Utah Gov. Gary Herbert sworn in to 2-year term

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert was sworn into office for another two years on Monday, pledging to run a limited government that will fight against any perceived federal intrusion to state sovereignty It was the second inauguration for Herbert since August 2009, when then-Gov. Jon Huntsman resigned to become the U.S. ambassador to China shortly after winning re-election by the largest margin in state history. This time, Herbert has a mandate of his own. A recent change in state law meant Herbert had to face a special election in 2010 to fill out the remainder of Huntsman’s term. He defeated Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon with 64 percent of the vote. In front of hundreds at a Capitol inauguration ceremony that was broadcast on live television, Herbert laid out his vision for the state during a time of economic uncertainty. “As a state government, Utah must do no less than what is expected of its people and its families. Let us be disciplined, let us be innovative, let us be industrious and let us live within our means,” Herbert said. State law requires that Utah’s budget be balanced. Herbert has already proposed a balanced budget that doesn’t include any tax increases, although some lawmakers are annoyed he wants self-employed people to file taxes on a quarterly basis. That budget proposal will serve as a blueprint for negotiations with Republican lawmakers who ultimately set the budget when the Legislature convenes Jan. 24. Herbert – who agreed to raise the tobacco tax last year – said he would continue to “make government more responsive, more efficient and more taxpayer friendly,” although he isn’t proposing any tax cuts. Herbert’s speech was as much about running for re-election in 2012 as it was setting a tone for this year. Utah’s unique electoral process consisting of a state convention makes it possible for a sitting governor with high approval ratings to not make it onto the ballot if party insiders are unpleased. That’s what happened to former GOP Gov. Olene Walker, who failed to make into the Republican primary when Huntsman and Herbert were first elected in 2004. U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett also failed to make it onto the GOP primary ballot last year. To that end, Herbert reiterated talking points that play well to the highly conservative delegates who pick the party’s nominees. Chief among them, he said he would fight against an overreaching federal government. In Utah, that frequently means fighting against federal management of public lands and Democratic President Barack Obama’s health care law. Herbert contends states are better suited to tackle health care and has praised Utah’s health exchange, where worker’s can use their employer’s money to shop for health insurance. “We will advocate states’ rights and we will vigorously resist the increasing burden of federal intrusion into our lives,” Herbert said. “Utah has demonstrated the innovation, the fiscal restraint and the problem-solving skills that can play an important role in providing solutions to the problems that confront America.”

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