With the start of a new year, governors, like the president, gave their annual state of the state addresses. We would like to commend those governors who used their annual address as an opportunity to call for bipartisanship and interparty cooperation. In particular, we highlight Republican Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan and Democratic Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who devoted time in their addresses to reach a hand across the political aisle.
“I also want to thank many legislators here for your great work, though, on doing legislation to help prevent blight and to deal with people that have taken advantage of other people through substandard housing. In particular, I want to give a shout-out to [Democratic] Senator Virgil Smith for his outstanding work in this area. Thank you, Virgil…
“Another item I want to mention in terms of an absolutely great achievement that was done with great bipartisan support is Healthy Michigan, which is about bringing coverage to 470,000 low-income but hard-working Michiganders that deserve health care coverage. And I want to give a special shout-out to Representatives Kahn — or, excuse me, Senator Kahn, Representative Shirkey, Representative Lowry, and actually the entire House and Senate delegations from the democratic caucuses. Thank you for your strong support in making that happen.”
Governor Steve Beshear:
“We have also begun an aggressive initiative in Eastern Kentucky called ‘S.O.A.R.’:
“‘Shaping Our Appalachian Region.’” That region has traditionally relied on the coal industry for much of its income and employment. But a stunning downturn in the coal market is exacerbating historic challenges in Eastern Kentucky related to unemployment and poverty, deepening the suffering for many families. S.O.A.R. will help the region develop and more importantly put into action new locally oriented strategies to attack those challenges.
“We kicked off S.O.A.R. with a big bang: In early December, U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers (R) and I ? along with President Stivers (R) and Speaker Stumbo (D) ? co-hosted a one-day summit in Pikeville attended by over 1,700 Kentuckians. Almost every member of the General Assembly from Eastern and Southern Kentucky attended that summit ? as did leaders in business, education, health, social services, the environment, tourism and energy. It was a huge sign of engagement from regional leaders, and we heard a lot of suggestions. A planning committee is sifting through recommendations and will deliver a report to the Congressman and me very soon.
“As part of our commitment to tangible action, the Congressman and I are looking for a way to invest in high-speed broadband access across the region ?and I am also looking to find a way to finish ‘four-laning’ the Mountain Parkway. And I have a strong feeling that we may be receiving some news out of Washington as soon as tomorrow in support of S.O.A.R.’s goals … and it’s going to be great news. We are at the beginning of a very long process to address these regional issues, but the Congressman, the President, the Speaker and I are determined to see this effort through, because every Kentuckian ? including every Kentuckian in Eastern Kentucky ? deserves the opportunity to share in that vision of a better quality of life.”
There is much Washington decision-makers can learn from their state and local counterparts. The 50 State Solutions series offers examples of bipartisan leadership in the states with the hope that some of it will rub off on our D.C. representatives, and provide examples for Washington to follow. Please suggest examples in your own community of state and local officials from both parties working together to get things done for you. Use the hashtag #50StateSolutions on Twitter.