Area high school students studying criminal justice spent an hour with Gov. Gary Herbert’s chief of staff at the Community Learning Center on Tuesday.
Derek Miller, the governor’s top staff member who will soon take over as president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, responded to an invitation from a student to speak at the CLC’s criminal justice concurrent education class.
Students in the class come to the CLC from all of Tooele Valley’s high schools and simultaneously receive credit from Salt Lake Community College. They are preparing for futures in law enforcement, corrections, homeland security, and in the court system, according to Ellen Smith, criminal justice instructor for TCSD.
In his role as chief of staff, Miller manages the governor’s office, which includes Ron Gordon, the governor’s criminal justice policy advisor and executive director of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice
“A student in our program invited Mr. Miller to come to our class and speak about the governor’s role in a new law about cell phones and driving,” Smith said. “However, the student forgot to ask about the legislation in today’s class.”
Students were more interested in asking Miller, who has served as Herbert’s chief of staff since December 2010, about integrity in government — on the heels of the resignation of John Swallow, Utah’s former attorney general and chief law enforcement officer of the state.
“In my career, I have seen plenty of opportunity for people to choose to show a lack of integrity,” Miller said. “But if you don’t have integrity in this line of work, you don’t have anything.”
Students also asked Miller about the governor’s plan for Medicaid reform and why he wants to leave the governor’s office.
The governor’s plan to provide health insurance for people who fall in the gap between Medicaid and private insurance is to use federal dollars that would go to reforming Medicaid to cover these individuals and use it to purchase private insurance for the people in the gap, according to Miller.
“The governor’s proposal supports the private market,” Miller said. “It is part of self-determination, one of the governor’s four cornerstones — Utah solutions for Utah problems.”
The other cornerstones of Herbert’s administration include education, jobs, and energy development, he said.
Miller also touted Utah’s growing economy while speaking at the CLC.
Miller worked in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development before he became the governor’s chief of staff.
From his time working in GOED and as the governor’s chief of staff, Miller has developed a list of four things that he said make Utah the state with the second-most fastest-growing economy. Number one is North Dakota with its current energy boom.
Miller’s list includes a fiscally prudent government, a low tax rate, regulatory reform that reduces unnecessary burdens on commerce, and a predictable and stable economy.
Miller said he is leaving the governor’s office because he is “tired.”
“It’s a chance to further the state’s economic growth and return to economic development work which I enjoy,” he said.
As president and CEO of WTC Utah, Miller will be involved in helping Utah companies develop global markets, he said.
“I did not seek out this new opportunity,” he said. “In my professional career, I have never had to apply for a job; people have sought me out because of my experience and record. It is not who you know as much as what you know and what you can do that counts.”