Capitol Comments

The American Jobs Act, as proposed by President Obama during his speech on Thursday, includes a number of provisions that would impact states. Following the president’s proposal, the White House released a Fact Sheet and Overview that provides some basic details of the program.  

The President fired a shot across the bow of Congress last night with his $450 billion proposal to address the jobs crisis.  In a reprise of the Recovery Act of 2009 (the “stimulus”), the majority of new spending in the proposal would flow through state and local government with over $110 billion devoted to infrastructure and education alone.  However, state budget planners need not revise their mid-year predictions just yet as the bill will face a hurricane-force headwind as soon as it hits the House of Representatives next week. 

Opponents of President Obama’s health care reform act were dealt several blows yesterday by a federal appellate court in Richmond, Virginia.

The court threw out two lawsuits declaring that the plaintiffs in the case did not have standing to bring the lawsuits. The first suit was brought by Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli, who filed suit the same day the law was enacted. The second suit was filed by Liberty University, a Christian college in Lynchburg, Va.

Missouri's Amy Hestir Student Protection Act was blocked in court for being too broad.  The Act made it illegal for students and teachers to engage in private communications on Facebook, and it had the consequence of, in some cases, even preventing students who were the children of teachers from using social media to communicate with their parents.  Now Missouri is leaving social media policy to be set by school districts, allowing them to serve as laboratories for implementation. 

Staff from CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts will convene the first drafting team meeting of the Interstate Reciprocity Compact September 15-16.  CSG, in conjunction with the President’s Forum and a team of subject matter experts, will begin drafting language for an interstate reciprocity compact with the goal of enhancing the current state regulatory environment and eliminating redundancies and inefficiencies for both institutions and the states where they reside. 

The White House is conducting a conference call at 4:30 ET today, Friday, September 9 to provide additional details on the provisions of the American Jobs Act. In addition, the White House is conducting several state-specific conference calls today and on Monday on the provisions of the American Jobs Act.  

Looking for more information on the education-related provisions contained in the American Jobs Act? Education Secretary Arne Duncan and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes will host a call with education stakeholders today, Friday, September 9th, 2011, beginning at 11:30 a.m., Eastern time. To join the call: 800-288-8967; tell the operator that you're joining the "Jobs Package Education Call."

The Council of State Governments' 2011 National Conference, which will be held October 19-23 in Bellevue, Washington, is designed to provide state leaders with the opportunity to discuss state government trends, share cutting-edge solutions and debate what's next on the political horizon.

Leaders of the nation’s largest state and local associations were summoned to the White House this morning to hear a preview of the President’s forthcoming jobs address from Danielle Gray, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, and Cecilia Muñoz, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.  While the administration is trying to keep a close hold on details in advance of the speech, it is clear that the President will propose both a continuation of existing programs and new initiatives across three major policy areas: taxes, infrastructure, and unemployment assistance.

The article about golden parachutes for school superintendents appeared in Education Week. At first, however, it seemed I was reading another article about contract buyouts for corporate CEOs in The Wall Street Journal.

We have grown accustomed to seeing headlines about corporate executives who are sent packing with generous severance packages. Remember Harry Killinger, former head of Washington Mutual? After the biggest failure in US banking history at that time, he left with $44 million. And then there’s Stan O’Neal, who left Merrill Lynch after 21 years with a $165 million severance package, even as the company posted $8 billion in losses.

The dollar figures may seem pale by comparison, but some public school superintendents are leaving their jobs with hefty contract buyouts, according to Education Week. Recently, Philadelphia school chief Arlene Ackerman received a $900,000 buyout to leave her position. That doesn’t include an additional $86,000 she received for unusual vacation and sick time.