I want to extend a special thank you to Lyall Swim and The Sutherland Institute for hosting a blogger's breakfast this week. It's a rare thing indeed to get access to well-known pundits and higher-up elected officials and the conversation with Lt. Gov. Herbert was very enlightening. Here's what I took away from the dialog:
- The Lt. Gov. is more than just a Secretary of State fill-in. He actively assists the Governor carry out his agenda as well as serves a varied number of duties on several commissions.
- The Governor's main focus is to keep Utah economically competitive on an international basis. It's not enough to beat Nevada or Colorado; we're also going head-to-head with China and India.
- A large chunk of education spending is capital expenses like land and buildings. The push for more year-round schooling is designed to better leverage those huge investments we've made on grounds and equipment.
- Transportation policy will still focus on increasing capacity instead of reducing demand. Lt. Gov. Herbert believes that the demand problem will work itself out as more businesses and offices locate outside of downtown Salt Lake City. I still believe we need to educate more businesses on the benefits of telecommuting and more residents on the real costs of commuting. As an interesting side note, it sounds like telecommuting hasn't worked out very well for most state employees and has been a drag on productivity.
- Utah's emergency preparedness program, Be Ready Utah, is designed to put preparedness in the hands of the individuals rather than attempt a top-down approach. I really like the idea, especially as it's more of a "neighbor helping neighbor" approach rather than the "sit and wait for help" one that crippled New Orleans.
I know we could have collectively kept Gary there all day long asking various questions and I'm glad he took an hour out of his busy schedule to sit down with us to talk turkey. I'm looking forward to the other blogger breakfasts that Sutherland will be hosting and again, I'm grateful that they're doing this.