WASHINGTON—The nation’s governors will gather in Washington, D.C., later this month during their annual Winter Meeting to discuss issues affecting states, share innovative solutions and look for ways to strengthen the state-federal partnership.
The National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting, February 21-24, will include sessions with the President, members of his cabinet, business leaders and other experts.
“As governors we need to make government work every single day because we do not have the luxury of inaction,” said NGA Chair Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. “While Washington remains gridlocked on many issues and unable to pursue long-term solutions, governors are doing their part to create jobs. On the state level we are reforming education, improving infrastructure, restructuring health care and developing energy resources.”
“The NGA Winter Meeting gives governors the chance to talk about jobs, education, energy, health care and other important issues in each of our states,” said NGA Vice Chair Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. “States are innovating at all levels and leading the country in finding solutions to often complex issues. We look forward to sharing these solutions and finding more ways to involve our federal partners.”
Saturday’s opening session will focus on Gov. Fallin’s chair’s initiative, America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs. This initiative targets improving state education and workforce training systems and aligning those systems with the needs of individual state economies. States are leading the way by improving education and using education systems to build a highly skilled workforce for the coming decades. The “new minimum” for economic success is either a two-year or four-year college degree or relevant workforce certification. America Works aims to help states overcome the gaps between their education and training systems and the workforce those systems are preparing young people to enter. The session will feature an address by Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric, followed by a discussion among governors.
Later that day, the Economic Development and Commerce Committee will meet to discuss transportation reauthorization. Speakers at the session include Mary Peters, former U.S. Department of Transportation secretary; Roy Kienitz, former U.S. Department of Transportation under secretary of policy; and Jim Tymon, director of program finance and management at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
Concurrently, the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee will discuss the future of the National Guard with Gen. Frank Grass, Joint Chiefs of Staff member and chief of the National Guard Bureau. They also will discuss state disaster response with Richard Reed, senior vice president of disaster cycle services, and Suzy DeFrancis, chief public affairs officer, both of the American Red Cross.
Sunday’s business sessions begin with a discussion about early education with the Education and Workforce Committee. Speakers include U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan; Maryland School Superintendent Lillian Lowery; and Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs Commissioner Jeana Ross.
Sunday’s special session will be an open discussion among governors about employment trends in states, growth opportunities they have seen and the changing economic climate. This special session will be moderated by Maria Bartiromo, anchor and global markets editor for Fox Business Network and the Fox News Channel.
In the afternoon, the Health and Human Services Committee will cover state efforts to combat prescription drug abuse. Concurrently, the Natural Resources Committee will meet to discuss the energy sector. They will be joined by Ernest Moniz, secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy; Daniel C. Esty, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; and Kathleen Neset, president of Neset Consulting.
On Sunday evening, governors and their spouses will join the President and Mrs. Obama at the White House. The following day, governors will return for meetings with the President and Vice President.
Throughout the meeting, there also will be “governors-only” sessions to provide governors the opportunity for discussion among themselves.