Governors Announce Initiative to Address Aging Infrastructure

The National Governors Association held their summer meeting for 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah, this past week. Dramatically improving our nation’s infrastructure tops the list of priorities. What’s next?

by / July 27, 2019
credit: National Governors Association (NGA)

The governors gathered in Utah this past week, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock presided over many of the meetings. The Montana Free Press reported:

“Bullock capped his yearlong chairmanship of the National Governors Association Thursday by releasing “A Governor’s Action Guide to Achieving Good Jobs for All Americans.” He shared highlights of its findings with the nation’s 55 state and territorial governors during the NGA’s annual summer meeting and discussed how states can help their workforces adapt to digital disruption.”

The Hill.com reported: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will lead the National Governors Association (NGA) for the next year, taking over an embattled organization that went through a painful leadership shakeup in recent months.

"The universal frustration is governors on both sides of the aisle are working hard and trying to get something done on this issue," Hogan said. "Washington has failed, and we've got to do something about it."

A little more than a year before the next presidential election, Hogan said he realized the political challenges of getting an infrastructure bill through Congress.

"I know it's a steep hill to climb, but I'm going to put as much time and energy into it as we can," Hogan said. "There are a lot of issues facing the governors and the country, but this is one where nearly all of the governors are facing this issue."

Details on New Infrastructure Initiative

Hogan announced a yearlong initiative to push for the repair, enhancement and modernization of our nation’s infrastructure through innovative fixes to bottlenecks, creative partnerships with private investors, streamlined project review, smarter technologies and improved cyberdefenses, as his signature effort as incoming chair of the National Governors Association.

Hogan’s Chair’s Initiative, Infrastructure: Foundation for Success, builds on increasingly active state efforts to meet the infrastructure needs of the 21st century, a task made more urgent by the lack of comprehensive federal action to address the nation’s aging infrastructure. Hogan’s initiative will help governors and other state leaders solve challenges with their roads, bridges, airports, railways, transit, energy, water and broadband Internet systems and other infrastructure by sharing lessons and ideas from around the country, as well as Australia, Canada and Japan, where study tours are planned.

“Infrastructure: Foundation for Success” effectively represents a refocused, supplemental version of the ‘Smarter States, Smarter Communities' initiative, while strengthening the security and cybercomponents.

Infrastructure: Foundation for Success rests on four pillars:

  • Governors can help lessen congestion — to better move people and goods, connect people to jobs and improve productivity — through innovative policies and new technologies.
  • Governors can expedite vital projects and reduce uncertainty and costs by adopting streamlined processes for permitting and review that increase transparency while meeting environmental, planning and procurement goals.
  • Governors can safeguard critical infrastructure — including the electric grid, oil and natural gas transmission and storage facilities, water treatment facilities, and the transportation network – from cyberattacks, in collaboration with the private sector, and local and federal government.
  • Governors can increase investments by expanding a range of revenue options and helping support private-sector financing programs.

More Detail on NGA Topics Covered in Salt Lake City

Here are six of the summer meeting sessions that you can watch online from the summer meeting that are available via YouTube. I have embedded the last video on infrastructure.

  1. NGA 2019 Summer Meeting Opening Ceremony & Plenary — Good Jobs for All Americans
  2. NGA 2019 Summer Meeting Plenary II — Combatting Human Trafficking
  3. NGA 2019 Summer Meeting Plenary III — Improving Outcomes for Disconnected Youth
  4. NGA 2019 Summer Meeting — Welcome and Recognition of America’s Space Program
  5. NGA 2019 Summer Meeting Plenary IV — Driving the Conversation: Safer and Smarter Roadways
  6. NGA 2019 Summer Meeting Plenary V — Infrastructure: Foundation for Success

New NGA Leadership

In this press release, NGA also announced their new leadership for 2019-2220.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was named NGA chair and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vice chair. Together they will lead the nine-member Executive Committee that guides the association’s priorities and activities. Other members of the committee include:

  • Gov. Jared Polis, Colorado; 
  • Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa;
  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan; 
  • Gov. Charlie Baker, Massachusetts;
  • Gov. Steve Bullock, Montana;
  • Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico;and
  • Gov. Gary Herbert, Utah.

"The NGA Executive Committee also announced the hiring of Bill McBride as the new executive director of the Association. McBride, a veteran political strategist and manager, joins NGA after a successful career spanning 30 years on Capitol Hill, as well as most recently serving as the state-federal director for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

McBride will lead NGA’s team of more than 110 staff."

More Specific NGA Topical Resources

   So far this year, this blog has covered NGA in-depth on these important topics:

I continue to be impressed with the pragmatic approach outlined by governors on a range of issues, while partisan politics dominate the discussions inside the Washington, D.C., Beltway. Most of the governors on the NGA Executive Committee seem to be moderates who are focused on projects that matter more to most Americans.

One of NGA’s strengths lies in the direct involvement of states, not only in its deliberations but also in the actual development of policies, strategies and practices. The 2019–20 work calendar for Infrastructure: Foundation for Success includes working sessions with stakeholders in several states, and will provide input opportunities on critical issues for the public- and private-sector stakeholders, including other states.

Infrastructure Stakeholder Summit — Massachusetts: Aug. 26-27, 2019, “Getting to Work: Relieve Congestion to Boost Economic Competitiveness”

Infrastructure Stakeholder Summit — Michigan: Oct. 17-18, 2019, “Strengthening Security and Resiliency: Protect America’s Critical Infrastructure”

Infrastructure Stakeholder Summit — California: January 2020, “Enhancing Efficiency: Eliminate Red Tape and Integrate Smart Technology”

Infrastructure Stakeholder Summit — Arizona: May 6-7, 2020, “Financing the Future: Leverage Private-Sector Investments”

For more details on these summit events, you can go here.

Final Thoughts

I certainly wish Bill McBride the best of success as he starts his role as NGA executive director. I worked with Bill on several occasions while I was Michigan CSO from 2011 to 2014, and he is an excellent choice, in my opinion.  

In summary, the Infrastructure: Foundation for Success initiative effectively represents a refocused, supplemental version of the "Smarter States, Smarter Communities" initiative, while strengthening the security and cybercomponents. It builds upon previous work, including the original Chair's Initiative 2008–2009 — "Strengthening Our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Future" and subsequent work and investments, including the Energy Policy Learning Network, Transportation Learning Network and Water Learning Network.

With election year coming in 2020, NGA is focusing on topics that make sense for the vast majority of Americans. There should be bipartisan support for getting infrastructure improvements done, which include better cyberprotections for critical infrastructure – including election security.  

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