The Buck Should Stop With the Governor

lavarr policy insightsShould Utah’s governor be fully in charge of the executive branch of government?

I certainly believe so. And that means the offices of attorney general, auditor, treasurer and the state school board should be appointed by the governor, not elected.

This isn’t a burning issue in state government right now, and many people will disagree with me, but I believe the buck ought to stop with the governor instead of having power divided among the various elected offices.

I raise this issue because, working with Scott Anderson, the CEO/President of Zions Bank, recently asked about 30 Utah leaders to list what Utah’s top priorities should be to take the state to the next level. You can read about the survey results and top priorities in theDeseret News column by Scott Anderson.

The issue of executive branch constitutional reform was only mentioned by one person, and it obviously didn’t make the top 10 list. But I believe it is important and could improve governance in Utah. I much prefer a strong executive branch – much like the nation’s founders created in the federal government. Let’s elect the person we want to run our state and give him or her the power to do it. If we don’t like it, we can vote the person out.

Proper checks and balances and division of authority are created by having three strong branches of government, not by chopping up the executive branch into fiefdoms. No one is really in charge of education under our current system.

Here’s what the respondent to our request for key priorities said.

“We need constitutional reform to Utah’s executive branch — the incentive structure inherent to an elected attorney general, auditor, treasurer and the State School Board creates unnecessary conflicts of interest and decreases both accountability and transparency.”

“For many of these positions, few people know who they are or their qualifications, let alone the actual job responsibilities of the office they seek. Further, requiring the AG and the School Board to run for office creates unintended conflicts of interest and a serious diffusion/confusion related to government accountability. The state should consider moving each of these elected positions to governor-appointed positions so that the buck can stop with one individual and the public can know who to blame if the state’s justice system or education system isn’t working.”

Hear, hear.

The do-something senator. Like so many people, I was saddened by the death of former Sen. Bob Bennett. I won’t repeat the many nice things that have been said about him, but I believe in some ways his re-election defeat in 2010 may have been a blessing in disguise. I don’t think he would have prospered or enjoyed himself in the hyper-partisan, dysfunctional, and gridlocked Congress that followed his forced retirement. He was a senator who got things done for the good of the state and country. It would have been sad to see him struggle as the Senate descended into its current wretched state, unable to even address the nation’s biggest problems, let alone solve them. I will always remember Bob Bennett as Utah’s go-to guy when something important needed to happen in Washington.

Secretary Huntsman no matter who wins? A friend called me today after hearing that Jon Huntsman Jr. had endorsed Donald Trump and called for Republicans to rally around him. My friend noted that Huntsman is nicely positioned to be invited to be Trump’s secretary of state. It would give Trump instant foreign affairs chops. However, my friend also noted that Huntsman could be on the short list for Hillary Clinton’s secretary of state. As ambassador to China, Huntsman answered to Clinton and by most counts the two had a positive relationship. Clinton would likely nominate a few moderate Republicans to her cabinet, and Huntsman would be a logical choice. So no matter who wins, Huntsman might stay close to his phone.