Beginning with remarks about a recent trip to Europe to bolster Utah’s international trade mission, Governor Gary Herbert covered a range of reporters’ questions during his monthly press conference that included economic development surrounding Utah’s national parks that would accommodate non-English speaking visitors, a public lands policy proposal that state funds be used to defend a county commissioner convicted of trespass during a non-violent protest, and the status of a Supreme Court ruling (expected this month) that could change the effort to provide universal healthcare via the Affordable Care Act.
Herbert spent several days at the Paris Air Show and mentioned that 21,000 jobs in the state are found within aerospace industries, not including several thousand employed at Hill Air Force Base.
The governor observed that the most discussed aircraft at the show, the Airbus 380 and 350, and the Boeing Dreamliner are built with composite materials manufactured in the Beehive State – supporting 6,000 local jobs. Herbert noted that a significant part of the state’s exemplary unemployment rate comes from international trade with the European Union, noting that 87% of foreign direct-investment in the state comes from the EU.
Part of the trade mission was to place Utah on the radar of “site planners” who might consider a US location for international operations. “We’ve grown our efforts at international business better than any state in America,” Herbert said. “[Utah’s economic success] is mutually beneficial to those countries that we visited… 95 percent of the customers for our businesses here in Utah lie outside the borders of America. International business pays great dividends to the state.”
Herbert was also asked about his thoughts on the controversial prison relocation that has been the work of a re-location task force over the past year.
Deferring to the task force that has convened for the purpose of fact-finding, public comment, and site investigation, the Governor stated that the primary reason for moving the prison should not be driven by the economic benefit of the development of the site. The Governor considers the economic development potential of the relocation as “gravy” on top of the basic reason for moving the prison.
Has the task force looked at the potential of developing the existing site thoroughly enough? “If they haven’t, they should,” Herbert said, while acknowledging the logistical challenges for doing so at its existing location in Draper.
On the topic of using $100,000 of state mineral lease revenues to pay for the defense and appeal of San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman’s conviction of misdemeanor trespass in Recapture Canyon, Herbert stated that he understood the frustrations surrounding the RS2477 roads closure decisions covering eight years.
“That’s a long time,” Herbert told reporters. “I think that there needs to be a ‘state connection’ and a ‘state purpose,’ if we’re using state monies,” and implied that these factors already existed. He felt that the commission should simply base their decision(s) on the law. When reminded that Lyman’s situation has already been through the judicial process, the governor said, “If there’s a state purpose then the state has a right to weigh-in on it.”
The link to the entire press conference can be found here.