Delores McQuinn knew her city of Richmond, Va., had challenges with access to healthy foods well before she was elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates in 2008. “This little kid … would come to my house almost every other day to see if we had food for (him) and his siblings," she said. I realized … that there were some serious issues of people having access to food.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as a census tract with a substantial share of residents who live in low-income areas that have few grocery stores or healthy, affordable food retail outlets.

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, an increasing number of states, including several in the SLC region, are focused on increasing accountability and transparency in the disbursement of taxpayer dollars. Performance-based budgeting—which focuses on efficiency and effectiveness in outcomes—has emerged as a viable tool for states looking for an alternative to routinely funding government operations on a pro forma basis. This webinar provided an overview of performance-based budgeting and highlighted measures initiated in Oklahoma and Mississippi to implement this spending strategy.

 

Economics webcast

As rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft are changing America’s transportation landscape, so too are they impacting state policy as legislators try to address insurance-related issues that have arisen around these services. This free eCademy webcast offered an essential briefing on the emerging insurance-related regulatory and legislative landscape surrounding these services. This eCademy session was part of a collaboration between CSG and The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation to inform state officials on insurance issues, while maintaining a commitment to an unbiased, nonpartisan and academic approach to programming.

 

Sixteen states have passed laws explicitly authorizing needle exchange programs, and there are a number of states with statutes that either decrease barriers to the distribution of clean needles or altogether remove syringes from the list of drug paraphernalia. Additionally, a recent HIV outbreak in the small town of Austin, Ind., has led more states to consider authorizing such programs.

Rural communities in the South continue to face serious challenges in getting highly educated students to return home after college graduation. Research indicates that education may be a cause and effect for this rural “brain drain” phenomenon, and also the key to reversing the trend. Studies have shown that efforts to improve rural education contribute to rapid economic development in those areas, while a more educated community can serve as a catalyst for business expansion and increased civic engagement. This complimentary webinar, presented by CSG South/SLC, highlights the impact of education on rural development and examines initiatives in rural communities to entice educated former residents to return and invest in their hometowns.