at the CSG Eastern Regional Conference 53rd Annual Meeting
in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Dec. 8, 2013.
Thank you very much for this opportunity. First, I want to thank our hosts for this wonderful event, President Bhatia, Speaker Borrás, the ERC and all who’ve done such a wonderful job.
Second, I want to thank Chairman Stevens. Serving with Gary these last several years has been, and continues to be, a great honor—and a lot of fun! Sen. Stevens epitomizes what CSG is all about in so many ways—integrity, dignity and the sovereignty of our states. His focus on federalism and co-chairmanship of our federalism task force has been critical in keeping CSG “the place to be” during this 80th anniversary year of our service.
Looking forward, what keeps us in the forefront will depend a great deal upon all of you, and I want to assure that CSG is always able to provide the programming and research and perspective it takes to support your public service. As chair, it will be my goal to keep CSG the place to be; the place to champion state government to advance the common good.
And how do we do so? Certainly by continuing our Focus on Federalism as we provide a forum for discussion, debate and better understanding of what we, as states, can do to preserve and strengthen our rightful place as states in this federal system.
But we must remain relevant in other ways as well. My initiative, as chair, working with 2014 CSG President-designate, Earl Ray Tomblin, governor of West Virginia, and our chair-elect, Sen. Carl Marcellino of New York, will be Workforce Development and Education: State Pathways to Prosperity. We will not only focus on best practices for successful alignment of labor, education and economic development, but we will include a focus on important challenges and opportunities related to workforce development like veterans affairs, hunger, children in poverty and criminal justice. All too often, we find that workforce development and education are overshadowed, if not overwhelmed, by ever increasing demands for human services. States need to do better dealing with these not only holistically, but realistically. I believe there’s enough talent in this room, in this region, and throughout all four regions, which collectively comprise this great organization, for states to set the standard of success in moving our nation forward.
I look forward to working with, and through, our four regions and everyone at the home office in Lexington to build upon all the great work that’s been done this year, and the past 80 years, to assure that we continue to provide our members, our affiliates, and the associates who support this organization, the service and support they require and deserve.