Some of us have been asking Utah’s Governor Herbert to get Utah out of the NGA –National Governors Association– for years, on grounds of NGA’s unconstitutional national governing policies. But Herbert didn’t listen, nor did he quit NGA; in fact, he will ascend to its top throne –as Chairman of the National Governors Association— this summer.
People might think it could not possibly matter one way or another. But think about it.
We didn’t elect NGA’s huge membership or staff. We can’t fire anyone at NGA. NGA is not a representative Congress. NGA is not a public institution– it’s a private trade group that happens to have an official-sounding name. That name confuses people.
So, as a private club, it’s not subject to transparency laws. It doesn’t even have to allow investigators or media in to the closed-door meetings. No citizen can vote to change what NGA does. Governors can not even vote to change NGA, if they aren’t NGA members, which some very smart governors choose not to be. Last time I checked, the governors of South Carolina, Texas, Maine, Alabama, and Indiana were staunchly determined never to join the NGA, or had joined and quit. Yet NGA aims to make binding national policies without due process of representation — and it has already done so, in the case of Common Core, for example.
NGA is free to exist, as a private group, just like anyone. But as a national governing body, no. That’s unconstitutional.
Ask yourself: will the Governor be representing Utah’s interests to the NGA, or the NGA’s interests to Utah? In all the years he’s been a member of NGA, he’s always chosen to do what NGA asks of him. What does that mean to us? What happens when the goals and hopes of so many Utahns– for greater educational liberty and local autonomy— stand in direct conflict with the history and goals of the National Governors Association? Where is any recourse? Where’s citizen access to NGA?
And that’s not all. Yesterday, we saw our governor fighting to expand his job description here in Utah, too. As the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune each discussed or reported yesterday, the Governor’s plan was (thankfully) rejected by the Utah State Board of Education after the Governor’s invited the board to join him in his call for FEDERAL legislation identifying the governor as a “key” partner in education. Thank you, State Board, for having a spine and saying no.
The Utah Constitution says that the elected school board should hold the reins, but the NGA wants to change that situation– here and in every state– so that the NGA can assume a role as a national governing body over education. This is bad. This is serious.
Just as bad: Utah Representative Curt Bramble, this year, becomes president of the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) another unaccountable-to-voters private club that, like NGA, we can accurately describe as another “aiming-to-sit-in-the-Congressional-driver’s-seat” club. In fact, Bramble admitted that his private NCSL group aims to take over the role of Congress:
“Congress has been totally ineffective. They can’t seem to find agreements on both sides of the aisle to do anything, from budget to deficit reduction, immigration, marketplace fairness. You can look down a litany of issues where the states, the 50 laboratories of democracy, are finding ways to come forward with strong, bipartisan support for various polices.”
These organizations distort voters’ rights in our Constitutionally-built nation. The Constitution gives individual states the right to govern education. It also gives a few Utahns, elected to represent us in D.C., strong federal roles; so voters can have real influence at both the state and national decision-making levels, if we maintain the roles of the Constitution. This new blurring trend, pushing Governors or state legislators into pseudo-federal roles, robs us of true representation and has no business in America.