President Clinton told the nation's governors Tuesday he plans to consolidate 271 federal programs into 27 "performance partnerships" in his upcoming budget, giving states more authority to spend federal dollars.
Clinton, himself a former governor, made the announcement as part of a promise of greater cooperation with the governors who are poised to assume larger responsibilities with the promised downsizing of the federal government.Clinton said his administration, under the guidance of Vice President Al Gore's "reinventing government" effort, planned to "consolidate 271 programs into 27 performance partnerships."
The effort began Tuesday with the announcement by Transportation Secretary Federico Pena of 35 new infrastructure projects in 21 states that Clinton said would "mobilize almost $2 billion in investment capital to build roads, bridges and other infrastructure, relying on trust and accountability, not rules and bureaucracy.
"In the budget I'm submitting to Congress, I will propose turning this approach into national policy by building performance partnerships with state and local governments," Clinton said. The fiscal 1996 budget will be released Feb. 6.
"We want to consolidate categorical funding and call on you to take responsibility for meeting the performance standards.
"We have to trust you, our partners, to make the right choices in spending public funds. And even though you'll have more flexibility to solve your problems, you must be held accountable for how you spend the federal money," he said.
Clinton, saying he had "spent too many years of my life around this table to have forgotten what I learned there," won a standing ovation from the closing session of the annual meeting of the National Governors' Association. He pitched the new effort after briefly outlining a new plan to stabilize the Mexican peso.
The president already has announced one "performance partnership" for education and job training as part of his proposed Middle Class Bill of Rights, consolidating 70 separate programs for retraining efforts. The administration also has proposed consolidating 108 health programs into 16 of the partnerships.