National Governors Association
The National Governors Association (NGA) is a bipartisan organization of the nation’s governors. NGA has a system of rotating chairs of NGA. When the Chair is a Democrat then the Vice Chr. is a Republican and vice versa. The chair and vice chair each serve for one year in their positions, with the vice chair becoming chair at the conclusion of the chairs term.
Gov. Leavitt served as vice chair to Gov. Carper (D-Delaware) from 1998-1999 and was named chair when Gov. Carper’s term concluded in August 1999. He served as chair from August 1999 to July 2000. Gov. Paris Glendening (D-Md.) served as vice chair with Leavitt.
As Chairman, Leavitt focused on “Strengthening the American State in the New Global Economy”. A new NGA task force was created, “State Strategies for the New Economy”. Throughout the course of the year, papers created from the Task Force were released by Governors in their states. They were available on line and were widely read.
The annual winter meeting was one of the highlights of Leavitt’s chairmanship. The plenary session with Thomas Friedman, the New York Times foreign affairs columnist, was one the most interesting and interactive sessions NGA has ever had.
On the final day of the winter meeting, the first ever and historic meeting with the nations’ governors and the US Senators took place in the Russell Senate Caucus room. The discussions were divided into three major subjects: Governance in the Cyber Century: the convergence of Technology and Globalization; the Federal-State Partnership: a Historical Look; and Federal-State Programs: New Models for the 21st Century. The purpose of the meeting was toinitiate a discussion and lay the groundwork for consideration of how to create a dynamic forward looking state-federal partnership.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott(R-Miss.) and Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.) and NGA leaders Leavitt and Glendening led the discussion. Moderators included Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), Governor Grey Davis (D-Calif.) and Senator George Voinovich(R-Ohio).
An NGA paper, Governance in the New Economy, served as the background for the meeting.
While this meeting was a success and led to Federalism hearings, Leavitt had hoped that this would become an annual event. The Feb. 29, 2000 joint meeting was very successful. However, it has not been repeated.
Leavitt concluded his Chairmanship with the annual meeting in St. College Pennsylvania in July 2000. Highlights were the final speech as President to NGA by President Clinton and a Govs. only session with Alan Greenspan.
Even though the NGA is a bipartisan organization, there have been times when it has become somewhat divided along party lines. During his Chair, Gov. Leavitt was able to keep the NGA a relevant, bipartisan organization that was called upon often during Congressional deliberations on issues affecting the states. He had the trust and respect of both Republican and Democratic members of congress as well as Republican and Democratic Govs.