Utah Governor Gary Herbert says, ready or not, the 2015 session is upon us.
Herbert has proposed a couple of ambitious initiatives he'd like to see lawmakers pass, including $500 million of extra funding for education and his Healthy Utah alternative to Medicaid.
"The #1 issue for me is education," says Herbert. "We can't have long term growth and prosperity without a top-notch educational system."
Herbert has proposed eliminating some transportaiton earmarks to pay for his education proposal. That is likely to come up against stiff opposition from lawmakers. Herbert says getting rid of those earmarks is just good public policy.
"If I tried to tie the Legislature's hands and take some money out of the budget without discussion, they would be upset. When they do it to themselves, they ought to be equally upset. They've always said when the time is right, they can change it. I'm saying the time is right and we don't need to be handcuffed anymore."
Utah's economy is roaring right now. Unemployment is low and Utah has a $600 million budget surplus. Herbert says that's not by accident, and it's time for the state to reap the benefits.
"We've been frugal and very careful with our resources. We've always said when the time comes, we will have a harvest time for increasing the amount of money we put into education. Well, guess what? It's harvest time."