With talk of fiscal cliffs and sequestration cuts dominating the headlines, more than1,500 county officials from across the country gathered in the nation’s capital to demonstrate to Congress and federal officials that the nation’s 3,069 county governments provide the essential building blocks to create healthy, vibrant and safe communities. This includes supporting and maintaining key public infrastructure, transportation and economic development assets; creating and sustaining a skilled workforce to meet the needs of private industry; ensuring public health and public safety needs to protect the public; and implementing a broad portfolio of federal, state and local programs in a cost-effective and accountable manner.
“Our message to Washington was to stop making it more difficult for county government to provide for our communities, work with us – not against us,” Humphrey said. “They needed to hear us say that despite slow-recovering economy and the revenue challenges affecting all levels of government, counties are mandated by state constitution and federal law to provide essential services, and we do every day.”
Humphrey will represent NACo this year by serving on the Telecommunications and Technology Steering Committee and the Essential County Technology Sub Committee, as well as, participating in a one day NACO Technology Summit.
During the conference, NACo leadership and members met with dozens key Congressional and House and Senate committee offices on to deliver the Why Counties Matter message in person and offer to work collaboratively with their federal partners to meet the needs of the American people. Important federal issues affecting counties and communities discussed included: preserving the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds, replacing the sequestration – or across the board budget cuts and protecting the federal-state-local partnership for Medicaid.
NACo President Chris Rodgers, commissioner, Douglas County, Neb., said counties are important because the programs and services provided by counties touch the lives of virtually every American. “If you vote, drive to work, take the bus, get a flu shot, visit the library, go to the hospital, eat at a restaurant, play in the park, recycle, or call 911– you are interacting with your county government,” Rodgers said.
Also during the Legislative Conference, participating county officials heard from national leaders on issues important to counties and communities, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), journalist and author Bob Woodward and economist Mark M. Zandi.