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Governor O’Malley Hosts First Ever GPI Summit

Governor O’Malley meets with GPI representatives
Photo by Tom Nappi

New data shows 2 percent increase over previous year

Spearheading Maryland’s efforts to engage and educate other states on Maryland’s Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) – a measure of statewide well-being − Governor Martin O’Malley hosted a summit with stakeholders from across the nation on October 9 in Annapolis. Maryland is the national leader in the development and use of the GPI, recently announcing that new, 2011 data shows a 2 percent increase over 2010.

“Maryland’s use of the GPI has cultivated overwhelming enthusiasm among scientists and officials from across the nation for good reason,” said Governor O’Malley. “The choices we make about where we live, the choices we make about the future of our planet, the choices we make about how we commute to work, the choices we make through our government about investing in education, in innovation, in rebuilding our infrastructure – all of these things are connected… they all impact our quality of life… they all impact our ability to create jobs and expand opportunity in a changing new economy.”

The summit brought together GPI practitioners to discuss the implementation of a GPI, refine its methodology, and encourage other state governments to adopt their own GPI. The summit was funded by the Town Creek Foundation through a grant to Demos, a national organization which combines research, policy development and advocacy to influence public debate and catalyze change.

“Maryland’s Genuine Progress Indicator is a major step forward in developing a new model for measuring economic performance, one that is improving public decision-making for the challenges of the 21st century economy and for the people of Maryland,” said Lew Daly, director of the Sustainable Progress Initiative at Demos. “Governor O’Malley and his GPI team are helping to set a new standard for other states, in addition to advancing the dialogue about best practices in this rapidly emerging field.”  

The event was attended by influential decision makers from several states including Oregon’s first lady, Cylvia Hayes and representatives from New York, Oregon, Utah and Vermont.  Governor O’Malley led the meeting’s discussion; which delved in to the successes and challenges of the GPI; explored how state governments can adopt and use a GPI approach, while still considering political and bureaucratic barriers; and talked about how best to join academic, non-profit and governmental opportunities into a cohesive and useful framework.

“Opening up the lines of communication among state leaders was extremely beneficial, helping us share and learn how to best incorporate this innovative tool and utilize its valuable data to make better policy and budgetary decisions, not only internally but in partnership with other states,” said Project Leader Sean McGuire, of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Office for a Sustainable Future. 

In September the State updated Maryland’s GPI to include 2011 data. According to the new data, Maryland’s GPI grew more than 2 percent over the previous year; the highest increase since 2005. The results also revealed that total consumer spending increased by 1.58 percent.

Trends suggest Marylanders are experiencing greater overall well-being because of two major factors: A decreased cost of underemployment, (by $200 million, or 3.6 percent compared to 2010) which means more citizens are working; and a shrink in Maryland’s income inequality gap, (by $4 billion, or 2.7 percent) which marks the first time the State has enjoyed a reduced equity gap since 2008.

Governor O’Malley speaking with representatives from accross the naiton.
Photo By Tom Nappi

According to New Economics Institute, Maryland is the only state to have officially adopted the GPI, and Governor O’Malley is the first elected official to advocate for its use.  This year, following Maryland’s lead, the state of Vermont passed legislation mandating the calculation, updating and use of its own GPI. 

Governor O’Malley launched the Maryland Genuine Progress Indicator in February 2010. This innovative, online tool allows policymakers and citizens to more accurately measure the State’s standard of living by including indicators of social and environmental health along with traditional economic calculations. Developed by experts from several State agencies, the Governor’s Office and the University of Maryland, the GPI is designed to complement – but not replace – traditional economic measurements, such as the Gross State Product.

For the 2011 update, the Maryland GPI Working Group once again conducted an intensive reevaluation of the data and methodology and recalibrated several of the Indicators, resulting in a change to previous years’ calculations. The Working Group will continue to study and evaluate this data so that the GPI continues to remain as accurate as possible.

The GPI is one of  a host of innovative, interactive tools ― including GreenPrint, BayStat, StormwaterPrint and the Maryland Green Registry ― that have been developed for Maryland citizens under Governor O’Malley’s Smart, Green & Growing Initiative. The GPI, along with a helpful video that explains the indicator, is available at the State’s Smart, Green & Growing website,