Jan | Feb 2014


 

The Crippling Effects of the Dysfunction in D.C.

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CSG MIDWEST

Nebraska Sen. Beau McCoy

Nebraska Sen. Beau McCoy is the 2014 chair of The Council of State Governments’ Midwestern Legislative Conference. He has been involved with CSG since he was elected to the unicameral legislature in 2009. McCoy graduated from the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development in 2009 and the CSG Henry Toll Fellowship Program in 2011. He has served on the CSG Midwest Executive Committee for four years and also has served on the BILLD and Toll Fellows selection committees. He is a member of the CSG Executive Committee and the new CSG Federalism Task Force.
 
1 | What do you see as the most pressing issue facing the nation as a whole in 2014?
“I think the biggest issue we face across the country today is federal government overreach. We talked about that a lot in the Federalism Task Force, because whether it’s from regulatory agencies, whether it’s from entitlement program expansion in Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, … we’re struggling to balance budgets at the state level in the midst of a lot of turmoil in Washington.”
 
2 | What do you see as the most pressing issue facing states in the Midwest in 2014?
“In the Midwest we’re really struggling to grow jobs and that’s not just in states with high unemployment, but in states like ours. In Nebraska, where we have the third lowest unemployment, we’re struggling to find a skilled workforce for the jobs that are already here. … We have a lot of great companies and organizations in Nebraska—some that are agriculture-based, some that are in manufacturing, information technology—that are growing very rapidly in our state and are needing to hire for additional jobs. And we don’t have the workforce trained in Nebraska, or enough of a workforce, to fill those jobs, requiring companies here to go outside our state to attempt to try to bring those people in. So we’re quickly trying to shift gears at the education level to adjust and fill those jobs with Nebraskans.”
 
3 | What will state leaders need to do to address those issues in the most effective way?
“I think we’ve got to work together more than we ever have before, because individually, I think it’s very hard to communicate our concerns and the struggles we are going through as we deal with these issues. ... When we work together, we can deliver a message that can be heard, and has a history of being heard, at the federal level. … If we don’t address things together in a united front, it’s very, very difficult for Washington to hear us.”
 
4 | How can CSG help with those efforts?
“A lot of times in this era of turmoil, you have people who come into elective office with not a whole lot of experience. As an organization, when we drill down at the regional level, we can help those new legislators understand the wealth of resources available at their fingertips, online or pick up the phone and call, and the very talented and experienced people there—not just in Lexington, but in every regional office—can help them be more effective. That’s the beauty of our organization. I firmly believe that it’s made me a far better legislator and a leader having been involved with CSG from the very beginning. And I would daresay there’s a lot of my colleagues in the country who now are in leadership at the regional level or national level of our organization that would second my thoughts without a doubt.”
 
5 | How can state policymakers get involved with CSG and make the most of that involvement?
“I think it’s all about relationships. Relationships for us in Nebraska, with our unique unicameral system, are absolutely of highest value. I think it’s no different in CSG. You really just have to dive in and get involved and you have to get to know people.”