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Herbert calls debt deal a first step, but big issues remain

Published October 18, 2013 8:31 am

Politics • Officials note how southern Utah food banks were flooded during parks shutdown.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that he's not satisfied Congress found a short-term deal to reopen the federal government, but called the move a "step in the right direction."

"It's nice to have them come together on something, even if it's temporary. It's just postponing, I think, the debate for three months," Herbert said Thursday. "I hope in those three months we can have this committee come together in a bipartisan way and find a long-term solution to the issues out there, which are real."

Herbert said the national debt and deficit remain unsustainable and need to be addressed. "I'm optimistic they'll get some long-term solutions."

The Republican governor said Utah's divided six-member federal delegation — only GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch and Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson voted for the budget deal — reflects a divided America. He urged Congress to do better.

"What we're doing back in Washington," Herbert said, "is not acceptable for either side of the aisle." The comments came while the governor and his staff were helping at the Utah Food Bank, part of an annual service project. Herbert acknowledged that the shutdown put a burden on those who rely on such operations.

Ginette Bott, development director for the Utah Food Bank, said the most significant impact came near Utah's national parks. "The influx we did see was in southern Utah, around the Zion National Park area," Bott said. "Our pantry in Hurricane, for example, immediately almost saw an influx."

Herbert also said he was closer to making a decision on whether Utah will accept federal money to expand Medicaid coverage to those making up to 138 percent of the U.S. poverty rate — about $32,400 for a family of four or $15,856 a year for one person.

"I'm understanding more clearly the ramifications if we do this and I'm also understanding the ramifications if we don't do this," he said. "I think we're going to come up with some good proposals."