SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah must focus on funding education, energy development, job creation and preserving its state sovereignty, Gary Herbert said Wednesday in his first State of the State address as an elected governor.Speaking to lawmakers in the House chambers of the state Capitol, Herbert said Utah must invest in the development of fossil fuels or nuclear power, even as alternative energies will become a bigger part of the state’s power supply.”More than 30 states have chosen to include nuclear power in their energy portfolio,” Herbert said. “We must begin substantive debate and deliberation of whether there is a place for nuclear energy in Utah.”Herbert said Utah should not sacrifice its energy independence and that doing so requires developing its natural resources, including oil, natural gas, wind or solar power.”While many other states, and indeed our nation, have compromised and abandoned their energy independence, here in Utah, we will not,” Herbert said.Herbert also praised Utah’s economic strength, especially when compared to other states.Unemployment here is lower than the national average and state revenues have increased by more than $200 million.Still, after three years of cuts, the budget remains tight, he said. Herbert called on lawmakers to make education its number one priority during the 59th general legislative session which began on Monday.An estimated 14,000 new students are projected to soon enter Utah’s schools. Funding that growth will require about $50 million – something Herbert said could be done.”For the first time in three, because of economic expansion, we have the opportunity to fund this growth in our public and charter schools,” Herbert said.The speech is Herbert’s second as governor. He delivered his 2010 speech a few months after being appointed to replace former Gov. Jon Huntsman.Huntsman resigned in 2009 to become the U.S. Ambassador to China.Herbert was elected in November by a wide margin.
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