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News Release

May 3, 2011      

For Further Information Contact:
William R. Steinhaus, County Executive
(845) 486-2000

Steinhaus Recaps White House Meeting with President Obama

Poughkeepsie... Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus was in Washington, D.C. meeting with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden for the County Officials Meeting held today at the White House.   County Executive Steinhaus was part of a small group of county officials selected from across the country invited to discuss county issues with the President and Vice President as well as several Cabinet Secretaries and senior White House policy staff.   The five hour meeting, which wrapped up just after 6pm this evening, focused on a wide range of issues and included diverse dialogue. 

“Today’s meeting was productive and set the groundwork for future dialogue with the President on the issues facing county governments locally.   We secured a commitment from the White House for continued dialogue and engagement with county officials,” said County Executive Steinhaus. 

Vice President Joseph Biden spoke with county officials about the economic competition the nation faces from China and the need for education innovation to compete in the global marketplace.

President Obama addressed several topics with the county officials later in the day including:

  • The national deficit and debt ceiling
  • Recent devastation from tornadoes and flooding in various areas of the country
  • Health Care reform

According to County Executive Steinhaus, the President acknowledged the key role that counties provide in the delivery of services and programs, noting that counties are in the trenches providing services directly to people.   The President stated he wanted to have “counties engaged in partnership” with the federal government to meet the core mission of serving the country.

The common theme echoed by county officials from across the nation was the concern and anxiety that as the Federal government seeks to address the deficit, more responsibility for program and service delivery will be pushed down to county governments without the accompanying funding, driving up local property taxes.

“It is critical that federal officials do not try to solve their financial difficulties by pushing the costs down to county governments,” said County Executive Steinhaus.  “That message was delivered loud and clear to federal officials today.”

Additionally, the following Cabinet secretaries participated in today’s White House County Officials Meeting:

  • Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano discussed FEMA’s response to   recent tornadoes and flooding in various areas of the country.
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius led a discussion on the growing problem of substance abuse among juveniles and the impact on the criminal justice and mental health system.
  • Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood discussed the issue of the nation’s aging infrastructure.
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan addressed housing issues across the country.
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson spoke about the need for quality, clean water for economic development and to attract business investment.

President Obama also took a moment to speak about the determination of the United States and his pride in how the nation pulls together in key moments, as evidenced with announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden.   Spontaneous applause broke out from the county officials at the President’s words.

Following the meeting, President Obama took the time to interact one on one with many county officials, including County Executive Steinhaus.   County Executive Steinhaus thanked President Obama for taking the time out of his busy schedule to meet with county officials and  exchanged a handshake with the President. 

Today’s meeting was initiated by the National Association of Counties (NACo).  County Executive Steinhaus serves on NACo’s Board of Directors representing all counties in New York State.

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