National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Vice Chair Utah Gov. Gary Herbert today delivered the association’s third annual State of the States address at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Both governors highlighted innovations happening in the states while acknowledging the new Congress offers an opportunity for the federal government to partner with states to solve some of the nation’s most pressing issues. Gov. Hickenlooper offered several examples of how states are delivering results for the people who live there. Among those examples are education and improving the quality of assessments used to measure students’ progress; the economy and job creation through the development of apprenticeship programs; and health care and its improved delivery and quality. Other state accomplishments include better infrastructure through public-private partnerships, responsible development of shale energy, improved cybersecurity plans and stronger prescription drug abuse policies.
In addition to the vast array of state successes over the past year, Gov. Hickenlooper talked about the need for continued growth, taking advantage of innovations used by businesses, universities and others to bring people better results. Hence the focus of his 2014-2015 NGA Chair’s Initiative, Delivering Results.
“State government today touches people in many ways, with a scope and scale wider and farther-reaching than ever before,” Gov. Hickenlooper said. “My goal is to make state government work in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible, through innovative management and hiring practices, new and emerging technologies, process improvement and appropriate regulation.”
Gov. Hickenlooper showcased how some states already have led the charge to deliver people better results, including by cutting red tape and unnecessary regulations to make it easier for people to start small businesses and providing transparency on state performance in areas such as economic strength, health care and education.
Mentioning a fresh start in Washington, Gov. Hickenlooper referenced not only the newly elected Congress, but also the 12 new governors elected in 2014, welcoming them as they continue to take office over the coming weeks. “Many of our new colleagues are relatively new to politics,” he said. “These new perspectives are of great benefit to their individual states, but also of great benefit to the whole country.”
In his remarks, Gov. Herbert drew on the many state accomplishments to call on the new Congress for a state-federal agenda focused on joint solutions and partnership. Specifically, he called for renewed reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Children’s Health Insurance Program, as well as a long-term, multi-year reauthorization of federal surface transportation laws. In addition, he outlined the need for restoring the Workforce Investment Act’s full 15 percent set-aside for governors and support for municipal bonds to support infrastructure investment.
Gov. Herbert also noted governors’ disappointment in Congress’ failure to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act late last year, which would have allowed states to collect taxes already owed to them from online purchases. “It is time for Congress to act and resolve this issue,” he said. “Already, more than 20 states have taken matters into their own hands and passed laws to collect a portion of the tax on their own.”
Regarding the National Guard, Gov. Herbert voiced governors’ strong support to maintain its strength and capability, commending Congress for acting to avoid cuts to the Air National Guard last year. With proposed cuts potentially on the table again this year, he promised equally strong support. “Governors understand the need to make adjustments to meet financial realities, but this is the time to invest in value, and the National Guard is the best bang for the buck,” he said.
He concluded with two natural resources of importance to governors across the country: the EPA’s rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants and the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). Gov. Herbert called for flexibility as states work to develop plans and implement the rule. He also congratulated Congress for passing WRRDA and for including so many of the guiding principles governors developed related to the bill.
Following the State of the States address, Gov. Hickenlooper and Gov. Herbert, along with NGA Executive Committee members Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss governors’ priorites.