In 2011, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) launched the Governors’ Council to bring pragmatic state-based perspectives to national issues. The federalist tenets at the heart of the U.S. Constitution have fuelled a dynamic debate about the balance of federal and state powers throughout our nation’s history. Many of today’s most complex and pressing challenges, from reviving the economy to controlling health care costs, are deeply entangled in the interplay between federal and state roles and responsibilities. Recognizing that governors around the country are on the frontlines of many of these challenges as leaders of our “laboratories of democracy,” BPC formed the Governors’ Council to inject into the federal discourse a strong sense of the changing landscape outside of Washington and new thinking on best practices from the states.
Federalism at its best marries the strength and resources of the federal government with the unique perspectives and capabilities of the states. Many governors believe that this relationship is increasingly falling short of this ideal. Too often, policies adopted at the national level—though they may be well-intended—result in federal over-reach, impose unfunded mandates, trigger unintended consequences and/or stifle state innovation.
BPC formed the Governors’ Council to inject into the federal discourse a strong sense of the changing landscape outside of Washington and new thinking on best practices from the states.
The Council brings together a bipartisan group of former governors who have proven records of working across the aisle with their state legislatures, Congressional delegations and other governors. They offer this experience along with practical, reasoned solutions on a variety of issues and public policy challenges critical to the national debate.
Annually, the Governors’ Council will examine targeted issues through a handful of short reports and regional events. The Council’s work will:
- Explore federal-state dynamics
- Identify state best practices that might be adopted among other
- states or at the federal level
- Make recommendations and articulate goals relevant to the issue.
Solving the nation’s problems with fewer resources is the reality for the foreseeable future. It is a reality—and a challenge—that could yield
significant upsides if it spurs a thoughtful examination of how federalism could be made to work more effectively for the American people.
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