A group of Southern leaders and thinkers gathered in November 2009 to develop a forward-looking agenda to create a better South. Here’s a summary:
NURTURING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION To compete in a 21st century global economy, each Southern state must increase its high school graduation rate and have 60 percent of native Southerners and new residents with post-secondary degrees, including associates’ degrees from technical colleges, by 2020.
BOOSTING WELLNESS Each Southern state should increase life expectancy to levels on par with Canada.
IMPROVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY Each Southern state should develop a state energy plan that improves per capita energy efficiency by 20 percent in 2020.
REFORMING TAXES Each Southern state should adopt or change tax structures by 2015 that expand the tax base while lowering the rate to help ensure revenue sources match or exceed the state’s growth rate in the state’s overall economy.
INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE Each Southern state must invest 90 percent of its capital budget spending on priorities identified in its infrastructure capital planning process.
CULTIVATING GOVERNANCE Each Southern state should develop and implement a benchmark citizen trust survey by 2011. By 2015, each state’s levels of trust in state government should increase by 20 percent over the benchmark.
ENSURING OPPORTUNITIES Southern states should reduce disparities in the treatment and well-being of different groups to foster a more inclusive, creative, productive and prosperous South. By 2012, each Southern state should adopt measures to drive significant reduction in identified disparities within at least five major categories.
FOSTERING SAFE COMMUNITIES Each Southern state should reduce the rates of violent crime to below the national average by 2020.