How do you know if a website is an official page of state government? Must it end in .gov or .state.us? Residents in Florida, while searching for a way to apply for food stamps online, are stumbling onto websites that may appear to be extensions of the food stamps program but instead engage in activites that include collecting credit card numbers and charging individuals for guides that instruct Floridians on how to game the program, sometimes illegally, to signing them up for various marketing email lists.
Now that the requiem has been written for the Super Committee the question is what does “sequestration” mean for state budgets. The bottom line is that the collapse of Washington’s latest effort to set the federal budget on sound fiscal footing is a mixed bag for the states. Medicaid represents the center of gravity of the state-federal fiscal relationship, and the Super Committee’s failure to reach a compromise has spared the program from near term cuts. However, the nearly $190 billion in “discretionary” pass through grants received by state and local governments are squarely in the cross hairs of the sequestration process.
Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia recorded unemployment rate decreases in the month of October while five states posted rate increases, and nine states remained the same, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The national unemployment rate stayed about the same at 9.0 percent. Compared to a year ago, 40 states experienced unemployment rate decreases, while eight states plus D.C. saw increases, and two states had no change. The national jobless rate dropped 0.7 percentage points since October 2010.
A newly released report by a Stanford University researcher confirms what many have suspected; the educational achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families is growing.
Government transparency made the news twice in November. First, when California Governor Brown shut down California's transparency website, and again last week when Vice President Biden and the Government Accountability and Transparency Board held a meeting that was closed to the press. That board was created in June 2011 by Section 3 of an Executive Order stating "There is hereby established a Government Accountability and Transparency Board (Board) to provide strategic direction for enhancing the transparency of Federal spending and advance efforts to detect and remediate fraud, waste, and abuse in Federal programs."
On Monday, November 14, 2011, House and Senate conferees released the “minibus” appropriations report, which includes Fiscal Year 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) spending. The conference report, a consolidated appropriations bill for several agencies including the Department of Justice, provides $63 million for the Second Chance Act.