Gov. focuses on education in State of State

Utah Governor Gary Herbert delivers the State of the State speech to the Utah State Legislature on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/The Deseret News, Tom Smart, Pool)

Education and economic development are Gov. Gary Herbert’s main priorities for the state this year.

Herbert shared his vision for Utah during his annual State of the State address Wednesday evening at the state Capitol.

<div class=”p402_hide”>In his prepared remarks, the governor said the state is strong and continuing to recover from the economic downturn.</div>

“I have never been more optimistic about Utah’s future,” he said.

He noted that Utah’s unemployment rate is at 5.2 percent, well below the national rate of 7.8 percent.

The key focus of his speech was education, something he called the biggest and most important investment Utah makes each year.

It’s also vital to building a strong economy, Herbert said.

The governor called on lawmakers to support his goal for 66 percent of the state’s adult population to have at least a one-year degree by 2020.

The state is at 43 percent right now.

Utah can afford to invest more in education than other states still struggling to recover, he said.

The state should also continue focusing on economic recovery and ensure the state business friendly, he said.

Herbert asked lawmakers to fund the relocation of the state prison to open up land for tech companies.

The Utah State Prison occupies 700 acres in Draper along Interstate-15, a location where companies such as eBay and Microsoft have set up operations.

Moving the prison and freeing up land will help ensure that area prospers as a hub for technology companies looking to set up shop and bring jobs to the state, he said.

State officials have been weighing relocation for several years, and a 2005 study estimated it would cost more than $400 million to move the prison.

Herbert also touted his vision for outdoor recreation he recently released and challenged state agencies to make their operations more efficient.

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