Capitol Comments

The FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report for 2010, in its preliminary findings, reports a 5.5% decrease in violent crime and a 2.8% decrease in property crime nationally (when compared with 2009 figures). And in 2009, these categories were down 5.5% and 4.9%, respectively.
 

Despite overwhelming support among Illinois legislators and lavish praise from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a landmark education reform bill has failed to quiet some critics.

New reports out in recent weeks detail how the United States is falling behind other countries in infrastructure improvement, offer “taxpayer-friendly” solutions for the nation’s transportation challenges, explain how highway infrastructure spending is connected to the larger U.S. economy and examine tax provisions for financing infrastructure. Here’s a rundown.

I kid you not.

A top CDC emergency preparedness official posted to the CDC website instructions on what to do in the case of a zombie apocalypse. Dr. Ali S. Kahn also provided background information on zombies, their origination and the major media coverage of zombies.

On May 10, the Missouri House gave final approval to HB 73, requiring drug testing of adults who receive cash assistance under the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. The bill goes on to Governor Jay Nixon. He has 15 days to decide whether to sign or veto the bill.

A new report from Milliman, Inc., a consulting and actuarial firm, shows total health care costs are $19,393 for the typical American family of four covered by a perferred provider organization. In 2002, the same family's overall costs were $9,235. These totals include the employer and employee shares of health care costs.

Indiana became the fourth state to join the Surplus Lines Insurance Multistate Compliance Compact when Gov. Mitch Daniels signed SB 578 into law yesterday.  The bill was originally sponsored by Reps. Matt Lehman and Craig Fry.  Indiana joins Kentucky, New Mexico, and North Dakota in SLIMPACT, which is also being considered in at least 10 other state legislatures around the country. 

Last week I blogged about a recent forum in which transportation and infrastructure experts came together to discuss how to move the conversation forward on addressing the nation’s infrastructure needs. One of the consistent themes throughout that meeting involved the need to put greater emphasis on performance metrics to assure the public and their representatives in government that investments in infrastructure are being well spent and having the kind of impact they hope in areas like economic development. Well there’s a new report out today from The Rockefeller Foundation and the Pew Center on the States that assesses the capacity of all 50 states to use those kinds of metrics to identify just what they’re getting for their transportation dollars.

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a report today that examines the probable impact of the Congressional proposal to make Medicaid a block grant program. The report estimates  federal government spending on Medicaid would fall by $1.4 trillion (34 percent) in the decade between 2012 and 2021.

However, these federal budget savings come at the expense of states. By 2021, states would receive $243 billion less annually in federal Medicaid money than they would under current law, a 44 percent reduction.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a forum outside Washington, D.C. entitled “Changing the Conversation: Advancing a National Infrastructure Improvement Agenda.” The American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Planning Association and other organizations brought together nearly 100 attendees from the business, academic, government, advocacy, public utilities, transportation, planning and research communities to discuss what might be needed to overcome significant communication barriers and make the case for infrastructure investment in the United States. Here’s a rundown of some of the ideas I heard at the meeting, as well as some worthwhile links to the resources of some of the organizations seeking to move the dialogue forward.

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