Leaders Come Together to Discuss Key Steps States Can Take to Restore Economic Confidence
Governor John Hickenlooper joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber Foundation (NCF) today for a bipartisan summit of governors, state chamber executives, and leading business people to discuss policies—including those in Colorado—that make states attractive for businesses to locate, relocate, and expand in this uncertain economy. The leaders also discussed the unintended consequences of specific state budget cuts and the investments the public and private sectors can make now to improve the economy in the future.
“When it comes to job growth, the state level is where the rubber meets the road,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber. “Companies, capital, and jobs go where they are welcome. States must focus on expanding the economy by embracing free enterprise principals which will help businesses grow, prosper, and hire.”
Governor Hickenlooper talked about how Colorado is working to enhance the state’s economic competitiveness. His administration is focused on cutting red tape, finding appropriate regulation for business and the environment and creating jobs through a “bottom-up” economic development plan that includes input from all 64 counties in the state. Colorado places in the top 25 in five of six workforce and training measures, ensuring the state has a well-educated workforce ready to fill the jobs that businesses create.
“There is no more important topic facing the states or the country as a whole than sustained economic recovery in a global environment that is, to say the least, challenging,” said Governor Hickenloope, co-chairman of today’s event. “We find ourselves in a situation where the easy choices have already been made and we have to chart a new and more painful course or risk bankrupting this country and crippling future generations. Working together, regardless of political party or industry or personal interest, is key to each state’s future success and the overall prosperity of our nation.”
Governor Hickenlooper was joined by Governors Bob McDonnell from Virginia, Jack Markell from Delaware, Terry Branstad from Iowa, Rick Scott from Florida, and Scott Walker from Wisconsin at the summit, which also marked the release of the second Enterprising States study. The study, prepared by The Praxis Group, highlights state-driven initiatives, including those in Colorado, to redesign government. This included dealing with excessive debt levels that inhibit economic growth and job creation, and implementing forward looking, enterprise-friendly initiatives with a primary goal of creating the conditions for job creation and future prosperity.
The study found that most states have already taken actions to streamline and downsize government to meet the new economic realities. This has proven to be challenging given the increased demand for state services during the national recession. To recoup lost revenue, states have taken such actions as eliminating tax exemptions, broadening the tax base, and in some cases increasing rates as well as raising fees. Low tax rates by themselves are not a silver bullet for growth, but it has become clear that outdated state tax systems can undercut economic vitality. Any state with a budget tilting towards insolvency is in a weak position to make and maintain investments in its workforce and economic infrastructure.
“It’s tough to create an environment for job creation and the Governors we heard from today are on the frontlines of our economic challenges,” said Margaret Spellings, president of the Chamber’s U.S. Forum for Policy Innovation. “We learned about the tools they are using to restore the stability and confidence that fuels our free enterprise system, and these are the lessons that we must apply if we’re going to continue to work on changing our stubborn economic trends. Our study, Enterprising States, is a snapshot of these effective policies and programs that every state can benefit from as a best practices road map towards economic recovery.”
The Enterprising States study is available at: http://www.uschamber.com/reports/enterprising-states-2011
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.