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Haslam on ‘Taking Care of the Customer’

Bill Haslam has spent the last two days swapping notes with fellow Republican governors across the country and wearing his business-minded leadership model on his sleeve.

Just a few miles away from Epcot in Orlando, Fla., the governor sat in on several panels at the Republican Governors Association conference, including one dissecting the political outlook going into the 2012 election – Florida is expected to be a swing state – and another about the directions Republican governors are taking their states.

“We talk about the customer all the time,” Haslam told a Thursday panel entitled Lessons from the States: How Republican Governors are Leading the Nation.

“You need to be taking care of the customer. You should know who that is, and we should take care of someone who is taking care of the customer.”

In a Thursday morning panel, Haslam joined Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. They talked about wanting flexibility in using federal dollars, how states have planned for the drop-off in stimulus funds, and philosophies behind running government.

The discussion was moderated by former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who this summer spoke at the annual Tennessee Republican Party Statesmen’s Dinner. Haslam has said Daniels is one of the first governors he turns to for input.

Note: Audio from the RGA session on “Lessons from the States: How Republican Governors are Leading the Nation” was provided to TNReport by a reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

 

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Guv in DC for NGA & RGA Winter Meetings

Gov. Bill Haslam is in Washington, DC today for National Governors Association and Republican Governors Association conferences.

Here’s the NGA press release:

Governors to Focus on State Fiscal Conditions, Job Creation, Health Care, and Education

WASHINGTON (2/26/11)—Governors from across the nation gather this weekend to address critical issues, including state fiscal conditions, job creation, health care and education during the National Governors Association (NGA) 2011 Winter Meeting. Governors will also meet with President Obama, members of the Administration, members of Congress, business leaders and industry experts for discussions on a range of issues and challenges facing states.

Led by NGA Chair Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and NGA Vice Chair Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, business sessions at the three-day event will include two plenaries and meetings of the five NGA committees. The NGA Winter Meeting will run from February 26-28 in Washington, D.C.

This morning, the official business portion of the meeting will begin with an opening plenary session highlighting job creation, which continues to be a top priority for governors. Governors will be joined by Dr. Michael E. Porter of the Harvard Business School, who will provide an overview of the key elements needed to grow a state’s economy. The party secretary of the Hunan Provincial Committee, Zhou Qiang, is leading a delegation of Chinese officials interested in establishing a subnational dialogue with NGA and will conclude the session.

“As governors, we face similar situations every day,” Gov. Gregoire said. “Our country is still faced with an unprecedented fiscal crisis, and we must make tough choices for our states. But with these challenges comes great opportunity. The unique bipartisan structure of NGA meetings enables us to put politics aside and have candid conversations to develop innovative and improved approaches to governing.”

Using other high-performing countries as a guide, the Education, Early Childhood and Workforce Committee will meet this afternoon to focus on concrete action steps that governors can take to improve education in their states.

On Sunday, the Economic Development and Commerce, Health and Human Services and Natural Resources committees and the Special Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety will all meet for policy discussions. These sessions will focus on the state of public finance; turning health care cost challenges into opportunities for reform; the development of domestic resources; and cybersecurity, respectively.

Private “governors-only” sessions, including a meeting with President Obama and Cabinet members at the White House, provide governors the opportunity for dialogue on a variety of issues facing states.

“I’m excited to be here with my fellow governors, including many who are here for the first time,” said Gov. Heineman. “The NGA Winter Meeting gives governors the opportunity to discuss the issues and challenges facing our states and the solutions to address them.”

The meeting will conclude Monday afternoon, with a plenary session focused on Gov. Gregoire’s chair’s initiative, Complete to Compete. Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will join governors to discuss the importance of increasing college attainment rates for economic competitiveness and highlight options for boosting these rates with existing resources.