Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, the 2014 Council of State Governments national chair and a 2002 CSG Toll Fellow, selected “State Pathways to Prosperity” as his chair’s initiative. He believes states can play a role in helping to ensure residents have the necessary skills to fill the jobs. The initiative focuses not only on education, but also on other issue that might affect an individual’s ability to work.

In an era of constrained capital budgets and escalating expenses associated with transportation project construction, policymakers may be tempted to consider only the short-term, upfront costs of those projects with little thought about their future costs. But improving long-term decision making will require planners and policymakers to begin thinking more about maintaining and operating transportation assets over time and factoring the accompanying costs into their planning. This eCademy highlights a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Eno Center for Transportation, including policy innovations recommended at the federal, state and local levels for expanding the use of life cycle cost analysis to more accurately reflect the actual costs of transportation investments.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to release a new National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone. Based on recommendations from EPA’s science advisers and staff, the EPA is expected to announce a more stringent standard, likely in the range of 70 to 60 parts per billion, down from the 2008 standard of 75 parts per billion. A more strict ozone requirement could be a challenge for some states and counties to attain, generating areas of noncompliance around the U.S. accompanied by a hefty price tag. This CSG eCademy session offers federal, state and industry perspectives on the complexity of meeting lower ozone emission standards and the associated costs.

The language of workforce development is changing and the federal government’s shift in focus presents both some big opportunities and challenges for states. In July, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act—also known as WIOA. It was a reauthorization of the legislation formerly known as the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. The act requires regional and statewide collaboration between workforce development programs, industry leaders and educators. Each state will be required, beginning July 1, 2016, to submit a four-year unified strategy that identifies skills gaps with employers and how the state is going to close those gaps.

by Leon T. Andrews, Jr.
President Obama in February launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative that focuses on improving outcomes and opportunities for boys and young men of color. My Brother’s Keeper is not a new government program, but an initiative that builds on the momentum in communities across the country to improve life outcomes for boys and men of color.