Michael Okerland Leavitt (Mike Leavitt) (1951- ), of Utah, was appointed December 13, 2004, by President George W. Bush to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. His nomination was sent to the Senate January 4, 2005, and he was confirmed January 26, 2005. He is also a trustee of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Leavitt served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency since his Senate confirmation October 28, 2003. Leavitt was named by President Bush on August 11, 2003, to succeed Christine Todd Whitman as Agency head.
- Michael O. Leavitt, the 14th governor of Utah, has led the state through an era of change and unparalleled prosperity. Elected in 1992, reelected in 1996 with the largest vote total in state history and the second governor in Utah history to be reelected to a third term, Leavitt has carried out a vision of improvement and innovation while positioning Utah for success in a new millennium.
- Under Leavitt, Utah has been named the "best-managed state" in America, the "best place to locate a business" and host of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Sales, income and property taxes have all been reduced.
- Crime is down and student achievement is up. Open spaces are being preserved. Air pollution is diminishing. Highways and public transportation are helping people to move around efficiently. Welfare reliance is shrinking.
- Governor Leavitt's leadership extends beyond the state's borders as well. He is past chairman of the National Governors Association and a leading national voice on issues such as welfare reform, federal-state relations, e-commerce and balanced environmental management.
- Born on February 11, 1951, in Cedar City, Utah, Leavitt graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and business from Southern Utah University and married Jacalyn Smith. The governor and first lady are the parents of five children.
- After earning his degree, Leavitt joined the Leavitt Group, a regional insurance firm. He eventually became president and chief executive officer of the company, establishing it as one of the top insurance brokers in America. He also served as an outside director of two large public corporations and was a member of the Utah State Board of Regents, overseeing the state's nine colleges and universities.
- Leavitt was successful in his first bid for public office, winning the governorship with 42% of the vote in a three-way race in 1992. He won reelection in 1996 with a record 74% of the popular vote. He is only the second governor in Utah history to be reelected to a third term.
- At his first inauguration, Leavitt pledged to take the state to a "whole new level of performance." In the course of two terms, his vision of performance has become reality.
- The average elementary class size in Utah is down by three students, while teacher salaries are up - all part of a 56% increase in overall spending for education in the Leavitt years. Leavitt education initiatives include the state's first charter schools, stricter graduation requirements and measures to guarantee reading proficiency, improve the education environment and bring technology to every classroom.
- One in every four jobs that now exist in Utah was created on the Leavitt watch. Utah's traditional dependence on the defense industry has given way to diversification and an influx of high-tech industries.
- Household incomes are rising and unemployment is low.
- Welfare reliance has fallen by more than half. More than 30,000 Utahns who previously had no health care insurance now have it as a result of Leavitt's Healthprint program launched in 1994.
- Highways in Utah are being rebuilt and repaired at an unprecedented rate, including the largest design-build highway project in American history, a $1.6 billion total reconstruction of Interstate 15 through Salt Lake County.
- Leavitt is a founder of Western Governors University and creator of the Enlibra environmental management philosophy that has been adopted by the National Governors Association.
- He negotiated the school trust lands swap with the federal government that secured millions of dollars for Utah school children; and he designed the "digital state" initiative that will deliver high-speed Internet access statewide and guarantee Utah's place in the global economy.
According to an August 12, 2003 Associated Press news article:
- "For the second time in his term, President Bush chose for his environment chief a GOP governor who has cultivated an image as a moderate on environmental issues.
- "By picking Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt to succeed Christie Whitman as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Bush is tapping someone who might strengthen the president's standing with green-minded voters.
- "But some environmentalists say there is a difference between Leavitt and Whitman, who left the New Jersey governorship in 2001 to run the EPA.
- "'Like Christie Whitman, Governor Leavitt started out with a reputation as a moderate, but unlike her, he has taken a hard right turn on the environment,' said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, an advocacy group.
- "Larry Young, executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said Leavitt's record on public lands, wetlands conservation and sprawl issues was unimpressive."
- "Promising to improve the nation's air quality, Leavitt said he would listen to all sides. 'There is no progress polarizing at the extremes but great progress when we collaborate in the middle,' Leavitt said. 'I'll leave it a better place than I found it. ... I'll give it my all.'
- "Bush said Leavitt, a former chairman of the National Governors Association, has 'a strong environmental record, a strong desire to improve what has taken place in the last three decades,' and also 'understands the importance of clear standards in environmental policy.'"
- "Bush's choice to succeed Whitman was met with immediate praise from industry groups and congressional Republicans, while environmental groups and Senate Democrats were opposed or at least skeptical."
- "Leavitt co-chaired the Western Regional Air Partnership of states, tribes, environmentalists and industry to reduce brown haze over the Grand Canyon, and he fought plans to build a temporary storage facility for high-level nuclear waste on an Indian reservation in western Utah.
- "He cut several environmental deals with the Bush administration, most recently settling a long-standing dispute over ownership of roads across federal land. He negotiated exchanges of state and federal land, some of them questioned by Interior Department auditors.
- "He advocated a major highway extension through wetlands and wildlife habitat near the Great Salt Lake, only to have the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals halt the project when it said the Army Corps of Engineers didn't pay enough attention to wildlife needs or look at alternatives like mass transit."
- Latest News Items on Governor Leavitt. Includes EPA nomination.
- Daily Newsletter on Governor Leavitt.
- Mike Carter, Utah Govinor, Mike Leviett in Political Minefield, The Associated Press, [circa Aug. 3rd 1998].
- Katharine Q. Seelye, Bush Nominates Utah Governor to Lead E.P.A., The New York Times, August 11, 2003. (Posted 8/12/03.)
- Ceci Connelly, "Core of Leavitt's Team Dates To His Days as Utah Governor," Washington Post, July 1, 2005.