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Guv gives Aggies political pep talk, vows more support for colleges

January 20th, 2012 Posted in Opinion

Story & Photo by Allie Jeppson
HNC Staff Writer

LOGAN—Utah Gov. Gary Herbert encouraged university students to develop marketable skills and become more informed during his Wednesday appearance on the USU campus at Pizza and Politics, hosted by the USU College Republicans.

There was a large crowd, and the governor’s staff appreciated it. “This was a great turnout,” said Herbert’s campaign manager Scott Ericson. “And it’s exciting to see how many student care about Governor Herbert.”

Herbert, a Republican who served as Jon Huntsman Jr.’s lieutenant governor, is running for reelection. He told the students that the future depends on them.

“You are the rising generation and you are the rising future,” he said. “Are you ready?”

Career success and positive influence on the future depend on three factors, Herbert said: lower tax rates, decreased regulation and labor.

“I recognize that we can make it difficult for business by overregulation, just as well by over-taxation,” Herbert said.

While taxes are necessary to raise revenue, Utah’s tax rates are competitive, if not better, than many states, he added.

Utah has 1,969 laws and regulations on the books, with 48 percent of those affecting businesses, Herbert said. To encourage Utah’s free market, he said, 360 of those regulations are being eliminated.

“If we can lower those down,” Herbert said, “maybe we can have a lower cost product, and that helps all of us.”

The third essential element is a strong labor force and work ethic, which Herbert said Utah students already possess.

“We have great labor,” the governor said. “We have the youngest work force in America. We are young, we are tech-savvy, we are productive, and we come from a background of a great work ethic.”

With this type of work force, he said, Utah is already on the right track, leading America out of the economic downturn. And with continuing improvement in the other areas, Utah is growing in prominence.

“It’s important that we keep this unique and special place that we call Utah,” he said. “Utah is the shining city on the hill and an example of how a good state ought to be governed.”

As the discussion turned to Q&A, the leading concern among the student audience was higher education, with questions including tenure for higher education faculty, support of the voucher system, economic success with the lack of education and state investment in higher education.

In response to these questions, Herbert said that although Utah is not where it needs to be, the state is headed in the right direction.

“We’ve clearly got to figure ways to invest in education,” Herbert said. “We’ve got to make sure you have the skills necessary to move forward.”

Herbert said that with the easing of the economic downturn of the last few years, cuts on higher education in Utah will cease. Herbert promised that the state will add $24 million in support of higher education. The Governor’s Education Excellence Commission has set a 2020 target of 66 percent of Utahns to earn college degrees. An educated and skilled population is essential to economic prosperity, he said.

Asked about the presidential campaign, Herbert said he supports former Massachusetts governor and head of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics Mitt Romney because of his success in creating jobs and his experience as a public and private official.

Herbert encouraged students to get involved and to vote in the upcoming election.

“It’s your future and if you care about your future, you better care about politics,” Herbert said. “It takes a commitment and determination to participate in the political process.”

Students who turned out to hear the governor and eat pizza agreed that they should pay closer attention to the presidential campaign and politics in general.

Sara Driggs, a senior in mechanical aerospace engineering, says she needs to become more aware.

“I haven’t been able to look up all those issues because I spend so much time doing homework,” she said. “It just makes me want to be more aware of what’s going on.”

Freshman and co-chair of the Pizza and Politics event Brayden Smith agreed.

“I think it’s important for students to be involved in politics and know what their leaders believe,” Smith said.


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