Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for holding this hearing on Governor Leavitt's nomination.
As my colleagues here on the Committee know, I have more than a passing interest in the people who run our Government. It seems like we can never find the right people to manage all of the Departments and Agencies in the federal government, which inevitably leads to problems down the road. The process is even more difficult when trying to find people to nominate for controversial appointments like federal judgeships or high-profile cabinet officers.
For a Republican, probably the most difficult job in the federal government is the Administrator of EPA. No matter what you do - it is not good enough and is always attacked by environmental groups. Christy Todd Whitman did the best she could, but I am sure she was glad to leave the battle.
I am grateful that President Bush has asked Mike to serve and that he is willing to accept and use his extraordinary management and interpersonal skills to serve his country. I appreciate his willingness to serve and want to thank his wife Jacalyn and five children for the sacrifice they are willing to make for him to serve.
I first met Mike while we were both Governors and were active together in the Republican Governors and National Governors Associations. Mike served as NGA Vice-Chairman under then-Governor Tom Carper, NGA Chairman, RGA Vice-Chairman while I was Chairman and as RGA Chairman.
He has established a very strong reputation as a straight-shooting consensus builder with the proven ability to work on a bipartisan basis. On many issues, Mike was willing to take on tough issues and worked with both Republican and Democrat Governors to form consensus and move the ball down the field. When the states were confronted with losing revenue from internet sales, he took up the cause. No one thought that we could do it, but under Mike's leadership, we now have over 25 states participating in a streamlined sales tax system that provides states with a roadmap to create simplified state sales tax collection programs.
During his three terms as Governor, Mike has demonstrated an outstanding ability to efficiently and effectively manage the State of Utah's provision of public goods and services. Time after time, Governor Leavitt has set an agenda in Utah, and each time he has rolled up his sleeves, pulled together broad coalitions, reached consensus and gotten results.
Under Mike's watch, Utah has hosted the Winter Olympics, reduced crime, decreased reliance on welfare, reduced unemployment, and improved education funding and performance - all while the state's sales, income, and property taxes have been reduced. In fact, During Mike's tenure as Governor, Utah has been named the best-managed state five times. No wonder he was recently named "Public Official of the Year" by Governing magazine.
I cannot think of anyone who is better suited to lead the EPA. Governor Leavitt has continuously demonstrated the tremendous interpersonal skills and management experience necessary to run an agency with 18,000 people, 10 Regional Offices and half-a-dozen labs. He cares deeply about the environment and will pull people together to get things done.
Mike's proven ability to facilitate the creation of positive solutions to multiple problems and interests is exactly what is needed at the EPA's top post. He has established an impressive track record of producing results; one that I believe will continue should he be confirmed as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.