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NGA Policy Positions
Principles for State-Federal Relations

Governors believe that commerce is the engine of economic development and job creation.  Many cylinders power this complex engine, including, but not limited to, capital access, trade and investment, taxation and regulation, research and development and innovation, and collaborations between private firms, academic institutions, federal research laboratories, and the public sector.

Our nation’s multi-modal transportation and related-infrastructure systems support and enhance the economic growth of states and the nation.  Infrastructure provides the skeletal structure that connects the nation.  Together, transportation and infrastructure help sustain quality of life and enable the flow of interstate and international commerce that underpins the United States’ competitive position in the global economy.

Governors support the preservation of public financing - notably tax-exempt financing - because it is the primary method to raise capital for a wide range of public projects.    By lending money through the purchase of state and locally issued bonds, investors help provide market validation for those projects.

America’s elementary and secondary education system has evolved over the decades with changing economic pressures, intense globalization, and rising expectations for all students. Despite these changes, however, too many of our nation’s students are unprepared for college or a career.

Governors recognize the importance of ensuring that children have access to meals of high nutritional value. Yet, far too many of America’s children don’t have reliable access to the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process.

For Americans to stay competitive in the global economy, it will take bold transformation and modernization of our nation’s education and workforce systems and a stronger federal-state partnership.   Every member of the workforce must be given the opportunity to realize their full potential over the course of their careers in order to keep pace with the ever- evolving demand for new skills and knowledge.

In 1996, governors and the federal government agreed to end individual entitlement to cash assistance, replacing it with federal funding for state block grants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).  TANF marked an historic shift in social policy by devolving to states and territories the authority to develop and implement innovative approaches to welfare reform that would better serve poor families and help individuals move from cash assistance and to stable employment.

Addressing the nation’s health care challenges will require joint efforts by states and the federal government to apply meaningful initiatives and help improve access to quality health care services at reasonable costs.

Providing for the safety and security of citizens is a high priority for governors. With the constantly evolving threat of terrorism and increased occurrences of natural disasters, governors must maintain and continually update state strategies to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies. Protecting the public requires close coordination among all levels of government, as well as with the private sector.

Governors strongly support the efforts and sacrifices made by the men and women of the armed forces – active duty, reserve, National Guard and veterans – to protect the United States and preserve our way of life. Governors are particularly concerned with the role of the National Guard as it is the only military force that a governor can call upon to respond to disasters and other emergencies.

The ability of public safety officials to respond to emergencies to save lives and protect property requires modern and reliable communications. Governors have worked to address the long-standing challenge of providing first responders with interoperable communications. Great strides have been made, but today’s systems remain complex and costly and fail to provide public safety officials with reliable technologies such as email, video and text messaging.

The nation’s governors are committed to protecting public health and conserving the environment for the American people. The future success of environmental protection and remediation efforts depends upon the continued successful implementation of programs at the state and local levels. To further the progress made to date, governors pledge to continue to promote environmentally sound policies within their state and work with Congress and the Administration on the development of new or revised federal environmental programs.

The national security and economic well-being of our nation are predicated on economic and environmentally sustainable supply and efficient use of energy. However, the United States is confronted by transformative energy challenges including price volatility in most energy markets, costly electricity reliability issues, continued dependence on oil from overseas nations, many of which are unstable, and mounting environmental concerns. Healthy and robust energy markets are a component of economic growth and job creation.

The nation’s governors are concerned about the growing challenges facing both state and federal agencies in managing and protecting our natural resources. As the United States’ diverse population rapidly expands, governors nationwide are addressing the issue of how best to use America’s land while preserving community character and protecting environmental health.