Friday, November 5, 2010

The Future of State Government

I attended the ImpactOHIO conference yesterday. 

The Port Authority maintains a "caucus" of federal and state officials and their staffs.  This was a good place to find many of them all in the one place to keep up the contacts.  Mission accomplished.

It was also a good place to get a  preview of the future of state government.  Here's a few tidbit observations I'll note:

  • Sacred Cows To The Slaughter.  The term sacred cow was frequently on people's tongues.  With the need to cut as much as $8 billion out of the next two-year budget and the idea of new revenues being unlikely, there are definitely going to be some sacred cows slaughtered.
  • Survival of the Fittest.  Pretty much everyone agrees, any entity that relies on state government funding is going to be in trouble.  Prepare for cuts.  The up side is that entities that can still do business with less state funding are going to be the survivors and, potentially thrive, in this new state government.
  • No More Kicking the Can Down The Road.  Another frequent phrase was no more "kicking the can down the road" should occur.  Journalist Tom Suddes summed it best.  He indicated that the, likely, decade-long control of state government that the GOP gained means that the tendency for legislators and executives to not tackle big problems makes no sense anymore.  It's time to govern.
  • Focus on Manufacturing.  People you wouldn't expect to talk about manufacturing and its importance to Ohio were talking about it.  There clearly will be a greater focus on manufacturing.  That is a very good thing, and a very timely thing.
  • The Death of Urban-Only Policy.  Though one urban-University president tried to take an urban stance that Ohio needs to focus on college education attainment as the answer to all that ails us, few were buying that thinking.  The focus was on skills training and a continuum of education that lets Ohioans achieve a career that fits what the business community in our state wants.
This last one fits the overall sense of the future of state government.  There's no doubt in my mind that the election shows Ohioans rejected urban-only policies being forced on a suburban state.

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