Governors Suggest Feds Can Learn from States
As the nation's governors wrapped up their annual meeting of the National Governors Association, two of them -- Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) and Jay Nixon (D-Mo.) -- offered the federal government some advice on how to change the way it does business.
Both state executives agreed the federal government would operate better with a balanced budget system. Nixon said the approach, "brings a whole level of discipline" to governing, something lacked by the federal government, which adopts the culture of "walking away from problems and pointing their fingers at somebody else."
Pawlenty took a more ominous approach.
"We’re going to have the government debt equivalent of the mortgage crisis down the road, because our federal government, whether when Republicans have been in charge, or Democrats have been in charge, have been on basically an unbroken trajectory of more and more and more debt. You can not forever suspend the laws of gravity by spending more than you can afford, or spending more than you have, and not have that come back and haunt you."
Pawlenty also suggested the federal government could learn valuable lessons from state programs, like Minnesota's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Campaign, designed to reintegrate and support returning members of the military and their families. He cited his administration's work on renewable energy, education and performance pay as other examples.
When asked about the practicality of Obama's calls for greater transparency and accountability, Nixon insisted the federal government can do it.
"It’s a mentality that’s developed in state governments where we’re just far more open with the public," he said.
"I wouldn’t ever want to run for Congress, but if I was up here, I’d rewrite the FOIA. It’s absolutely absurd how long it takes people to get public records. The taxpayers pay for those documents, they pay for the lights in those meetings, they pay for the water in those meetings, they ought to be in them."
Pawlenty concurred: "We really have to maintain that commitment to being transparent and making it Web-enabled so anyone anywhere can get any information any time they want."
During the interview both governors also said they will use most of the federal funding provided to their states by the economic stimulus package on job creation and retention.
"I think the governors -- Democrats and Republicans -- understand we go back with a united mission to try to get people back to work. Some may go about that in different ways. We all have different ways we're going to do that," Nixon said.
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