Capitol Comments

According to a new report by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, state government employment continued its slow slide in June.  From April 2009 to June 2010, state government employment decreased in 28 states, while private employment decreased in 44 states over the same time period. 

In those states with declines, rates varied significantly from a drop of 6.9 percent in Idaho to 0.2 percent in Tennessee, South Dakota and Mississippi.  In 20 states, state government employment increased, ranging from an increase of 0.2 percent in Utah to 3.5 percent in Massachusetts.  Two states – Rhode Island and Wyoming – had no change in employment.

During this same period, private employment decreased in all but six states with decreases ranging from a high of 3.2 percent in Nevada to Hawaii with a decrease of 0.1 percent. The six states with increases in private employment were Alaska (3%), Utah (0.4%), New Hampshire (0.5%), Kentucky (0.6%), Indiana (0.7%) and North Dakota (1.2%). 

Mark your calendars! The preliminary agenda for the upcoming National Conference in Providence, Rhode Island (December 4-7) is now available. Confirmed speakers (so far) include Gwen Ifill and David Gergen.

A new CSG Capitol Facts and Figures examines state cigarette taxes.

As I previously predicted, climate change legislation is dead in 2010.   Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that there will be no bill this session that would cap emissions of greenhouse gases.

Fearing that Congress is not going to approve the enhanced Medicaid match extension incorporated into the state's FY 2011 budget, Governor Sonny Perdue has ordered a 4 percent cut to state agencies starting in August.

The CSG Education Policy Team held a Common Core State Standards Policy Roundtable in Bloomington, Ill., today. The meeting was attended by State Superintendent Christopher Koch, Deputy Superintendent Susie Morrison, Deputy Chief of Staff Julie Smith from Gov. Pat Quinn's office and Jeff Mays, president of the Illinois Business Roundtable. We also had several members from higher education, PTA, the Urban League and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. Also attending were Rep. Roger Eddy - who is Superintendent of Hutsonville Schools - Representative Jerry Mitchell and Rep. Dan Brady.

The education policy team at CSG held the Common Core State Standards Policy Roundtable in Sacramento yesterday, July 20. The meeting was held in conjunction with the California Department of Education and funded with generous educational support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

CSG has completed a survey of states' adopted FY 2011 budgets and whether they count on Congressional approval of extending the Medicaid enhanced match started under the 2009 stimulus.

As the national unemployment rate hovers around 9.5% and with state unemployment rates as high as 14.2%, states are hemorrhaging money from their unemployment trust fund accounts - the funds states use to pay unemployment benefits. Every month, more states are forced to borrow from the federal government to keep those trust funds afloat and last week, the tab for states hit just over $39 billion.  

June unemployment figures were released today and states are looking a little better than they were in May.  Thirty-nine states experienced a small decrease in unemployment over last month, while five states had increases and six states reported no change in their rates.  New Hampshire had the biggest month-over-month drop, falling .50% from May to 5.9%, while Nevada and Louisiana had the biggest increases, each jumping .20% in a month. 

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