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ANNUAL NGA STATE OF THE STATE: Governors Herbert and McAuliffe Outline Governors’ Priorities in 2016

In the annual National Governors Association (NGA) State of the States address, Utah Gov. and NGA Chair Gary Herbert (R) and Virginia Gov. and NGA Vice Chair Terry McAuliffe (D) called for “meaningful collaboration” between the federal government and states and pointed to the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as an example of what such a process could look like.

“Innovative, important work is happening in all states, regardless of whether they’re red or blue,” Herbert said. “If you analyze where the real action is taking place in this country on transportation, economic development, education, or many other issues, you will find that states are there leading the way.”

Pointing to the recent change in congressional leadership, Herbert said that the nation’s governors have a “real opportunity to rekindle a deliberate and meaningful collaboration” between states and the U.S. Congress and between states and the executive branch. “That means joining together with the federal government as equal partners to find solutions to the challenges we face as Americans.”

In his remarks, McAuliffe said ESSA, which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act and steers much more responsibility for student outcomes to states, is such an example.

“The process worked, the product is excellent—this is cooperative federalism at its best,” McAuliffe said. “ESSA returned authority to state and local governments and we will have to implement the law over the next 18 months. We are up to the task.”

McAuliffe also outlined a series of education priorities for the nation’s governors in 2016, including expanding the availability and quality of preschool programs, increasing access to postsecondary education while reducing cost increases, and creating opportunities for individuals not interested in college to attend training programs and earn workforce credentials. To support governors’ work in these areas, McAuliffe called on Congress to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

Herbert and McAuliffe’s remarks are available at

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