Gov. Herbert addresses government shutdown

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's governor made no bones about it, he blames President Obama for the stalemate in Washington, though he's more reluctant to endorse the strategy of Utah's junior senator, Mike Lee, who has led Senate efforts to defund Obamacare.

"There's a lack of leadership in Washington D.C.," said Gov. Gary Herbert, "and I put the blame at the president's feet for the lack of leadership."

The governor estimated Utah would lose about 20 percent of federal money over the course of the shutout, both in terms of lost wages for federal workers and in money that flows from D.C. into the state government budget.

Utah's budget for fiscal year 2014 gets 27 percent of its revenue from the federal government, according to the governor's office of planning and budget, and that's about $3.5 billion a year.

Past government shutdowns have ended with Congress retroactively providing the wages and program funding that was withheld.

Still, Herbert said Washington can learn from Utah's efficiency, touting the fact that Utah has fewer employees in 2013 than it did in 2001.

Depending on how you count, the same is true for the federal government.

A Washington Post analysis of Census figures and numbers from the federal Office of Management and Budget shows that the current administration employs fewer Americans as a percentage of population than at any time since the Eisenhower administration.

While critical of the President, Herbert did not heap praise on Senator Mike Lee, who has led much of the charge against the Affordable Care Act.

"It doesn't seem to be working so far," Herbert said.

Utah's largest business organization agrees with that sentiment.

"The business community, particularly here in Utah, we like to think of ourselves as the productive middle in any political fight," said Marty Carpenter, spokesman for the Salt Lake Chamber.

Carpenter said the Chamber has not taken a position on the Affordable Care Act, saying it achieves some important goals but fails to address the cost of healthcare.

Carpenter said the Chamber decided after the presidential election that Obamacare would take effect.

"We've been working pretty intently over the last 9, 10 months ever since the last election, realizing the Affordable Care Act is going to go into effect and helping our businesses better understand it," Carpenter said.