Written on: December 18th, 2014 in Effective & Efficient Government
Co-authored by Governor Markell and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom
As the dust settles after the midterm elections, it is clear that voters across the country sent a strong message that they have had enough of partisan gridlock and inaction in Washington. And now the hard work begins – turning to the future and to the ideas that will move our nation forward.
It’s often been said that states are the laboratories of democracy. And as state leaders, we know that innovative solutions, big and small, are being put into action every day in cities and states across the country.
Looking ahead, we believe America faces three fundamental challenges: How do we expand opportunity for all Americans? How do we create the economic growth necessary to achieve this? And how do we modernize government so we can rebuild the trust we need to address the challenges of today and tomorrow?
In this partisan environment, it’s easy to throw up your hands and be cynical about government. But the truth is a lot of progress is happening, especially on the state and local level. We’re a part of NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders) — a network of pro-growth progressive mayors, state legislators, county and city officials — and we decided to challenge these leaders to give us their best ideas of what can work. We received more than 60 ideas ranging from improving our schools and investing in infrastructure to reforming taxes and making government more transparent and accountable.
The winners of the “New Ideas Challenge” offer four great examples of innovative, results-oriented policies that can help secure America’s future.
In Salt Lake County, Mayor Ben McAdams is pioneering a new way for government to focus on what works best. Knowing the impact that quality pre-kindergarten programs have, particularly in lower-income communities, McAdams is using Pay for Success Bonds, where private investors pay for the up-front costs of pre-school and get paid back if the programs succeed in saving taxpayers money from fewer at-risk kids using more expensive programs such as special ed. This pay-for-success model gives government the tools to fund an ounce of evidence-based prevention on the front end out of cost savings on the back end—and can be applied to a variety of social services.
Building on work in San Francisco, St. Louis City Treasurer Tishaura Jones’ College Savings Program would provide each child entering a public school kindergarten with a seed account of $50, which families can build on via financial incentives for good grades, attendance and family participation in a financial wellness program. Studies show that kids with savings accounts are more likely to enroll in and graduate from college, so these accounts will benefit not just the child, but all of us.
Through his Town-Square Schools program, Cincinnati City Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld is transforming school facilities — which too often sit unused — into round-the-clock neighborhood hubs that offer after-school programming, health resources, adult education and recreational opportunities for students, their families and the surrounding community.
And Oregon state Rep. Tobias Read is being recognized for his work with the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange (WCX), a partnership between Oregon, Washington, California and British Columbia to help address their collective infrastructure gap. WCX is working to unlock private investment for public projects, share best practices, partner on smaller projects, and incorporate climate resilience.
These ideas — and many more we received — are promising examples of how to re-imagine government for the 21st century, as we seek to ensure that Americans can compete and win in the changing global economy. And it is exactly this kind of fresh thinking that we hope can be injected into the national debate in the coming months and years. And if so — the real winners will be the American people.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell is the co-chairman of the New Ideas Challenge. California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is honorary regional chairman of NewDEAL. This piece was originally published on Roll Call.
Written on: September 17th, 2014 in Effective & Efficient Government
While the preamble to our national constitution sets out the mission for our federal government, its vision cannot be realized without the leadership of states.
Our brave first responders help to insure domestic tranquility, while the National Guard is called upon to provide for the common defense. State courts are necessary to establish justice. And we promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty by providing access to housing, health care and schools.
In the process, states’ roles in advancing our society transcend their borders. We act, in the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, as “laboratories of democracy.” As Brandeis explains, a “state may, if its citizens choose … try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
The Affordable Care Act, based on Massachusetts’ health care reform, is perhaps the most prominent recent example of a state innovation guiding national efforts to address our country’s challenges. Earlier this year, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy visited Delaware to highlight our efforts to clean up power plants and reduce dirty air emissions, including through a partnership with neighboring states. That work helped shape the President’s new Clean Power Plan.
Delaware has a special obligation to serve as a laboratory of democracy – to innovate and figure out what works. We are small and nimble, with the ability to quickly bring together public and private sector leaders to solve problems. But we’re also diverse, with varied economies and lifestyles represented in our different geographical regions, as well as among our urban and rural areas. What works in Delaware can work anywhere.
At a time when the country faces increasing competition from abroad and the quality of one’s education and training is more important than ever, our state can help secure the blessings of liberty for America’s posterity. The hard work of our educators – from preschool through high school and beyond – has given us that chance, if we are willing to make the long-term commitment to the innovations we have begun.
First, we can transform the opportunities for low-income children to have access to the early learning they need to start school, ready for success. By raising the reimbursement rates that early childhood programs receive for serving these kids, and by paying higher rates to high-quality programs, we’ve already seen the number of low-income children in the best programs more than double in three years. We must continue to ensure programs have the resources they need to improve, recognizing that high-quality early learning has shown to be the best investment our country can make in economic development.
Second, Delaware is effectively transitioning to the Common Core education standards thanks to the leadership of our administrators and the educators in our classrooms. They have benefited from a voluntary statewide initiative called Common Ground, which meets individual school needs for resources and support for teachers. That program has also brought together educators throughout the state to share best practices and develop lesson plans. Raising expectations for our students to be ready for college or career is critical across the country and Delaware can set an example by tackling this issue successfully.
Finally, while college isn’t for everyone, it’s clearly important for the next generation to have access to higher education. Delaware leads the country in identifying assistance that students need through our advanced data system that tracks student progress. In addition, our program to offer free, school-day SAT testing to all high-schoolers helps us know who is on track for college. We provide all of our college-ready students with the information and resources, including application fee waivers to those who qualify. And students receive assistance with their applications and financial aid forms in schools. Last year, every college-ready student in Delaware applied, and 98 percent enrolled, compared with only 82 percent to 86 percent in prior years.
Delaware has a long, honorable tradition of leading progress in our country. A desegregation lawsuit brought by our state’s first African-American attorney, Louis Redding, helped pave the way for the Brown v. Board of Education case that outlawed racial discrimination in schools nationwide. Delawareans invented and operationalized the nation’s first flour mill, resulting in a surge of economic growth. And the successful Jobs for America’s Graduates program, founded by Gov. DuPont, has effectively helped many of the most at-risk students across the country to graduate and pursue careers.
Now, Delaware has an opportunity to help America become a more perfect union by securing our nation’s future. I’m confident we are up to the task.
This blog was originally published in The News Journal.
Written on: August 21st, 2014 in Job Creation
Like most Governors, I focus every day on how my state can successfully compete in a global war for jobs. Delaware is not just competing for jobs with Maryland, Pennsylvania, or even California. We compete for jobs with economies from Bangalore to Berlin.
The war for economic growth and prosperity is not a fair fight. And one major source of unfairness, one major hindrance to our growth here in America, is our own U.S. Tax Code.
In recent months, numerous American companies like Walgreens, Pfizer, and Chiquita have explored merging with foreign competitors so that they can move their headquarters – and their tax payments – overseas.
This is the so-called “tax inversion” wave, in which companies seek to merge with foreign companies so that they can reduce their overall corporate tax burden. The economics of these deals are not that complicated. U.S.-headquartered companies pay the highest corporate income taxes in the developed world. If they can reduce their tax burden, that frees up millions of dollars to pay to shareholders or reinvest in their businesses.
One of the easiest ways to reduce that tax burden is to merge with a foreign company in a jurisdiction with a lower tax rate. In essence, a U.S.-headquartered company acquires a foreign rival, transfers its legal headquarters to the foreign country, and keeps huge tax savings.
In many of these cases, the tax savings from leaving the U.S. behind becomes part of the financing for the deal. In one recent proposed merger involving a company with a large presence in Delaware, news reports revealed that as much as 60% of the purchase price could be funded by reduced taxes. In a case involving a company based in Minneapolis, these reported tax savings equated to over 32% of the purchase price of the foreign company.
These tax inversions come at a significant cost for the rest of us. The federal government loses significant corporate income tax revenues. In Delaware, where many American companies are incorporated, we lose both the income tax on corporate profits and the fees they pay to incorporate here.
But tax revenues are not the most important thing. Moving the headquarters of these American companies overseas means the loss of jobs here in America. As these companies become taxpayers and corporate citizens in places like Ireland and the United Kingdom, the companies will have less incentive to grow here – in the states and communities they used to call home.
Congress and the Obama Administration cannot wait any longer to come to agreement on reforming our corporate tax code to remove the loophole that creates this perverse incentive for sending job overseas and, instead, incentivize job growth at home.
The broad parameters for tax reform are well-accepted by Democrats and Republicans. We must reduce our country’s high corporate tax rates to support our business community while encouraging companies to repatriate foreign profits. And we must close loopholes that allow some companies to pay little taxes by pursuing strategies like inversions as they otherwise benefit from conducting much of their business in the United States. In doing so, we can simultaneously end the motivation for inversions and better support American companies and workers.
The inequities of the current system affect every state – red and blue. So stopping this tax inversion wave should not be a partisan issue.
I am perfectly comfortable competing in a fair fight for jobs. Delaware has much to offer those who make the decisions about where to invest their company’s private capital. We have an experienced and productive workforce, reasonable taxes, a responsive government and an unmatched quality of life. Those things matter to the corporate executives that I talk with. But if they save billions by moving their headquarters to London, they will do so.
More and more companies are embracing these tax inversions with each passing month. While not every deal succeeds, the trend is unmistakable and will continue until we see reform from Washington. Our choice is simple. Change our tax policies or expect to see more jobs and needed revenue crossing our borders, headed the wrong way.
Written on: July 22nd, 2014 in Effective & Efficient Government
Remembering my most recent visit to Israel last July to meet with thriving entrepreneurs and the leaders of the Middle East’s leading democracy, I think of the people in the region who want nothing more than to live in peace and pursue their dreams. I support Israel’s right to defend itself from a terrorist organization’s indiscriminate rocket fire – rocket fire that has continued even during cease fires. The international community must stand firm against Hamas and its lack of concern for how its actions endanger innocent Palestinians and Israelis alike.
Written on: June 18th, 2014 in Effective & Efficient Government
Some of the highest ranking politicians in Washington have decided they can dismiss discussion about climate change by simply saying they are not scientists, but governors do not have the luxury of pretending climate change is not causing real damage.
We are on the front lines of hurricanes, wildfires, droughts and other natural disasters. We live with the consequences of congressional inaction and, in Delaware’s case as the lowest-lying state in the nation, it could literally put much of our state underwater.
Those who continue to raise doubts about settled science slow our ability to confront this challenge with an appropriately scaled response.
So while there has been plenty of political reaction to the Obama administration’s decision to rein in carbon pollution from power plants, this effort is required to improve our environment and health. Using the right approach, it will also strengthen our economy.
Governors have learned a lot about climate change from experience. We are seeing its impact, from rising sea levels to more frequent and powerful extreme weather events that put families and businesses at risk
In Delaware, climate change could decimate our world-class beaches and tourism industry. Our largest industry, agriculture, faces both dangerous droughts and prolonged periods of heavy precipitation that damage crops. Businesses dependent upon abundant clean water confront saltwater intrusion contaminating their water supply. Inland and coastal communities alike experience more flooding during heavy rain events and more intense storms, like Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. Extreme heat waves threaten the health of our most vulnerable populations.
The accelerating impacts in Delaware are similar to those in other states across the nation, as outlined in the National Climate Assessment released last month.
In light of these vulnerabilities, we have acted to make our state more resilient and protect our critical infrastructure. We are restoring wetlands, nourishing beaches, repairing dikes, dams, and impoundments, modernizing stormwater infrastructure, and updating policies like drainage codes and floodplain standards.
While steps like these are important, no state can simply adapt its way out of this challenge. We must address the root cause of climate change, not just the symptoms — and do it in a way that bolsters the economy. That means limiting carbon pollution from power plants.
We already have safeguards against other pollutants like mercury, soot and arsenic. But every day, power plants are allowed to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into our air, endangering public health and putting communities at risk. It is common sense to set limits on carbon pollution and unleash American ingenuity to achieve the most cost-effective reductions.
To claim that the president’s actions will kill jobs and hurt the economy flies in the face of hard evidence. Our experience in the First State proves that the administration’s goals are achievable and can strengthen the economy when states are given the flexibility to implement innovative solutions.
Over the past five years, Delaware has shifted from one of the dirtiest energy mixes in the nation to one of the cleanest. We have decreased emissions by a greater percentage than any other state in the nation, while creating jobs at the same time. And we have done so with the same approach the president proposes for the country.
Local generators have fuel-switched or shut down nine out of 10 coal plants in favor of cleaner generation facilities, while the remaining unit installed $300 million in pollution controls. We have invested in energy efficiency and our solar energy deployment has grown by 30-fold. Each of these investments creates opportunities for research, manufacturing and construction jobs.
Meanwhile, Delaware and eight other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states are part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a market-based system that has helped reduce carbon pollution from power plants in our states by more than 40 percent since 2005. By capping pollution, auctioning pollution allowances, and investing the proceeds in energy efficiency and clean energy, our states have simultaneously reduced energy bills, supported construction jobs and cleaned up the air.
Several governors across the nation are also doing their part to reduce carbon pollution and prepare for the impacts of climate change — and demonstrating the economic benefits that can result from action — but no state can do this alone. We need a national-scale approach that spurs domestic innovation and catalyzes global progress. With the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement, the president is providing the essential national leadership to facilitate that progress and address some of the greatest threats to our future.
This blog was originally published on The Hill.