Be Respectful and Do Your Homework
Delaware House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf chairs several committees, including House Administration and Rules committees. He served in the minority party for years and learned lessons in that role. A former state police officer in Dover, Schwartzkopf believes the no-nonsense approach to police work also applies to chairing a legislative committee.
In a recent conversation, Richard Sliwoski made a Virginia state delegate laugh—and he was being serious. The director of Virginia’s Department of General Services said he was trying to get his agency to have more of an entrepreneurial spirit. “He said, ‘that seems sort of incongruous: A bureaucrat saying you should be entrepreneurial,’” Sliwoski, a 2012 CSG Toll Fellow, recalled. But it’s simple, really. “For me, it’s not making a profit; it’s saving money,” Sliwoski said. “I am here to drive down the cost of government.” That’s the attitude he tries to instill in the 652 people he manages at the department, and he empowers them to find new ways to save money for the state.
The number of employees in state and local governments has been declining since 2008 and represents the largest contraction of public employment in more than 30 years. The loss of jobs in the public sector would have been much more accelerated had it not been for a marked increase in federal aid—primarily the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which helped preserve a significant number of state and local jobs for several years. Those funds are now gone and, while private sector employment has been recovering slowly, many state and local governments continue to cut the number of people they employ.
I have an article appearing in this week’s Capitol Ideas electronic newsletter that looks at some of the issues discussed January 13-17 at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. The gathering brought together more than 10,000 transportation professionals from around the world, including many officials who focus on transportation policy at the federal, state and local levels. As usual there was plenty more that happened during the five-day meeting than I had space to recount in the article. So here’s a roundup of additional comments from a variety of speakers on a variety of topics including MAP-21’s focus on performance measurement, efforts to accelerate project delivery, what MAP-21’s expansion of the TIFIA program will mean for states, how federal restrictions on tolling might need to change to allow states to meet their infrastructure needs, and why many expect federal transportation programs could see cuts well before MAP-21 expires in 2014.