The new chairman of the National Governors Assocation said Friday that it is government’s duty to look beyond geographic borders and partisan politics so it can embrace the potential that new technologies hold for society.
To make the most of these opportunities, governors should “innovate without regard to politics or partisanship,” Gov. Brian Sandoval, R-Nev., said as part of his 2018 State of the States address for the NGA in Las Vegas. Sandoval’s chosen initiative as chairman is called “Ahead of the Curve,” which encourages states to explore how they can respond to emerging technologies in the energy and transportation sectors.
“Together we are singularly focused on one mission: advancing economic and social opportunities for the people of our states to improve their quality of life. Innovation has always been driven by the individuals who push the envelope and are willing to take a risk,” Sandoval said.
Though states have had to become more self-sustaining in recent years as funding from the federal Highway Trust Fund has become less reliable, Sandoval urged states not to disengage from Washington with regard to transportation projects.
Congress is now talking through ways to ensure that the HTF does not become insolvent, and with President Donald Trump naming infrastructure funding a legislative priority for 2018, at least some legislators have expressed confidence that a solution will be found. A key talking point is whether fuel taxes should be raised to support the fund, which would be the first such hike since the mid 90s.
After attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Sandoval said he was reminded that many technologies now poised to transform the world — like drones, autonomous vehicles, flying taxis — only existed in science fiction until fairly recently.
Sandoval called for all levels of government to support the needs of emerging transportation technologies like electric, autonomous and connected vehicles.
“Like the states, our federal partners must match the rapid pace of autonomous technological innovation with corresponding vehicle safety standards or other binding national safety requirements,” Sandoval said.
States are also working to integrate data from autonomous vehicles to transform policy, Sandoval said, but reminded the audience that state and local government must ensure that the infrastructure is there to support those vehicles.
Sandoval was joined by NGA Vice Chairman Steve Bullock, who echoed the call for bipartisan work in technology.
“It is critical for our states, and for our country, for governors of all political stripes to collaborate and find ways to seek common ground,” said Bullock, a Democrat who is governor of Montana.
Technology and innovation allow government leaders the opportunity to apply new paradigms to old challenges, Bullock said.
“It is our shared responsibility as governors to continue to harness that innovation and all the other tools at our disposal to make sure our states and our citizens are able to grow and thrive,” Bullock said.