Governor Murphy and Governor Cox On The NGA Winter Meeting

NGA’s 115th Winter Meeting runs February 9-11,2023. We spoke to NGA Chair New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and NGA Vice Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox about the meeting.

What Do You See As The Top Priorities For The Winter Meeting?

Governor Murphy: “We’re looking forward to meeting with President Biden and members of his Cabinet to talk about our state priorities and to hearing from them about how states are going to benefit from the major laws he signed last year—CHIPS and Science Act, Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Personally, I’m looking forward to another discussion on my Chair’s Initiative, Strengthening Youth Mental Health, because we know that this topic transcends party lines as our nation’s youth are struggling right now. When we kicked off this initiative at the Summer Meeting in Maine we knew this would be a hot topic, but I have been blown away by the conversations we’ve already had during our first round table in Utah. I look forward to building upon that momentum at the NGA Winter Meeting and working with my colleagues across the aisle to develop a playbook to help our nation’s youth.”

Governor Cox: “We’re looking forward to conversations among Governors and with Congressional leaders and the president. There is no shortage of challenging issues that need attention and Governors have a lot of expertise to offer, so we’re looking forward to talking with federal officials about energy and permitting policies, immigration, inflation, and much more.”

Can You Please Share How You Think The NGA Winter Meeting Helps Further Bipartisan Policy Solutions?

Governor Murphy: “As Governors we have to solve problems that affect each and every one of our states. There aren’t Democratic problems or Republican problems, but issues that affect real people—the residents of our states. When Governors get around a table to talk about pressing issues we can find consensus because our residents depend on us to do just that. We’ve worked to address our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, offered best practices on keeping our schools and communities safer, and collaborated on critical priorities like public health and economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19. The NGA Winter Meeting offers another opportunity for all of us to share best practices and work together to solve the problems our states are facing.”

Governor Cox: “For Governors there is nothing more useful than being in the room with other Governors and learning together. Governors care less about where the ideas come from than how well they work. The NGA meeting also offers really valuable opportunities for governors to engage with federal officials, both to leverage the collective influence of governors and to help federal officials cloistered in DC understand the real-world impact of federal policies.”

How Will This Year’s Winter Meeting Help Highlight The Chair’s Initiative Strengthening Youth Mental Health?

Governor Murphy: “I am very much looking forward to the NGA Winter meeting and bringing together national experts to highlight our efforts to strengthen youth mental health and also discuss First Lady Tammy Murphy’s initiative to improve maternal and infant health across the country. We had a fantastic first convening hosted by Vice Chair Governor Cox in Utah and we are preparing to have our second convening with Governor Newsom in California next week. As we gather for the Winter Meeting, we look forward to reporting out the valuable lessons and examples learned thus far and using insights learned at the meeting to inform the playbook we will release in July about ways the in which states can provide resources and services to address the mental health crisis facing our nation. We will also preview our last two convenings which will address the final two pillars of our platform around ensuring access, affordability, and quality of care, as well as treatment, training, and supporting caregivers and educators.”

Governor Cox: “Chairman Murphy’s initiative on youth mental health is a critically important and very timely effort, and we’re interested to spend time learning from subject matter experts at the meeting. We’re also eager to learn from other governors which policies are most successful.”

Can You Share An Example Of Where You Have Learned From Other Governors In Approaching A Challenge?

Governor Murphy: “We’re establishing a robust offshore wind industry off the coast of New Jersey and I’ve had some great conversations with Governors like Doug Burgum in North Dakota, where they’ve been generating power from wind for years, about how we can be successful.”

Governor Cox: “There are too many examples to list, but the pandemic dramatically accelerated the sharing of best practices among Governors. Every week we took ideas from other Governors and watched them take ours. When deciding on a vaccine prioritization plan, we took West Virginia Gov. Justice’s simple yet brilliant suggestion that we prioritize solely on the basis of age. We threw out the well-intentioned but overly complex plans from our medical community that prioritized different tiers of essential workers and instead administered our limited vaccine supplies on the basis of age, which helped us quickly drive down mortality rates. As a non-pandemic example, we’ve had a number of states approach us to learn about our SafeUT app, which helps put students in touch with mental health professionals and anonymously report concerning behavior.”