January 29, 2014 – Governor Herbert delivered the State of the State address celebrating Utah’s successes, outlining challenges, and explaining his plan for solutions. Public lands’ issues were frequently a part of the equation.
Among them, Utah’s unique challenge to adequately fund education for our growing student population. The Governor mentioned that nearly 70% of Utah’s land is controlled by the federal government, generating no property taxes to help pay for the growth.
Quoting James Madison, he emphasized that Utah needs to assert its rightful role as a sovereign state.
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite.”
The Governor sees management of public lands as an area where Utah has to find its own solutions to its issues without being hindered by federal overreach. He defined state sovereignty as representation of the will of the people “while respecting the democratic and judicial processes.”
More effective management of our public lands is also critical to our state. At no time was this more evident than during the federal government shutdown. Our national parks were closed, tourists were turned away and the livelihoods of Utah business owners were put in peril. Yet we were told by many in Washington there was nothing we could do to solve this problem.
We do a lot of things well in Utah, but “doing nothing” is not one of them. I was determined to open the parks, and I told Interior Secretary Sally Jewel we simply had to find a way–and that’s exactly what we did. It took a little common sense and a lot of hard work. It took people of good will, including Representative Brad Dee, and legislators on both sides of the aisle working together to find the solution.
The Governor stressed his efforts in putting Utah in the best position to optimize its use of public lands, including signing H.B. 148 and working with Congressman Rob Bishop on his Public Lands Initiative. These initiative presents the state with “a unique opportunity to resolve” the issue of public lands transfer “by identifying public lands for multiple-use such as energy development, farming and ranching, and protecting” the state’s “iconic vistas and venues.”