Ideas. Action. Results.

BPC’s Governors’ Council brings to the federal discourse the experienced and pragmatic perspective of bipartisan leaders with proven records of tackling challenges. Download the Governors’ Council One Pager

Council Members

In 2011, the Bipartisan Policy Center 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. As leaders of our “laboratories of democracy,” governors around the country are on the frontlines.

Several years into a period of prolonged economic weakness and instability, many Americans have lost faith in and the ability of federal decision-makers to come to grips with a host of difficult challenges – straining state-federal relations. But it is precisely in times of economic hardship and social discontent that our nation needs federalism to work at its best. Today’s challenges create opportunities to put our federalist system on a new and stronger footing and will create powerful incentives for states and the federal government to work together more efficiently.

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. As a group, they have three primary concerns regarding state interactions with the federal government: (1) the impact of growing budget pressures at all levels – including unfunded mandates; (2) the effect the inflexibility and bureaucracy associated with many federal policies and programs has on states’ ability to innovate; and (3) the inability of Congress to address the nation’s most pressing problems.

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 focused on transparent and flexible performance goals and shared responsibility

The council released recommendations for reforming Medicaid waivers in February 2012, and is exploring other areas for improving the state-federal relationship.

Solving the nation’s problems with fewer resources is the reality for the foreseeable future – but one with a significant upside if it spurs a thoughtful examination of how federalism could be made to work more effectively for the American people.

Tackling the Opioid Epidemic at the Federal and State Levels

September 26, 2018 | Governance

Members of BPC’s Governors’ Council talked with the HHS Assistant Secretary about the response to the opioid epidemic and the latest from the states.

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Restoring Our Democracy

April 17, 2018 | Governance

The members of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Governors’ Council led a unique public discussion with political and business leaders on how we can work together to restore our democracy and its model of civilized debate.

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Former Governors Offer Recommendations to President Trump’s Opioid Crisis Commission

July 12, 2017 | Governance

Only through a sustained effort will we stop the epidemic and help the millions of people who are touched by this crippling public health crisis.

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Letter to the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

July 10, 2017 | Governance

As former governors, we welcome President Donald Trump’s attention to the critical issue of the opioid epidemic and the commission’s work to address the tragic increase in opioid overdose deaths. We offer the following suggestions to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis to consider.

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BPC Congratulates Sec. Sonny Perdue

April 25, 2017 | Governance

As a member of BPC’s Governors’ Council and as co-chair of our Nuclear Waste Council, Sonny was a champion for deliberation, discussion, and collaboration.

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Rebalancing the Federal–State Partnership

November 16, 2016 | Governance

The expansion of federal power over recent decades has prompted growing concern about a deepening and ultimately corrosive imbalance in the federalist system.

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State Budget Stresses: How Federal Decisions Impact State Programs

June 14, 2016 | Economy

BPC hosted an event with a group of former governors to discuss how states balance their budgets while maintaining commitments to Medicaid, education, and other priorities.

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Governors’ Council

January 23, 2013 | Governance

BPC’s Governors’ Council brings to the federal discourse the experienced and pragmatic perspective of bipartisan leaders with proven records of tackling challenges.

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