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Governor Herbert speaks on how federal shutdown affects Utah

Governor Herbert said about 20 percent of Utah’s close to 40,000 federal employees will likely be furloughed in the coming days due to the government shutdown.

These employees earn close to half a billion dollars in wages every year, according to a reporter at the governor’s monthly address.

Herbert said a frustrating part of the shutdown is its impact on Utah’s national parks.

"I mean, it is kind of silly to some of us that we're even closing down these areas where people just drive through or walk through and enjoy the beauties of nature and somehow, they can't access them anymore," Herbert said.

Herbert mentioned how motorists near Zion National Park cannot pull over to the side of the road to take pictures because these areas are now blocked by the Forest Service.

The governor also spoke about the state’s Women, Infants and Children Program which was in jeopardy after the shutdown. He said the program has enough money to keep going for another two to three weeks.

"We feel pretty comfortable," he said. "We can keep things rolling along, but we need something longer term than that. That's why we're working the USDA to see if, in fact, this goes on longer. We've got money to fill that gap and that hole, and I'm hopeful that the Department of Health will have some announcement on this shortly."

Herbert said most of the money that the state receives from the federal government is still coming, but said the state could still lose $1 billion worth of that money.

He said the is doing well economically, and that the rest of the country should follow Utah’s example. 

"We're kind of the outlier when it comes to most of the states in America, and certainly the country as a whole," he said. "So we're doing something right, and I would suggest Washington, D.C. ought to follow our pattern, and we'd be much better off as a country."

Eric is from Las Vegas, Nevada and studies broadcast journalism at Utah State. In joining the Utah Public Radio family, he has now delved into each of the "Big Three" of journalism: print, television and radio. His dream is to someday live and report the news in Chicago, Illinois (or wherever his career takes him.) In addition to reporting for UPR, Eric is the copy editor at the Utah Statesman and contributes to Aggie TV News.