Leadership

Governors to Washington: End the Gridlock

By / Jan 17, 2014 NGA Chair Gov. Mary Fallin (R-OK), discussing her America Works initiative. (via the NGA's Facebook page)

The National Governors Association’s executive committee met with President Obama this week, and the group has a message for lawmakers in Washington: Partisan gridlock is preventing governors from doing more to help their states.

Just because the work of federal government has been at a relative standstill in recent years doesn’t mean that the same thing is happening at the state level.

That’s a point stressed by the National Governors Association, which represents state governments’ chief executives from both parties. But when the association’s members met earlier this week in Washington, they made a point to emphasize that it would certainly be nice if the political gridlock at the federal level eased. More details:

We stand here today with essentially the same to-do list sitting before our Congress.

A year later, still no change: According to NGA Chair Gov. Mary Fallin (R-OK), the lack of progress in Washington is thwarting states’ efforts to implement various federal mandates, such as the Department of Education’s No Child Left Behind regulations, and makes it hard to fund everything from the National Guard to Workforce Investment Act programs. “We stand here today with essentially the same to-do list sitting before our Congress,” Fallin said in her State of the States Address, according to The New York Times. Vice Chair Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) emphasized the point in his speech: “More than 26 percent of most state budgets come from the federal government,” he said. “The politics of fiscal responsibility can no longer be centered around crisis and deadlines.”

What the states are doing: The association is working to do what it can without federal help. Fallon noted that state governments, as well as the NGA, are focusing on job growth and educational standards—pointing to her NGA Chair initiative, America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs. “This initiative is about helping American workers find and keep good paying jobs,” she said. “To do that, we are working to make significant improvements to our education systems and workforce training programs to align them with the needs of business and labor markets to benefit our citizens and our economies.”

Working with the president: On Tuesday, the association’s executive committee—three Democrats and three Republicans—met with President Obama, focusing on issues of federal-state collaboration. “Governors do have good ideas, and we want a seat at the table to be able to help solve our nation’s problems, whether it’s Medicaid, whether it’s transportation and infrastructure issues,” Fallin said of the meeting, according to NewsOK. The White House appeared receptive. “The president has said that he will use his executive authority—both his pen and his phone—to act on behalf of the American people, and he pledged to work closely with governors of both parties on our agenda for 2014,” the White House said in a statement.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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