Governor delivers NGA State of the States Address

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Gov. Gary R. Herbert visited Washington, D.C. this week to deliver the National Governors Association (NGA) State of the States address and discuss his NGA Chair’s initiative with new House leadership.

The governor’s initiative, “Finding Solutions, Improving Lives,” highlights state-based solutions to common problems so states can share best practices and showcase their breakthroughs. During his address Thursday, the governor cited examples of innovative state solutions.

“States are good role models or ‘laboratories of democracy,’” Gov. Herbert said. “In many ways, we serve as pilot programs for other states, and the country at large, to learn valuable lessons and develop effective policies.”

In 2015, Utah showed the nation that the rights of religious and LGBT communities need not come at the expense of the other when it passed a comprehensive LGBT non-discrimination and religious liberty law.

Gov. Herbert also mentioned the successes of Gov. Phil Bryant in Mississippi and his innovative effort to reform the state’s criminal justice system. Rather than just warehousing inmates, Mississippi is focusing its prison system on those who have committed violent crimes. At the same time, the state is strengthening treatment programs to help rehabilitate nonviolent offenders who committed substance abuse offenses.

Utah has engaged in a similar effort this past year with an increased focus on mental health and substance abuse issues and has already begun to see results with reduced recidivism and fewer inmates, despite the dramatic increase in the state’s population.

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Gov. Herbert talks with Speaker Paul Ryan, 1/6/2016

Ahead of his meeting Wednesday with House leadership, the governor said he is concerned that many Americans seem to share an expectation that Washington, D.C. will “take care of our problems from cradle to grave.”

“Congressional delegations need to say, ‘Look to the states,’ or even better, look locally,” Gov. Herbert said. “Local solutions are better, more effective and less expensive.”

“States can make our own programs if we see a need,” he continued. “We don’t need Washington, D.C. to keep imposing programs Utahns don’t want and shouldn’t have to pay for—that’s dysfunctional.”

Watch the full NGA State of the States address below.