Study: Western States Gaining Political Power

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A new Brookings Institution report says economic and population grown in Nevada and four other western states are making the area a new American heartland that will carry significant political power in future years.

The study released Sunday says the growth is driven by large
metropolitan areas, including Las Vegas. Study authors say that to
ensure future success, politicians will have to build ties to the area.

The Washington, D.C.-based group says in its report that the region of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico is "growing up, flexing its muscles and distancing itself from California, which historically has had an outsized impact on the West's development."

The report said that growth in five metropolitan areas is driving the region, but the cities and government officials will need to cooperate on issues crucial to the area - transportation, immigration and others - to make sure the growth becomes a good thing for the region and the country.

"States need to be a part of the solution and Washington ought to provide very significant rewards that can help innovate ideas," said Mark Muro, Brookings' policy director for its metropolitan policy program, who co-wrote the study.

The study predicts that by 2030, the five states mentioned in the report will add three times more residents than Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana will add.

The study said Arizona will have more electoral votes than Ohio by the middle of the century.

The Brookings Institution describes itself as an independent public policy research organization.

The report did not account for recent economic woes experienced
in Las Vegas and elsewhere.

"You are clearly suffering with an inordinate subprime (mortgage) overhang, and there are significant challenges for the casino and gaming industry right now, given constraints on household disposable income," Muro said.
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Information from: Las Vegas Sun, http://www.lasvegassun.com

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-07-20-08 1843EDT


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