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Governors: States are where the action is

About half of Americans sa...

Posted: Jan 10, 2019 6:57 PM
Updated: Jan 10, 2019 6:57 PM

About half of Americans say they are starting off the new year with firm resolutions for improving their lives. Many of our states are off to a fresh beginning, too, with much the same goal in sight. By the end of the month, 21 new governors will have been inaugurated across the country, joining Alaska's Mike Dunleavy, who was sworn in at the start of December.

Together these talented individuals represent a wave of ideas and energy hitting where it will have the most positive impact for the American people -- in their states.

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That's because the states are the engines of change in our democracy. While it may be the worst of times in Washington, with unprecedented political infighting and gridlock, it's truly the best of times in the states. Citizens are involved, communities are resurgent, and progress is accelerating. Congratulations to each of our fellow outgoing governors for their important contributions to this trend.

Bipartisanship has a lot to do with state success stories emerging across the country. This is one of the key messages we both delivered at the Seminar for New Governors put on by the National Governors Association after the elections. As the departing chief executives of our respective states, we were honored to share what we learned in our combined 16 years in office.

Our first exhortation to America's new state leaders was to leave the campaign trail behind. The more quickly a governor transitions from running for office to running the state, the better for constituents. That means abandoning the "red team" versus "blue team" mindset of elections in favor of an "all on the same team" approach to good governance.

For both of us, our greatest achievements -- the victories we'll one day revisit from our rocking chairs -- were the ones that brought disparate interests together. In Tennessee, for example, it is a deeply shared commitment that has brought the state up from the bottom of the national education rankings to post record-high graduation rates and the best ACT scores in its history. Now, Tennessee is considered among the brightest spots in the Southeast for student growth and achievement, and the state continues to improve.

This change didn't come easily. Even in education, the politics of opposition is stronger than the politics of support. In the case of one of us, progress spanned the tenures of two governors (the first was Democrat Phil Bredesen) from different parties, and there were plenty of lengthy conversations with concerned teachers, parents and communities along the way

But the Volunteer State is reaping the benefits of sustained cooperation. Together, with bipartisan support, Tennessee made the largest investment in K-12 education in the state's history, reorganized the higher education structure to empower student success and post-secondary credentials, and saw children of all ages reach new levels of educational success.

For the third straight year, record numbers of Tennessee high school graduates are headed to college -- 221,775 students enrolled in community colleges and public universities for the 2018-2019 academic year -- and employers that may never have considered Tennessee before are relocating so they can hire from such a capable workforce.

We told this story to new governors so they would know how important it is to keep up the dialogue. In our experience, breakthroughs come right at the edge of defeat, so it's vital never to lose hope.

This is something we recently saw in Colorado, where a divided government nonetheless put up one of the most productive legislative sessions on record. Scores of important bills passed, many by unanimous vote, as the state's leaders reached across the aisle to find agreement on stabilizing pensions, addressing a backlog of transportation projects, increasing broadband internet access in rural areas, and bringing new resources to bear on the opioid epidemic, to name just a few.

Incoming governors asked many questions about how they could engineer such results. Among the things we told them was to feed on consensus, not conflict. To lead effectively but listen even more. And when the going gets tough, bring everyone back to one essential question: What does the greatest good for the greatest number of people -- in our state?

By and large, answering that question means dealing with the bread and butter issues that are a governor's domain. Citizens care about the roads they drive to work, the schools they trust with their children, the health care available when they get sick, the safety of the communities they call home and the opportunity available to themselves and those they love.

It's easy to lose sight of these simple truths in the isolation of the governor's office, so our last words of advice were for new governors to leave their capitals whenever possible. Perspective is "out there."

We are ending our terms at this most difficult, busy, rewarding and unforgettable experience of governorship. And we couldn't be more grateful for having had the chance to serve, nor more hopeful for the future than we are now based on what we know of the 22 capable new governors who will continue the work for Americans in the new year.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 256827

Reported Deaths: 5638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17257180
Hinds16331322
Harrison13567194
Rankin10804212
Jackson10453184
Lee8864141
Madison8314164
Jones6434112
Forrest6009120
Lauderdale5902186
Lowndes5405116
Lafayette499193
Lamar488565
Washington4803124
Bolivar3997109
Oktibbeha395381
Panola372379
Pontotoc367853
Monroe3558105
Warren354898
Union345960
Marshall344066
Neshoba3396152
Pearl River3301100
Leflore3041107
Lincoln298085
Sunflower286671
Hancock274459
Tate273162
Alcorn265453
Itawamba263759
Pike263778
Scott248046
Yazoo247056
Prentiss246552
Tippah243050
Copiah242749
Coahoma241054
Simpson236467
Leake231765
Grenada219471
Covington214672
Marion213073
Adams207070
Wayne202932
Winston201666
George199839
Attala194259
Newton193444
Tishomingo189361
Chickasaw185044
Jasper172736
Holmes168767
Clay159833
Stone144721
Tallahatchie141934
Clarke139862
Calhoun136521
Smith121424
Yalobusha117834
Walthall112336
Noxubee110822
Greene110429
Montgomery109834
Carroll104821
Lawrence102917
Perry102631
Amite98426
Webster92824
Tunica87321
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis85326
Humphreys83124
Benton82023
Kemper77620
Quitman6968
Franklin66715
Choctaw60913
Wilkinson58725
Jefferson54919
Sharkey43117
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 426543

Reported Deaths: 6126
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62752920
Mobile30551554
Madison27303186
Tuscaloosa20835267
Montgomery19192305
Shelby18693114
Baldwin16513183
Lee12603101
Morgan12321113
Etowah11805168
Calhoun11206200
Marshall10236107
Houston8681148
Cullman8094105
Limestone807474
Elmore7923101
DeKalb771597
Lauderdale763183
St. Clair7599120
Talladega6224108
Walker5930174
Jackson583741
Colbert535473
Blount532083
Autauga522755
Coffee446256
Dale399781
Franklin368148
Chilton337865
Russell335910
Covington330168
Escambia321342
Dallas305196
Chambers288669
Clarke283133
Tallapoosa2630107
Pike251329
Marion247350
Lawrence245247
Winston229035
Bibb217047
Geneva203335
Marengo200829
Pickens196931
Hale177442
Barbour173836
Fayette171226
Butler170758
Cherokee160930
Henry155021
Monroe147317
Randolph141535
Washington138326
Clay127045
Crenshaw120244
Cleburne118423
Lamar118419
Macon116835
Lowndes111535
Wilcox103621
Bullock99728
Perry98219
Conecuh95120
Sumter89526
Greene76223
Coosa60515
Choctaw51524
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