NCSL Legislative Summit: Snapshots from Chicago: October/November 2012 | STATE LEGISLATURES MAGAZINE
Industry Leaders on the Business of Job Creation
If the question is jobs, the answer is education. An inadequately prepared workforce is the biggest hindrance to long-term job growth, the CEOs of Caterpillar and State Farm said during a discussion moderated by former Michigan Governor John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable. They suggested business and government work together to develop targeted vocational education at community colleges.
Lessons in Leadership From Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt believed that the man who counts is not the critic, but the man in the arena, Pulitzer-prize winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin told delegates at the closing general session. “So all of you here today who have chosen to fight in the arena, to struggle to make lives better for your towns and your cities and your states, can feel similarly,” she said.
What Do Americans Really Think?
“The American public is crying out for someone to talk to them, reach out to them, give them a sense of how we can get out of this,” said pollster Peter Hart. He and fellow pollster Neil Newhouse shared their latest findings that only 30 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction.The greatest challenge for politicians now is “how to win the nation.” Newhouse believes the key question for this election is, once again, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”
Economic Forecaster Implores Feds to Take Action
“I’m sick and tired and a little disgusted with what’s going on in Washington,” Diane Swonk, Mesirow Financial’s chief economist told Summit attendees. Predicting dire consequences if the country goes off the so-called fiscal cliff, Swonk admonished Washington politicians for failing to take action. “I don’t care if you’re red or blue. We’re black and blue now.” Swonk praised state lawmakers for making the tough fiscal choices those in Washington, D.C., have avoided.
Leaders Share Stories, Offer Lessons on Leadership
“Another fine mess I’ve gotten myself into,” was Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver’s (D) reaction to becoming speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly. Her message was clear: Being a leader can be tough. The keys to success include working with the minority party and mentoring the next generation of leaders. “You need to let the minority feel it has a voice,” said Florida Senate President Michael Haridopolos (R), who literally removed the door to his office to encourage an open-door policy for his colleagues across the aisle.
What Drives the Next Generation’s Interest in Public Service?
“It’s always been done this way,” doesn’t mean much to 35-year-old Missouri Representative Clem Smith (D). He participated in a discussion on what drives the younger generation of state legislators and staffers. Representative John Burris (R) of Arkansas, first elected to the House at age 23, thinks his young age is an asset. Other panelists agreed, saying they bring new perspectives to the debates.
—Alex Fitzsimmons, with Jon Kuhl, Ed Smith and Mark Wolf