This year state leaders have worked hard to make the tough decisions necessary to balance budgets, create jobs and build sustainable government programs. The Council of State Governments is proud of the role we play in helping state leaders achieve excellence. We know when state leaders come together to share capitol ideas, good things happen. That is why we are so glad you have chosen to join us here in Washington for CSG’s 2011 National Conference.
In a nation divided between red and blue, states increasingly agree on green. Not the much discussed “green jobs” that draw cheers or jeers depending on the audience, but on the greenbacks that are flowing through states from one of the few things that appears to be working in our economy—exports. With the president’s submission of three pending trade agreements to Congress, exports might also be one of the few areas where both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue can reach agreement.
A quick read of the headlines might lead one to think that state governments are headed the way of Lehman Brothers. However, a closer look at the tough decisions being made in state capitals across the country shows that governors and state legislators are confronting a historic state budget crisis head on. States know that there will be no more bailouts and are making the hard choices today on spending and taxes that Washington tends to ignore.
The House of Representatives rushed back to Washington this week to send $26 billion in budget relief to beleaguered state capitols by extending stimulus payments for Medicaid and state education programs. The funding arrives at a critical juncture, with the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, police officers, and other public employees on the line.
As President Obama welcomed activists from across the country to the White House to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), similar scenes played out in state capitols across the country with governors and state legislative leaders marking this important anniversary. However, for the 54 million Americans living with a disability, the future of the programs and services they depend on to live, learn, and earn is deeply tied to a host of tough budget choices and Byzantine program requirements faced by policymakers in the state house as well as the White House.