BOS 2009


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 » State Constitutions

Chapter 2 » Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations

Chapter 3 » State Legislative Branch

Chapter 4 » State Executive Branch

Chapter 5 » State Judicial Branch

Chapter 6 » Elections

Chapter 7 » State Finance

Chapter 8 » State Management, Administration, and Demographics

Chapter 9 » Selected State Policies and Programs

Chapter 10 » State Pages

Since its implementation in 2005, Washington’s Government Management Accountability and Performance (GMAP) program has become an invaluable tool to Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire in measuring and improving the performance of state agencies.

For the past four decades, states have turned to legalization of various forms of gambling to generate tax revenues or to stimulate economic or tourism development. Legal gaming industries generated more than $92 billion in gaming revenues in 2007, with about two-thirds of that coming from commercial or tribal casinos. By 2009, lotteries had become nearly ubiquitous in the United States, and casinos are within a few hours drive of virtually every American. Internet gambling, however, is presently prohibited by federal law, and certain forms of gambling, such as sports wagering, are generally prohibited outside Nevada.

Fiscal conditions in the states began to decline in fiscal 2008. State spending and revenues grew at a lower rate than the prior year and balances were well-below their near record levels of fiscal 2007. While fiscal 2008 saw somewhat moderate declines, the fiscal situation in the states has deteriorated much more sharply in fiscal 2009. State spending is projected to be negative for the first time since 1983, balance levels are being reduced as states use reserves to address shortfalls, and recent data shows state revenues declining by 4 percent. As a result, states are likely to face a difficult budgetary environment in fiscal 2010 and beyond.

Voters approved 58 percent of the 174 ballot propositions considered in 37 states in 2008. The number of measures as well as the approval rate was down modestly from recent years. No ideological trend appeared —both liberal and conservative measures were approved. The highest profile issue was a ban on gay marriage in California. Nationwide, voters approved more than $13 billion in state bonds despite the ongoing financial crisis.

Election reform has been a consistent issue for states and Congress since the 2000 general election. After Congress created the Help America Vote Act of 2002, state legislators and Congress have offered thousands of pieces of legislation to cure the perceived problems in elections.