As the 16th Governor of the State of Utah, serving from 2005 until 2009, Jon Huntsman Jr. led Utah to economic success despite a national economy in recession.
When economic times got tough and the country hit the Great Recession, Governor Huntsman maintained his commitment to fiscal responsibility. Rather than raising taxes or using accounting gimmicks, he cut waste and made the government more efficient. As a result, Utah protected its AAA bond rating and earned national accolades for debt management. Under Governor Huntsman’s leadership, Utah ranked number one in the nation in job creation and was recognized as the best-managed state by the Pew Center.
Economic Plan and Tax Reform
Shortly after becoming governor in 2005, Governor Huntsman began implementing his 10-point plan for jumpstarting Utah’s economy, including historic tax reform. He simplified the tax structure, reduced the tax on food and cut taxes by more than $400 million, the largest tax cut in the state’s history.
In 2008, Governor Huntsman spearheaded and passed comprehensive, market-based healthcare reform. While other states relied on government control and individual mandates, he delivered reforms that gave consumers the freedom to choose their own coverage in a competitive marketplace. Governor Huntsman also signed landmark legislation to protect the sanctity of unborn life.
Under Governor Huntsman’s leadership, Utah created the official state brand Life Elevated. He said at the time, “the new slogan embodies the heart and soul of our state. It captures the essence of life in America’s greatest state.” Today, the state is a hotbed for tourists from around the world as they come to enjoy the Greatest Snow on Earth, and Utah’s unsurpassed natural beauty.
Governor Huntsman knows transportation is the lifeblood of Utah’s economy. To ensure the flow of commerce through our state, he created the Transportation Investment Fund. Without it, Utah would have been unable to afford recent and ongoing expansions to I-15 in Utah County, the Mountain View Corridor and Legacy North, as well as targeted projects on I-15 and many others across the state. Legacy Highway was opened by Governor Huntsman in 2008, bringing much-needed congestion relief to commuters in Davis and Weber counties. As governor, he will prioritize transportation and transit investment to ensure the nation’s fastest-growing state doesn’t have its the nation’s slowest moving traffic.
Utah in the World Marketplace
In 2006, Governor Huntsman recognized the tremendous opportunities for Utah businesses to expand into profitable global markets. He led the creation of the World Trade Center Utah and its membership in the World Trade Center Association (WTCA) to promote exports and give Utah a platform on a global stage. Today, Utah’s World Trade Center continues to thrive and bring business to the state. It recently received the largest increase in the country to our State Trade Expansion Program grant allocation, with $500,000 in grant funding coming to WTC Utah to help Utah small businesses enter and expand into dynamic global markets. Today, more than 3,500 Utah companies export and those exports support more than 95,000 Utah jobs.
Utah’s Dual Language Immersion Program
To prepare Utah students to compete in the global economy, Governor Huntsman created Utah’s dual language immersion program in 2008. Younger students take classes in a foreign language (Mandarin Chinese, French, Spanish, Portuguese or German) for half a day, while older students can take language classes that earn concurrent college credit at universities throughout Utah. Today, more than 160 schools in Utah participate in the program. The results show dual-language students perform better on standardized tests.
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