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John Celock
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GOP Governors Blame Obama For State Economic Woes At Summit

Posted: 04/24/2012 1:30 pm Updated: 04/24/2012 1:55 pm

Three Republican governors used a Tuesday morning press conference at a regional summit of the National Governors Association to blame President Barack Obama for states' economic woes.

The governors of Nebraska, Iowa and Michigan claimed at the association's regional economic summit in Omaha that the Obama administration's polices have hampered state economic growth, particularly in the Midwest. The gubernatorial trio did not, however, try to boost Mitt Romney's presidential campaign but instead touted their attempts to address state economic policies.

"There is a huge uncertainty coming from the federal government," Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman said.

Heineman blamed the Obama administration's tax and regulatory policies, along with the Affordable Care Act, for states' economic development problems, saying the federal actions have caused companies to refrain from creating jobs. "Those three things are creating uncertainty at the federal level," Heineman said. "That is why you are seeing more cash sitting on the sidelines."

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad specifically targeted the new health care reform law, saying he would like to see the Supreme Court overturn the legislation or for it to be rewritten. The law would add more people to state Medicaid rolls, causing problems for state budgets, Branstad claimed. Plus, the federal tax rate is prompting corporation officials to consider moving their firms to Canada, he said.

Branstad also took aim at proposed federal environmental regulations for coal power plants, which he said are part of the lifeblood of the Midwest economy. He also raised questions about U.S. Department of Labor regulations governing children's work on farms. Farmers not government employees should be deciding agricultural labor policy, Branstad said.

"You learn a good ethic working on a farm," Branstad said. "If you can't work with livestock on your grandfather's farm -- We have bureaucrats making these decisions."

The NGA's regional economic summit in Omaha is the fourth of a series being held nationwide and part of Heineman's initiative as chairman of the association to focus on state economic growth. At its July annual meeting in Williamsburg, Va., the association plans to release policy proposals and a list of best economic practices for states. Those attending previous regional summits -- including state economic development officials and corporate leaders -- have helped shape the proposals. Democratic governors appeared at prior summits but not at this one in Omaha.

On Tuesday, Heineman, Branstad and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder expressed their support for tax and regulatory reform at the state level, education improvements for kindergarten through grade 12, and partnerships with colleges and universities for economic growth and investment in science, technology, engineering and math education.

Snyder -- who is facing his second recall threat in two years -- devoted much of his prepared remarks to championing his record since taking office in January 2011. He claimed to have decreased Michigan's unemployment rate and created new jobs in his state.

For his part, Heineman celebrated Snyder's role in Lansing. "He is one of the best new governors in the country," Heineman said.

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