SALT LAKE CITY -- Gov. Gary Herbert said he will probably exercise his veto power this year, but he may take his time in doing so.
State lawmakers passed a record number of bills this session, which ended at midnight Thursday. Herbert said he and his staff will take a close look at every bill and weigh possible unintended consequences of each and then look to see if the measure is good policy. He said it's probable he will veto some bills. He only vetoed two bills last year, one dealing with sex education.
He credits his light use of the veto pen to getting engaged in the process early.
"One of the things we do is, we don't wait until the last minute to engage in the process. It's a lot better to steer legislation. We've had great success working in a more collaborative style," he said.
One candidate for a veto this year is HB 76, which would amend the state law on concealed carry weapons. The governor has staunchly maintained he thinks the state's firearms laws are adequate and has hinted at a veto, but has never definitely said yes or no on the matter.
Herbert met with HB 76 sponsor Rep. John Mathias, R-Vernal, early in the process but the legislation made it through the House and Senate and landed on the governor's desk.
The former Utah County commissioner stressed on Thursday night he has not changed his position on the state's existing gun laws, but said it is better to be thoughtful and methodical in the review process.
In a brief meeting with the Standard-Examiner, the governor also addressed a possible state prison relocation plan. Lawmakers voted to continue review of a possible relocation through the Prison Relocation and Development Authority, which will be charged with generating a request for proposal as part of the review process.
Herbert promised the issue will be thoroughly studied and analyzed before any decision is made.
The Republican governor praised lawmakers and their efforts to approve a balanced budget this session. He was especially pleased to see an increase in funding for education and money toward his science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiative.
Pressed on whether he would ever consider raising taxes to provide more funding for education, Herbert said experience with raising taxes, most recently in California and Illinois, has shown the tax increases become a burden on the economy.
"That's not a good way to pay the bills. A better way is to have a growing and steady economy," the governor said.