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Utah Governor emotionally recalls his time in office

File photo: Gov. Gary Herbert speaks at a KSL editorial board meeting. (Photo credit: David Noriega)

Salt Lake City — In a tender and unexpected twist to a Governor’s Budget Recommendation meeting, Governor Gary Herbert — Utah’s 17th governor – became emotional when talking about the state he’s served for so long.

At a combined KSL/Deseret News Editorial Board meeting, the governor described his priorities for the 2020 budget. And he relished in the accomplishment of dramatically increasing education funding.

He talked about the $4.9 billion dollar budget that he is recommending for K-12 education this year, as well as an additional $1.6 billion for higher education; nearly doubling education funding in his 10 years as governor.

When asked about his worries for the state and what keeps him up at night, the governor recalled a story of an unenthusiastic California transplant who transferred to Utah for work. At first, he lamented the lack of beaches and religious diversity. Two years later the transplant said, “you couldn’t pay me enough money to go back to California.”

As the governor told this story to the editorial board, he became emotional but said jokingly, “I cry at shopping center openings.”

That drew a hearty laugh from the room. Then Herbert talked about being a sixth-generation Utahn and how his ancestors crossed the plain looking for a better life.

“They came and sacrificed a lot to in a god-forsaken place that nobody wanted,” said Herbert. “Brigham Young said, ‘This is the right place. Drive on.,’ mainly because they wanted isolation and a place to worship, but he did say we’ll make the desert blossom as a rose.”

“It rings true to me that the first governor said, ‘This is the right place’ and the 17th governor (Herbert) is saying it’s still the right place.”