didn’t mention that idea. It would be a tax hike, of course.
The state of Utah may indeed be strong, as Herbert said several times in his address to lawmakers. (And to give him his due, he was more animated and enthusiastic in this speech than he has been in other televised addresses in recent years.)
And Utah may be leading other states as America comes out of the Great Recession.
But there are some tough issues facing the state, especially in public and higher education.
You can read the governor’s address here, and decide for yourself if he has put forward the needed plans, reforms and ideas for the next four years of his term in office.