Federal officials could take some lessons from the success of many state leaders in developing responsible budgets, according to former elected officials and others at a recent panel discussion in Washington.
“There is something about being a governor that seems to force hard choices that don’t always happen in Congress,” said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition, which presented the discussion in connection with its 2015 Economic Patriot Award ceremony.
In addition to the award winners — former Indiana governors Mitch Daniels and Evan Bayh III — the other panel members were Michael Castle, a former Delaware governor; Tim Penny, a former Minnesota congressman, and Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
State constitutional or statutory provisions help keep many state budgets on track, but panel members pointed to other factors as well.
In Castle’s view, for example, most state officials ultimately understand the need to “sit down and work out your differences.” Penny said interest groups have a smaller role at the state level, making compromise easier.
The panelists expressed general disappointment at Washington’s failure to address key fiscal, economic and demographic challenges.
But MacGuineas said she was encouraged by the positive public response to First Budget, a joint initiative by Concord and her Fix the Debt organization to spotlight fiscal challenges in the presidential campaign.
Video of Award Ceremony and Panel Discussion