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As a longstanding critic of cumbersome federal regulations, Gov. Norm Bangerter wants to make sure he's not guilty of the same offense with state nursing home regulations.

"I want you to understand that nursing homes are an important part of my commitment to caring for the sick and elderly," the governor told members of the Utah Health Care Association, during its three-day conference in Salt Lake City. "I recognize your concerns about a state regulation that requires nursing homes to have registered nurses present for 16 hours versus 8 hours, which seems somewhat onerous to you."I think we ought to take a look at that. I complain about the federal government having toomany regulations. I want to make sure I don't do the same thing."

He recommended the organization ask the Health Facilities Board to review and reconsider the regulation through a public-hearing process so it can be resolved.

Bangerter said the Medicaid budget for FY89-90 concerns him because "new federal requirements for federal dollars has exacerbated already inadequate Medicaid funds."

New federal standards have created tighter preadmission screening for mentally retarded and mentally ill patients. Although nursing salaries were recently increased and the state gave providers a 3.1 percent cost of living increase, it also, for the first time, established an income requirement for Medicaid patients. The increased regulations are making it harder for the programs to function.

"I'm a little tired of the federal government mandating what the state must do and I know you are." He said individual states should be able to decide what programs they need and how they should be run and the federal government should provide support.

Despite the upcoming vote on tax initiatives the governor said the state "cannot afford," he said he is optimistic about Utah's future.

"Unemployment's down to 4.7 percent - the lowest since 1979. Utah's creating new jobs - about 15,000 a year. We need about 15,000-20,000. And tax revenues are up. I am confident we will be able to balance the budget at the end of the year and I believe we'll have a surplus."