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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.

Confirmed Cases: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
Copiah56615
Leake54819
Jackson53316
Holmes52741
Wayne52112
Washington4969
Lee49316
Oktibbeha48624
Yazoo4736
Leflore47249
Lowndes45311
Warren44317
Lincoln43534
Lamar4197
Grenada3805
Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
Lafayette3524
Newton3289
Sunflower3066
Covington3025
Bolivar27713
Panola2706
Adams26718
Chickasaw25918
Tate2577
Jasper2506
Marion24811
Pontotoc2476
Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
Yalobusha1617
Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 38442

Reported Deaths: 947
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4446
Houston4344
Limestone4090
Cullman4003
Pike3995
Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
Conecuh1804
Bibb1711
Macon1708
Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
Crenshaw1233
Lawrence1010
Washington1007
Cherokee747
Lamar711
Fayette671
Geneva670
Clay582
Coosa551
Cleburne291
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