This Blueprint for Governors is the culmination of my 2012–2013 National Governors Association (NGA) Chair's Initiative, A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities. At the launch of the initiative in July 2012, our goal was to advance employment opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities by:

• Educating both private-sector and public-sector employers

• Supporting state governments in joining with business partners

• Establishing public–private partnerships




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A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities aims to increase employment among individuals with disabilities. Specifically, my initiative will focus on the employment challenges that affect individuals with intellectual and other significant disabilities and the role both state government and business can play in facilitating and advancing opportunities for these individuals to be gainfully employed in the competitive labor market.

The statistics are sobering. Iowa's senior Senator Tom Harkin recently released a report that said: employment outcomes for persons with disabilities have not improved since 1990; that between 2008 and 2010, workers with disabilities left the workforce at five times the average rate; that the median income for these workers is less than 2/3 the median wages for other workers. Making a difference in these numbers will not be easy, but the work is important.

By this time next year, we will have created a blueprint for businesses and states that identifies best practices and outlines steps that can be put in place to increase economic opportunity and heighten awareness. It will provide governors and state policymakers with more policy options to assess the environment in their state and specific strategies designed to support this population. It doesn't matter whether someone was born with additional challenges to face or — in the case of our wounded veterans, for example — acquired them later in life. There are so many people with disabilities who have the time, talent and desire to make meaningful contributions to interested employers. What matters is what they have to offer and the tremendous impact this will have on their overall well-being and on the bottom line of the businesses that employ them.


Making Progress: Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities

February 22, 2013 — (Wilmington, DE) In his weekly message, Governor Markell shares an update on his initiative as Chair of the National Governors Association, which will be highlighted during the NGA's Winter Meeting this weekend.

A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities - Governor's Weekly Message
July 20, 2012 — In his weekly message, the Governor discusses his initiative as chair of the National Governors Association, which focuses on finding jobs for people with disabilities.

Disabilities Advocates Cheer Bill Signing
July 16, 2012 — Governor Markell signs House Bill 319, for more integrated employment of people with disabilities.

Governors Working Together - National Governors Association Meeting - Governor's Weekly Message
July 6, 2012 — In his weekly message, Governor Markell talks about the upcoming summer National Governors Association meeting, which begins Friday, July 23.


Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation's governors and one of Washington, D.C.'s most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 55 states, territories and commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices.

NGA is governed by a nine-member Executive Committee elected by all governors in attendance at their Annual Meeting. The chair position rotates annually between the two major political parties, ensuring the chair and vice chair are always from different parties. The vice chair automatically succeeds the chair at the completion of his or her term.

Beginning in 1985, each NGA chair has selected an area of focus to guide their efforts throughout the one-year term. The "Chair's Initiative" affords the chair an opportunity to lead a nationwide effort with the support and cooperation of his or her fellow governors. Through previous initiatives, governors have taken steps to make high schools more challenging and relevant to student needs, worked to reform health care systems to make them affordable, accessible and accountable for all Americans and focused on increasing innovation and technology to compete in the global economy.