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Local, state leaders agree on message of support to President-elect Clinton as he takes on tough issues.

Leaders of the nation's states and local governments and corporate America met in Colorado Springs, Colo. last week and reached agreement to support President-elect Bill Clinton in making the hard choices necessary to reduce the federal deficit, to control soaring health care costs, and to reorder priorities to make strategic investments in the nation's future.

The leaders said they would continue efforts over the coming weeks to reach consensus o a more detailed agreement, including the outlines of a package to restart the nation's economy.

Governor Roy Romer of Colorado, the chairman of the National Governors Association, hosted the summit meeting as part of a three part series to present a consensus public private agenda to the new administration and leadership of the 103rd Congress. He told the public and corporate leaders: "This is a unique opportunity and critical initiative if we can focus on constructive agreements to get the nation moving forward and to ensure it will be internationally competitive."

Romer was scheduled to call President-elect Clinton after the meeting to brief him on the agreement and to offer the group's input as Clinton nears critical decisions on setting his own economic agenda.

NLC First Vice President Don Fraser, mayor of Minneapolis, and Second Vice President Sharpe James, mayor of Newark, made clear NLC's recognition and support for major changes under a new administration.

They noted that the nation's cities and towns are critical to the implementation of any new federal strategic initiatives. And they noted that state and local cooperation will be as important to ending the gridlock as changes in Washington.

They strongly supported the effort to make sure state and local leaders are at the table as equal partners to help make and implement changes.

Fraser said: "We urge that this meeting focus on an agenda to get the nation moving again. Focusing our agenda on one area where we can reach consensus and present a united front to the new President and new Congress is critical. It will be our opportunity to accept the challenge and responsibility of leadership and change."

James urged a reordering of federal spending priorities to get the nation's economy back on track:

"To achieve that goal will require an immediate investment program which can be measured in long-term results - not short term fixes. It will require substantial investment in our public and human resources.

It will require addressing the extraordinary imbalance in the federal budget.

"Making our country competitive will require reinvestment in the nation's metropolitan areas to make them the foundations for international trade. These areas are the sources of economic growth and economic opportunity."

State Representative Arthur Hamilton of Arizona, the incoming president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, noted that the extraordinary NLC-NAC0-NCSL leadership project on entitlements demonstrated that state and local elected leaders can take on tough challenges. He noted that at current project federal spending levels, federal entitlement spending and interest on the national debt will balance total federal revenues in 202. That is, the federal government could terminate all defense, foreign, and domestic discretionary spending , and by the year 2003 there would still be a federal deficit.

Romer had invited NLC's leaders and leaders from other state and local government organization as well as corporate leaders at the first state-local summit since 1987. Gov.'s Castle (R-Del.), Miller (D-Ga.), Edgar (R-Ill.), Sullivan (D-Wyo.), Engler (R-Mich.), Walters (D-Okla.), Campbell (R-S.C.), Mickelson (R-S.D.), Sundlin (D-R.I.), and Dean (R-Vt.) all participated in the day-long meeting as did leaders from the American Business Council and the Committee for Economic Development.

The governors proposed this first meeting to focus on federalism. The second, scheduled for December 1, is on health care. The third, set for December 15 is on the federal deficit.

In reaching consensus, the leaders agreed that facing up to serious national problems will take political will and courage. They pledged to accept that challenge and committed to work with the new administration and Congress to succeed.
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Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 16, 1992
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