Capitol Comments

Although students at for-profit institutions represent just 12 percent of all higher education students, they account for more than a quarter of all student loans and nearly half of all student loan dollars in default, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

For-profit vocational and technical colleges have been widely criticized for allegedly targeting students who can’t afford to pay the costs of traditional post-secondary education and not providing adequate training to give students job skills they will need for careers.

"While for-profit schools have profited and prospered thanks to Federal dollars, some of their students have not. This is a disservice to students and taxpayers, and undermines the valuable work being done by the for-profit education industry as a whole," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.

So on June 1, the Obama Administration unveiled regulations requiring career college programs to better prepare students for "gainful employment" or risk losing access to Federal student aid.

Next week I’ll be in New York City for a conference on public-private partnerships (P3s for short) in transportation hosted by InfraAmericas, a news-gathering organization that provides in-depth analysis of P3s. I wrote about the conference for a recent issue of our Capitol Ideas E-Newsletter. CSG is a supporting organization for the InfraAmericas U.S. P3 Infrastructure Forum and many state officials from around the country will be among the more than 400 delegates on hand to discuss how they’re partnering or hoping to partner with private companies on important infrastructure projects. I expect to have plenty to write about when I return. But before I leave, I wanted to provide a few updates on recent developments in the world of P3s and a few links to recent reports.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I traditionally use this form to provide updates about the progress of compact legislation in the states.  Today however I wanted to take a slightly different approach.  While work is ongoing on the Surplus Lines Compact, the Higher Education Reciprocity Compact, and the Electric Transmission Line Siting Compact, we are also in the process of updating NCIC products such as our compacts database and the Connections Newsletter and are in the early stages of planning a summer webinar series. 

Yesterday 28 U.S. Senate Republicans issued a letter to federal Medicaid head Dr. Donald Berwick challenging his position that Indiana’s new law prohibiting Medicaid funding of any Planned Parenthood services is illegal under existing Medicaid federal law, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. Some pundits are suggesting that this fight is taking on a life larger even than state’s Medicaid funding – that politicians’ positions on taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood may become a 2012 election litmus test.

I must admit that when I first heard about state-based online lotteries I thought, “Okay…so do I just keep moving the mouse back and forth to scratch the virtual ticket?” Alas, I was mistaken – though that would be cool.

When I worked with students with severe behavioral disabilities in a residential setting, we used a Time Out room.  Students that broke a classroom or cottage rule and became out-of-control because of the punishment were taken to the room for a cooling off period.  Needless to say, at times that was difficult as an adult to watch a student be placed behind closed doors while they were releasing their anger.  However, according to The Washington Post, school officials at the Capital City Alternative School in Jackson, Miss. have taken discipline to a whole new level.  Reports indicate that students are being shackled to railings and poles for hours at a time for minor violations.

The National Popular Vote Compact continues to gain momentum in the current legislative session as legislatures debate the merits of a bill which aims to change the method in which the President of the United States is elected.

The Delaware House recently approved the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.  Delaware is seeking to gain a stronger voice in presidential elections given their small size and 3 electoral votes.  Although there is some debate whether Delaware’s voice would in fact gain strength if the voting procedure were changed.  Also, on Tuesday the New York Senate passed the compact and is waiting on approval from the Assembly for passage.

Tax codes empower states to raise revenue.  But they also include provisions – credits, exemptions, deductions, and so forth – that decrease the amount of money for the treasury each year.  It is for this reason that tax-side incentives are often called tax expenditures

Check out the latest Capitol Research brief on how state officials are engaging the world of social media.  The report documents the growing popularity of social media, especially among state officials, and examines leading research into how state leaders are responding to these new utilities.

Check out the complete brief in CSG's Knowledge Center by clicking here.

Like Arizona before it, Alabama has become the latest state to up the ante on illegal immigration. Gov. Robert Bentley signed the controversial measure into law today and it’s slated to take effect Sept. 1st.