Capitol Comments

The advice Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño gave to policymakers about how to deal with the lingering budget crisis states are facing is similar to what one might say to a toddler trying to remove a bandage from a skinned knee.

“… Do it quickly, swiftly and go as far as you need to go in year one,” he said during Sunday’s lunch session, “Preview 2011: What’s Ahead for State Government.” “Don’t stretch this pain. Just do it as quickly as you can.”

Fortuño is no stranger to fiscal pain. When he took office in 2008, he...

The economy is starting to pick up again, but state policymakers shouldn’t get too excited.

“We can all kind of feel the economy is starting to pick back up again,” said Peter Marino, fiscal adviser to the Rhode Island Senate. “I would describe it as a vulnerable recovery.”

It isn’t encouraging when a professor from the Columbia University Law School, who specializes in redistricting, tells you that your state will almost certainly be sued when redistricting takes place across the country next year.

“You are going to get sued,” said Nathaniel Persily, the professor in question, at the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee meeting Sunday afternoon. ”That’s true. There’s going to be a lot of that.”

One of the big issues that may be generating some of the lawsuits concerns how prisoners...

It isn’t encouraging when a professor from the Columbia University Law School, who specializes in redistricting, tells you that your state will almost certainly be sued when redistricting takes place across the country next year.

“You are going to get sued,” said Nathaniel Persily, the professor in question, at the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee meeting Sunday afternoon. ”That’s true. There’s going to be a lot of that.”

One of the big issues that may be generating some of the lawsuits concerns how prisoners...

Like many women, North Dakota Treasurer Kelly Schmidt was asked to run for office. And like many women her knee-jerk response was, “What do you mean, me?”

“As a woman, sometimes we have doubts, we don’t talk very nice to ourselves,” Schmidt said. Not only that, with four sons (the youngest was nine at the time), the decision to run was as much about her family as her own career.

“I had to decide and my family was going to decide,” she said.

But Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta doesn’t...

No one really knows what’s going on in Washington, but one thing is clear.

“Washington is up to its ears in politics,” Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor for PBS’ “Washington Week,” said during Sunday’s afternoon keynote address. “They’re having a hard time in policy and a harder time keeping a grip on the reality American people have asked them to keep a grip on.”

Great nations can come crashing down in just one generation—not thousands of years as conventional wisdom dictates. That’s according to David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN and professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government where he is also director of its Center for Public Leadership.

“We’re into that caution light that is blinking at us saying, ‘watch out guys, we’re in serious trouble,’” Gergen said of America’s financial standing at Sunday’s opening session at The Council of State Governments 2010...

Negative and misleading ads seem to be the norm in political campaigns these days, but they sometimes backfire, leaving voters feeling like they have to choose between the lesser of two evils instead of voting for a candidate they feel proud of supporting. How do you strike a balance in your political messaging and make sure your message is effective?

Chad Gallagher, a 2006 Toll alum and campaign adviser to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, lead a panel discussion on crafting political messages in a Sunday afternoon...

There may have been a lot of people in the room looking at all sides of health care reform through different colored glasses, but there was one central message no matter their position.

Clement Cypra, deputy vice president for State Affairs at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), summed it up when he said, “Everybody knew that some fundamental changes had to be made and it was waiting for a political solution.”

And even though federal health care reform provided that solution—or at...

While states may be facing a tremendous challenge with the economic impact of spiraling Medicaid rolls, they can take the lead and make true changes in the cost and quality of health care.

In Saturday’s session, “Public Policymakers’ Guide to Reducing Health Care Costs,” former Michigan Medicaid Director Vernon Smith said the Great Recession has added huge numbers of people to Medicaid rolls across the country; more than 50 million people are now served by the federal-state health care program.

“Under the radar,...

Pages