[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[January 29, 1995]
[Pages 110-112]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at the National Governors' Association Dinner
January 29, 1995

    Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the White House, 
again for many of you and for the first time for some. This is always 
one of my favorite evenings of the year, one of Hillary's favorite 
evenings, a chance to see old friends and think about old times and look 
to the future.
    Two years ago, when I had the opportunity for the first time to host 
this dinner, after having been on the other end of it for 12 years, I 
pledged to you that I would take the experiences that we had shared 
together and strive to form a new partnership with the Governors and 
with the States. After 2 years, I think it's fair to say that we have 
made good on that pledge.

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And tonight, I want to renew that pledge as we debate the astonishing 
range of opportunities and challenges that are ahead of us.
    I also want to thank those of you who have gone out of your way to 
give me the opportunity to make good on the pledge when you thought we 
were slipping a little. [Laughter] And I want to thank those of you who 
have acknowledged what you thought we were doing right. In particular, 
two of the Governors, not of my party, who went through the line tonight 
and complimented the partnership of the Federal Government and various 
agencies, I appreciate very much.
    I think every American now wants Government to expand opportunity 
and to shrink bureaucracy, to empower people to make the most of their 
own lives, to enhance our security but not to do those things which it 
ought not to do. Working in partnership with us, many of you have 
pioneered ways to reform health care and to reform welfare, free of 
Federal rules and regulations which had previously encumbered you. We 
have done our part to be good partners. We have reduced the deficit; we 
have reduced the size of the Government; we have reduced regulation in 
important areas.
    We have also done what we could to improve our performance. I cited 
in the State of the Union, and I cite again, something that those of you 
who have had the misfortune to have disasters know, which is that the 
Federal Emergency Management Agency and all those who work in the 
disaster area, the Department of Transportation, HUD, and others, are no 
longer a disaster when disaster occurs. They are there working in 
partnership with you, and we want to do more of that.
    In that spirit now, we begin a new year of debates, working on 
welfare, perhaps the most important thing we can do from the point of 
view of all the people of all of our States, without regard to party or 
region or race or income. We had a very, very good meeting yesterday 
with a bipartisan group of Governors, local officials, Members of 
Congress, and I thank those of you who participated.
    The Vice President will also be presenting a second round of 
reinventing Government proposals which will cut further spending and 
reduce the Federal role and give more responsibilities to the State. And 
as you know, we are proposing a tax relief package which focuses 
primarily on education and giving people tax reductions in return for 
educating their children and themselves.
    I hope as we go forward, we can agree on the things which we don't 
think the Federal Government should be doing. And I hope we'll also be 
agreeing on some things we think we should do. There is a plain national 
interest in protecting the essential needs of the children of this 
country. We clearly can do some things right in a nonbureaucratic, 
creative way. And I think the best example of that is AmeriCorps, our 
national service program, which has worked closely with many of you in 
this room tonight.
    I want to close by saluting your distinguished chair, Governor Dean, 
and Judy, and all of you for all you have done. For those of you who 
have worked with Hillary and with me over the years and with the members 
of our Cabinet, particularly those who are former Governors--and I see 
Governor Babbitt and Governor Riley here--let me say that there is no 
more rewarding experience than being able to reach across the lines that 
divide us to feel that we are really making a difference in peoples' 
lives, that we are giving the American people a government that is 
leaner but not meaner, one that really does help them make the most of 
their own lives. I think that's why we all got into this work, and if 
we'll just keep that in mind, I think when we're all done, we'll be very 
    I'd like to propose a toast to the chair of the National Governors' 
Association and to his fine wife and to all the Governors and their 
spouses tonight.
    To the Governors and their families: Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 8:41 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the 
White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont, 
chair of the National Governors' Association, and his wife, Judith.

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