Utah’s governor is happy there’s a deal on the government shutdown, but the state is bracing for long-term problems

Posted at 5:21 PM, Jan 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 21:51:01-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Governor Gary Herbert told FOX 13 he is happy a deal has been reached to re-open the federal government.

"I think that’s good news for the federal workers for sure but beyond that for people who were receiving services that were cut short, and uncertain about what was going to happen and so it's good news for all of us," he said. "Good on the Congress for finding a compromise. I wish they could have found it four weeks earlier."

In brief remarks on Friday, the governor told FOX 13 he "hoped they'd learned something" back in Washington. Still, he worried that the government could close again in another budget battle.

"Clearly, if they don’t get their act together in Washington DC we will feel some of that negativity that comes from another government shutdown," he said.

The state has expended some funding to keep national parks open to tourists and ensure social services like food stamps and unemployment benefits got funded.

Vicki Varela, the director of tourism for Utah, was relieved to hear a deal had been reached. The state spent thousands for skeletal staffing to keep national parks open (nonprofit groups also stepped in).

"Priority was protect the visitor experience, protect these spectacular natural resources, these pristine vistas that will be here long after these elected officials, and protect the local economy," she said.

Communities like Moab and Springdale have reported some impact as a result of the shutdown. Fortunately, Varela said, it wasn't as bad as it could have been because it was the slow time of year for visitation. President's Day marks the start of the busy season for national parks in Utah and Varela said they were starting to make long term plans in the event of another shutdown.

"We’re concerned this could be the culture of the way our government could be run for a period of time. We’re doing constant contingency planning," she said.