Texas Is Not Paying Dues to National Governor’s Group, Either

By Sean Cavanagh — June 24, 2011 2 min read
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A few days ago, EdWeek readers learned about Texas’ decision to drop out of the Council of Chief State School Officers, partly because of state officials’ objections to the organization’s backing of common academic standards.

Which leads to an obvious question: Is Texas participating in the National Governors Association, the other main group leading the common-standards movement?

The answer is no. Texas, because of financial concerns, “hasn’t been been a part of NGA for years,” said Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Rick Perry, in an e-mail.

“The governor doesn’t believe the cost to taxpayers is justifiable, when he can pick up the phone or call a meeting of governors to discuss common concerns or issues,” she explained.

The last time Texas paid its annual dues to NGA was 2002, and the fee was about $100,000, Frazier said. That was two years after Perry, a Republican, took over as governor for George W. Bush.

Visitors to NGA’s web site might be confused by Texas’ status. The site says the organization’s members are “the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths.” So what gives?

NGA spokeswoman Jodi Omear told me that the organization “considers all 55 states and territories members of NGA by virtue of being a governor of a U.S. state or territory.” Members are in “good standing” with the association when their annual dues are paid, she said in an e-mail. And only members in good standing get access to services such as technical assistance from NGA staff, grants from the association, and access to policy academies and NGA meetings.

Omear said NGA won’t reveal specific information about which individual states are paying dues, but those costs range from $22,000 to $176,200 a year, depending on the size of the state. Earlier this year, CNN reported that Texas, South Carolina, and Idaho were not paying dues, citing cost concerns.

NGA is a bipartisan organization, headquartered in Washington, which provides information and services to governors and helps them develop policy on many issues, including education. Like the CCSSO, it also presses the governors’ agenda before the White House and Congress.

Perry, who is considering a run for the White House, appears to have a more favorable view of another governors association—the Republican Governors Association. He was recently chosen as the group’s chairman.

RGA is a partisan group that seeks to help GOP governors get elected, and advises them on policy. Frazier noted that the Republican group does not require taxpayer dollars to support Perry’s involvement. And spokesman RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf confirmed that the organization collects dues from private donors, not individual states.

Photo of Rick Perry by LM Otero/AP.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.