Puerto Rico, Kansas, Alaska Policymakers
Lead Council of State Governments in 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky.--Puerto Rico Gov. Luis G. Fortuño is the new president of The Council of State Governments, a nonpartisan organization that serves policymakers in all three branches of government in the 50 states and territories. Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler is the new 2012 CSG chair, while Alaska Senate President Gary Stevens is the chair-elect.
The three leaders lauded CSG’s efforts to serve the states during these challenging times.
“Great challenges and great opportunities exist for all of us serving in the nation’s states and territories, and it is through a national leadership organization like The Council of State Governments that we can build and share new innovations and solutions that enable our communities to thrive and prosper,” Fortuño said.
Emler called CSG “a critical resource for our state and for legislators across the country. It gives our elected officials an opportunity to talk firsthand about how their own states compare with neighboring states and to develop solutions that are proven to work.”
“Our members can be extremely proud of the expertise and dedication of the many people working on our behalf.” Stevens said.
In November 2008, Fortuño was elected governor of Puerto Rico by the biggest margin in 44 years. Since taking office, his top priority has been to revitalize the island’s economy by putting the government’s fiscal house in order and pushing forward a series of major reforms and infrastructure projects that support sustained economic growth. Fortuño reduced an inherited $3.3 billion budget deficit - the largest proportionally in the country—from 44 percent to 7 percent of revenues, an 81 percent reduction. As a result, for the first time in decades, Wall Street increased Puerto Rico’s bond ratings. Fortuño also signed into law the biggest tax cut in Puerto Rico’s history. A new, simplified tax code provides a dramatic reduction in tax rates across the board, both individual and corporate. Average rates reduced 50 percent for individuals, 30 percent for businesses.
“Gov. Fortuño has demonstrated as governor the attributes we seek to emulate at CSG,” said CSG Executive Director/CEO David Adkins. “He has been a hands-on leader, not afraid to challenge the status quo and look for innovative solutions to entrenched problems.
Emler has represented the 35th District in the Kansas Senate since 2001. He was selected in January to become senate majority leader. During his time in the senate, Emler has chaired both the budget committee and the utilities committee. He currently serves as chair of the Senate Confirmation Oversight committee, as vice chair of the joint committee on Kansas Security, and is a member of the Governor’s Council on Homeland Security. Emler has served on CSG Midwest’s Executive Committee since 2011 and he was named last year to CSG’s Midwest-Canada Relations Committee, which works on trade relations and border security issues. He previously served as chair of CSG’s Midwestern Legislative Conference and is a 2002 graduate of the organization’s Bowhay Institute
“I know of Sen. Emler’s leadership abilities first hand, having served alongside him in the Kansas Senate,” Adkins said. “I am proud of all he has achieved in his service to the citizens of Kansas and I know that experience will serve him well in his role with CSG. Just as our Midwestern region benefitted from his leadership as one of our regional chairs a few years ago, CSG will be well equipped to help address the challenges facing the states during his service as our national chair.”
Stevens is also a member of the CSG West executive committee and the National Conference of State Legislatures executive committee. The retired history professor previously served as mayor of the city of Kodiak, Alaska, and has served on the Alaska Conference of Mayors and the Alaska Municipal League. He previously served on the Host State Committee for CSG’s 2003 national conference in Alaska.
“Alaska Senate President Gary Stevens brings so much to the table as a public servant. His understanding of history and his interest in helping solve problems makes him an effective leader in his state,” Adkins said. “His willingness to work across party lines and create lasting solutions to difficult problems makes him well positioned to serve as a the next national chair of CSG. He is a trusted and respected voice on issues affecting the states and I know his considerable skills will serve CSG and the nation well during his tenure as one of our officers.”
The Council of State Governments is our nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.