Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Strategic Issues Program to study the future role of state governments

Jim Griesemer

Jim Griesemer announces the Strategic Issues Program's 2009-10 focus at a news conference at the Colorado state Capitol.

The University of Denver’s Strategic Issues Program (SIP) has assembled a panel of 21 experts in industry, advocacy, government and academia to develop recommendations for state government operations in the 21st century, Program Director Jim Griesemer announced Aug. 11.

During a news conference at the Colorado state Capitol in Denver, Griesemer said virtually all state constitutions were developed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Over time, the relationships between state, municipal and federal governments have evolved. And now, in the 21st century, states are saddled with myriad roles and are struggling in difficult economic times.

“The question is, ‘How do states deal with this new normal?’” Griesemer said. “Are there some things states are doing that they just don’t need to do?”

The panel will meet about twice a month through February to hear from leaders in virtually every aspect of state government operations. The first panel meeting will be Aug. 12, when panelists will hear from Charlie Brown, director of the DU Center for Colorado’s Economic Future, and Todd Saliman, director of the Colorado Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting.

Brown’s center was asked by the state Legislature to examine Colorado’s revenue streams and funding mechanisms this year. The report is due to lawmakers by February.

Griesemer said that while the SIP panel will look at state revenues, its recommendations will address a broader spectrum of issues.

“There is a much more interesting and important question to address, and that is, ‘What is the role of state governments?’” Griesemer said. “If one were starting over, what would a state government do?”

Griesemer said the final report and recommendations will be available to policy leaders, lawmakers and the public next summer. The report is expected to address what services states should provide, what roles could be privatized and what roles could be shared with nonprofits and faith-based organizations. Nothing is off the table, he said.

“The panel has the luxury of working outside the box,” he said. “It’s a pretty large and pretty ambitious undertaking.”

The study is the fifth large-scale effort tackled by an SIP panel. Previous studies have examined and made recommendations on immigration, water use, and the state’s economic future.

Chancellor Robert Coombe said this year’s study will cover an extremely broad issue and have the freedom to pursue and examine whatever issues affect state governments.

“It’s going to be a fascinating, fascinating year,” he said.

A complete list of public meetings and a full list of speakers and panelists will be online at www.du.du/issues beginning Aug. 12.


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