Governor Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), who made history by becoming the first woman to chair the National Governors Association (NGA) in 2006, led the 2007 winter meeting of the NGA this past week. The opening plenary session of the meeting featured Gov. Napolitano’s Innovation America initiative, a plan that focuses on innovation as a tool to improve states’ ability to compete in the global economy. “We need to out-innovate the competition to stay successful as a nation, and states are in the best position to lead the way to change,” Gov. Napolitano said.
The four-day meeting also included discussions of the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. The STEM education program is critical to Gov. Napolitano’s Innovation Initiative; she believes higher demands in math and sciences will help create an “innovation environment” in every state.
The governors also issued a call for more funding for public health care programs. The Associated Press reports that approximately 6 million people – most of whom are children – need health insurance coverage. Every state relies on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to help uninsured working families, and governors would like to see that program grow. They requested $745 million to sustain the program until October, and more resources in Bush’s new budget proposal. This funding would help preventative care, which tends to be less expensive. “You end up paying for this in other ways – uncompensated care, emergency rooms,” Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) told AP. “This is pay me now or pay me later.” In a meeting on Monday with the NGA, however, President Bush did not address public health care.