Membership Monthly – February 2022

Updates from the NGA Membership Team for February 2022. For more about the programs below and a list of upcoming events please email us at:

2022 Winter Meeting Recap

114th NGA Winter Meeting Addressed Governors’ Key Issues

Clockwise from top left: Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, Maine Governor Janet Mills, Delaware Governor John Carney, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt

In a forward-leaning program that comprised the 2022 Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., Governors from states and territories across the country joined in compelling conversations about best practices and bipartisan collaboration across an array of top-line issues.

NGA’s three task forces met to consider the growth of electric vehicles, America’s return to work, and preparation for a cybersecurity crisis.

Priorities addressed in the plenary sessions included: NGA Chairman and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s Chairman’s Initiative, K-12 Computer Science Education; implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; and bipartisan leadership that furthers American excellence.

We were joined by many special guests who gave us their time and expertise, including: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg; Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo (former Governor of Rhode Island); Senior Advisor to the President for Infrastructure Coordination Mitch Landrieu; Best Buy Co. Inc. CEO Corie Barry; Land O’Lakes Inc. CEO Beth Ford; Accenture Chair and CEO Julie Sweet; and David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chairman of The Carlyle Group.

Governors were welcomed at The White House for a meeting with President Biden and Vice President Harris. Gov. Hutchinson and NGA’s Vice Chairman and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy appeared together on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and gave a press conference upon departing from the White House.

We are already looking forward to the Annual Summer Meeting July 13-15, when Governor Janet Mills will host us in Portland, Maine!

Plenary I, Chairman’s Initiative K-12 Computer Science Education With Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo

Gov. Hutchinson presented an NGA Chairman’s Initiative Compact. He asked Governors to sign the compact and commit to expand access to computer science education in their states and territories. Secretary Raimondo moderated a discussion with the three Fortune 500 CEOs on workforce issues related to the Chairman’s Initiative. The Secretary highlighted the Digital Equity Initiative to expand broadband access in rural areas and to increase digital literacy. Ms. Ford spoke about the importance of broadband for education and business opportunity in rural areas. Ms. Sweet noted that while the pandemic perhaps accelerated the need for digital literacy for remote work, her company required digital skills for employment even before the onset of COVID-19. Ms. Barry discussed her company’s actions to make students a critical component of its talent pipeline for building a diverse and digitally literate workforce.

Above from left, Secretary Raimondo, Ms. Ford, Ms. Sweet and Ms. Barry

Plenary II, Infrastructure With Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg

Secretary Buttigieg joined virtually for a practical discussion of implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Secretary said that Governors may expect new guidance and applications to become available from the Department of Transportation every couple of weeks for the first half of 2022. In response to Governors’ concerns about state flexibility under the new programs, Secretary Buttigieg said that he “recognized the value of flexibility…to be able to effectively deploy dollars.” He committed to “work with [Governors] to ensure that there is the best level of flexibility that we can deliver, consistent of course with our core commitments of our standards, expectations and the values and priorities that guided the creation of this bill and guide our Administration.”

Above from left on stage, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Gov. Hutchinson. Secretary Buttigieg joined on screen

Plenary III, Bipartisan Leadership: American Excellence With Mr. David M. Rubenstein

Mr. Rubenstein led Governors in a discussion of bipartisanship. Governors commented on the necessity of bipartisanship once elected to public office, the benefits of getting to know members of the other party on a personal level, and the international implications of political divisions in the United States. Gov. Hutchinson stressed the nature of a Governor’s job is to solve problems, and citizens hold their Governors accountable for their effectiveness. He said the nature of the job often requires a bipartisan approach if it is to be effective. NGA Vice Chairman and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said that the passage and enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act should he held as a model of bipartisanship which should be replicated in other issue areas.

Above from left, Gov. Hutchinson, Gov. Murphy and Mr. Rubenstein start off the session

Government Relations

Governors Set Priorities for NGA Task Forces

During the 2022 Winter Meeting, Governors approved a resolution establishing priorities for the National Governors Association’s three task forces. NGA will continue to support states and territories in addressing both the public health and economic impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, NGA will continue to advocate for broad flexibilities for states and territories on federal legislation, policy and regulations, help states and territories with implementation of the various COVID-19 relief packages and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and ensure states and territories have the tools and resources necessary to respond to future challenges.  

The organization’s task forces serve to focus NGA’s federal advocacy efforts on Governors’ top priorities.

For the coming year, areas of focus are as follows: 

Task Force on Economic Recovery and Revitalization

Co-chaired by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster  

  • — Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Implementation 
  • — Water Resources Development Act Reauthorization
  • — Farm Bill Reauthorization
  • — Public Finance (such as advance refunding advocacy)
  • — American Rescue Plan Act / COVID-19 Relief / Build Back Better implementation if legislation is passed

Task Force on Pandemic and Disaster Response

Co-chaired by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee 

  • — Military and National Guard Issues
  • — Disaster response, recovery and reform
  • — Cybersecurity
  • — Post public health emergency (end of increased FMAP, Medicaid redeterminations, SNAP, TANF) 
  • — Post COVID-19 health care issues (telehealth, mental health, polysubstance abuse, workforce, health care infrastructure, equity) 
  • — COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 lessons learned 

Task Force on Community Renewal 

Co-chaired by U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and Missouri Governor Mike Parson

  • — Buildout of broadband projects
  • — Funding levels for Victims of Crime Act and critical public safety funding
  • — State unemployment insurance systems 
  • — Federal resources for state workforce needs and labor shortages
  • — State education financing NGA thanks the Governors who lead the task forces and welcomes participation by other Governors. We will keep all Governors apprised of task force activities.

Communications Spotlight

In recent months, Governors have been teaming up on a bipartisan basis to access national media opportunities to speak on issues that are most important to their states. These activities give Governors a chance to speak in their own words about initiatives in their home states and practical actions being taken to solve specific problems.

As Chairman and Vice Chairman of the NGA, Gov. Hutchinson and Gov. Murphy are in frequent touch.

The two top leaders of NGA co-authored an opinion piece on bipartisan leadership that was published on the website of Fox News at the beginning of the Winter Meeting. Titled “Bipartisan Leadership from America’s Governors Delivers Solutions that Work for All of Us,” the piece reviews Governors’ working together on solutions in the areas of public health, infrastructure and education. The piece concludes, “As we meet the challenges of this year, we will continue to use our collective strengths and bipartisan leadership to drive solutions and address new difficulties that will inevitably come our way. It is this leadership that works on behalf of the American people and strengthens faith in public service.”  

Above left, they hold a press conference outside of the White House after meeting with the President and Vice President. Above right, they discuss bipartisanship among Governors in a joint appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Both of these events occurred during the Winter Meeting. Quotes from the interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd:

Governor Hutchinson: “For 114 years, the Governors have been convening in a bipartisan way to work on problems and challenges. And let me assure everyone that’s there’s still plenty of differences. Gov. Murphy and I disagree on a lot of issues, and we can fight over those. But there’s so many things as Governors we could work together on. And this is what’s great is that we actually gather together as Governors. We meet, we discuss, we set aside the things we can’t agree on. But when you’re looking at infrastructure, when you’re looking at computer science, which is my initiative, when you’re looking at the challenges of COVID, we benefit from discussing and working on these things together. And it’s a common voice that we can have with the Administration. So, it’s been very productive in a bipartisan way, and I think it’s a good example for America.”

Gov. Murphy: “I would echo much of what Asa has said. I actually think the NGA is a very formidable, effective organization, and I think Governors have never mattered more. So if you look at the agenda this weekend, reiterate infrastructure, important across the aisle. Computer science education, which the chair has led on in the past year. COVID response to pick three. Education more broadly. I’m an optimist I think those numbers go the other way, Chuck. I think we’re going to see more commonality. Again, we’re not going to agree on everything. That’s just never going to happen. But I believe we’re going actually going to find more common ground as opposed to less.”

Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox and Kansas Governor Laura Kelly joined forces to publish an opinion piece titled “Strengthening Work-Based Learning Programs.” The piece originally appeared on the website of Fox News. Both states participated in NGA’s Policy Academy on Scaling Work-based Learning. An excerpt from their opinion piece reads, “As the nature of work and careers changes, we as governors have embraced work-based learning as a tool to equip young people in Utah and Kansas for jobs in a world that increasingly demands technical skills in addition to soft skills best learned through real on-the-job experiences.”

Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey co-authored an opinion piece addressing worker displacement in their respective states. First published in U.S. News and World Report, their piece is titled “Alabama and Hawaiʻi Focus on Providing Job Opportunities in the Post-Pandemic Economy.” Alabama and Hawaiʻi are members of NGA’s Workforce Innovation Network. The authors conclude, “While our approaches differ in recognition of our states’ unique circumstances and needs, they converge on a common goal: to help workers emerge from these trying times more resilient, more prosperous and better equipped to meet the challenges of the future. Whether you’re in Honolulu or Tuscaloosa, on the Napali Coast or the Gulf Coast, we’re working today to help every American succeed in the economy of tomorrow.”

NGA Activities

New Opportunity for States: Next Generation Healthcare Workforce

As part of their overall workforce development initiatives, states and territories are considering strategies to build an enduring healthcare workforce.

NGA’s Center for Best Practices is launching a technical assistance opportunity to support those efforts titled Preparing the Next Generation of the Healthcare Workforce. Through this effort, state teams will be offered technical assistance as they create action plans aimed at recruiting, training, retaining and increasing the healthcare workforce in their respective states.

Four to six states will be selected to participate through a competitive process. States will first assemble teams that will be led by representatives from their respective Governors’ offices.

The process for teams will include: assessing the current environment; sharing successes and best practices; setting goals; learning from national, state, and local experts, exchanging ideas with other state officials; and developing and executing action plans to achieve program and policy changes. During the project, the NGA Center for Best Practices will convene meetings for an in-depth policy exploration on workforce issues in the healthcare sector to inform the process.

Specific activities will include a kick-off meeting for all selected states, facilitation and support for state action planning, optional in-state visits, specialized technical assistance, webinars featuring national subject matter experts and peer learning. The collaborative will culminate with an end-of-project event to share outcomes and best practices.

Applications must be received by Feb. 28. Information and the application download are available here.

Spouse Program

NGA Spouses Program Supports National Guard Troops

The NGA Spouses Program convened at the 2022 Winter Meeting with a robust agenda including policy sessions focused on Children’s Advocacy Centers, trauma-informed practices and programs aimed at supporting incarcerated individuals — particularly incarcerated mothers. Additionally, First Spouses joined Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady of the United States, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and spouses of military leaders at the White House. The group assembled more than 1,000 care packages to be distributed to National Guard members deployed abroad on coronavirus-related operations.

Photo from left: Louisiana First Lady Donna Edwards, Arkansas First Lady Susan Hutchinson and New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy pack care packages at the White House.