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Gov. Jon Huntsman says he's worried about the state's finances, but he didn't dwell on the situation in his annual State of the State address tonight. Instead, he struck an optimistic tone.
"We are in this together, and together we will find creative solutions to critical problems," Huntsman said.
In spite of tough work ahead, especially with the 2010 budget, the governor reinstated 39 transportation projects that were put on hold in November.
He also emphasized a continued financial commitment to education -- out of necessity, he says. "We can and must do better in embracing our knowledge based economy," he said.
Huntsman stated an ambitious goal of 2012 for significant system reform. He addressed health care professionals, also weary of the current system. "I assure you and the people you serve, we will fix this problem," he said.
The governor also set a 2012 goal for being a renewable energy hub, creating infrastructure to harness wind, sun, natural gas and geothermal energy. "Don't tell me it can't be done," he said.
Legislators share that optimism. "We can do it with consideration to the environment, but we can do it," said House Speaker David Clark, R-Santa Clara.
There is bipartisan support on key issues like education. Sen. Pat Jones, Senate Minority Leader: "He seems to extend it 0-16, where we're trying to prepare our kids for the workforce and take care of teachers; and those things are very important to us," said Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake.
But many in the House and Senate wanted a crack at the budget problems earlier. "He put us a little behind. We've got a lot of decisions to make, and we're hoping we can get with him so we can close the books on '09," said House Majority Leader Kevin Garn, R-Layton.
In tonight's address, Huntsman says he believes that in working together, the state's budget shortfall will be solvable. The Legislature will go back to the work of deciding where to make those cuts tomorrow morning.