Governors: States Lead the Way

WASHINGTON—National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Vice Chair Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe today delivered the fourth annual State of the States address at the National Press Club.

“It’s the states that lead this nation forward,” Gov. Herbert said. “Our friends down the street might have the luxury of inaction and letting partisan politics stall real progress, but we don’t.”

“States solve problems,” Gov. McAuliffe echoed. “States will solve national issues through persistence and ingenuity where Congress fears to tread.”

Gov. Herbert focused on state breakthroughs happening every day to improve people’s lives. He listed several initiatives in the speech, including easing restrictions for nonviolent offenders in Mississippi, combating cyber crime in Virginia, strengthening Medicaid in Alabama and protecting individual freedom in Utah. Those are all part of Gov. Herbert’s NGA chair’s initiative, States: Finding Solutions, Improving Lives, which will highlight the cutting-edge ways states are helping their citizens.

Gov. Herbert also called on the federal government to treat states as true partners, rather than merely as stakeholders. “A balance of power between the states and the federal government is not only right and proper, it is essential if we are to find solutions to the complex problems we face as Americans,” Gov. Herbert said. “This is not about ideology; it’s about results.”

Drawing on that, Gov. McAuliffe outlined specific legislative priorities for 2016 that governors will focus on. Priorities include strengthening the quality of K-12 education, making the state and local tax deduction permanent, combating the opioid epidemic and protecting citizens’ data while building a strong cyber workforce.

Gov. McAuliffe concluded with two specific asks for Congress: securing and expanding the role of the National Guard and passing Marketplace Fairness legislation.

Both governors touched on state successes in 2015. Gov. McAuliffe outlined wins for states at the federal level within four categories: education, with the recent repeal of the No Child Left Behind law; a long-term transportation fix passed by Congress in December; the restoration of governors’ set-aside funds for workforce programs; and health care flexibility for states.

To view the speech text or watch video from the event, click here. And in a little more than a month, the nation’s governors will convene in Washington, D.C., for the annual NGA Winter Meeting, Feb. 19-22.