Laboratories of Democracy: Is Your State Enterprising...Or Not?


by Bill Miller | June 21, 2011

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Much of our focus here on this blog is on federal issues, and moving our elected officials in the direction of an agenda that promotes economic recovery and job growth. However, it is important that we don’t overlook the fact that the future of the American economy is impacted in a big way by those efforts undertaken in state capitals across the country.

Yesterday, the U.S. Chamber brought together the leaders of several those state capitals for the 2011 Governors Summit. Here, a round table discussion was formed between governors and state business leaders to trade tactics and insights on how to best implement enterprise –friendly policies to create jobs, enhance economic development, and head towards prosperity.

In the past , we’ve highlighted the efforts of some state leaders, such as Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker, to show real leadership by proposing common-sense spending cuts and reforms to help create jobs. Yesterday, we heard from Gov. Walker and others on how they continue to make progress in their states.

We think Washington could learn a lot from  Wisconsin and several of the other states represented yesterday.

That being said, the situation in an overwhelming majority of states is dire. In total, 44 states and the District of Columbia are projecting budget shortfalls amounting to 2 billion for the 2012 fiscal year. That’s to say nothing of the growing unemployment rates in many of these states that are directly impacted by the policies enacted (or not enacted) by their elected officials.

For these reasons, the National Chamber Foundation today released its second annual Enterprising States report:

This report connects the success of free enterprise to our nation’s economy by correlating key policy inputs and best practices in state-driven economic development with job creation and other substantive economic outputs.

Specifically, the report looks at state policies and best practices in the following important policy areas:

• Entrepreneurship and Innovation
• Exports
• Infrastructure
• Workforce Development and Training
• Taxes and Regulation

It was the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis who said that individual states could act as “laboratories of democracy.”  As this report shows, there are a number of states in which these policy experiments are working and showing measurable results that can and should be applied by other states — and perhaps even our policymakers in Washington, D.C.

After the Summit came to an end, Margeret Spellings, president of the U.S. Chamber Forum on Policy Innovation, sat down with Fox Business to discuss the Summit, what  discussions like this can reveal about the economic health of our states, and how the governors can use this insight to implement pro-business, pro-jobs policies that get our economy back on track.  As the former Secretary of Education, Spellings also didn't hesitate to weigh in on how quality education should be leveraged to restore such an economic climate.

Where does your state rank in its efforts to enact such policies?  Click here to view the interactive state map and find out.

Tags: Economy and Taxes


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