|Salt Lake City: Looking southeast towards Draper and Point of the Mountain|
Governor Parnell, who is the vice-chair of the NGA Natural Resources Committee, is expected to deliver a speech on resource development issues during the meeting. The Natural Resources Committee has jurisdiction over agriculture, energy, the environment, and natural resources issues. Gov. Parnell's presence on this committee better reflects Alaska's potential rather than performance; recent surveys by both CNBC and the Fraser Institute show that Alaska's business climate is somewhat unfriendly. To his credit, Parnell did try to mitigate the more confiscatory aspects of the ACES (Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share) oil tax scheme this year, but was rebuffed by the legislature.
The overall agenda of the meeting is addressed on this NGA press release. On Friday July 15th, the official business portion of the meeting begins, followed by the opening plenary session, which will focus on the role universities play in nurturing innovation and economic growth through collaboration and engagement with the private sector. On Saturday July 16th, there'll be a special stand-alone session of the Economic Development and Commerce Committee to discuss international trade and investment's role in domestic economic growth and job creation. Following that session, the governors will break down into their respective standing committees. On Sunday July 17th, governors will meet for a closing plenary session. New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning author Tom Friedman will discuss the global challenges facing America today and the role education plays in U.S. competitiveness.
KSL Channel 5 provides details on other expected activities. The governors will also have the opportunity to attend a reception at the Utah Museum of Natural History, a picnic at Red Butte Garden, an aerial ski show at the Utah Olympic Park and a performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They'll also have the opportunity to participate in a bobsled race at the Olympic park that will pit eastern governors against their western counterparts. The cost of hosting the governors, about $1.5 million, is all being raised privately, unlike the scheduled junket to Norway from August 27th through September 4th by 10 Alaska legislators at a public cost of up to $8,000 per lawmaker.
Sean Parnell should hit it off well with host Governor Gary Herbert. Those two, along with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Florida Governor Rick Scott, signed the Cut, Cap and Balance pledge to encourage the federal government to control spending on July 7th. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski have not joined the list of U.S. Senators who have signed the pledge; Don Young has not joined the list of U.S. House members who've signed, either.
Update July 15th: A total of 32 governors showed up. On Day One, the governors called upon the Federal government to quit wasting time and solve the debt crisis now. But host governor Gary Herbert also said Washington needs some incentive to control runaway spending and that forecasts of dire consequences if the debt ceiling is not raised are merely crystal-ball gazing. "I do know this: We need to bring some fiscal restraint to our spending in government. We cannot be this nanny state where we do everything for everyone from cradle to grave," Herbert said. "We have developed an entitlement society we need to get away from." However, the conference has already been spoiled by some censorship; the NGA denied press credentials to William Jasper, senior editor of The New American magazine, published by the John Birch Society. The NGA told Jasper that he was denied credentials partly because they are only for reporters engaged in the dissemination of objective news stories.
Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association is the collective voice of the nation's governors and one of Washington, D.C.'s most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices.