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

Thirty nine states elect some or all of their judges. In 2008, the trend continued toward costly and negative campaigns dominated by the efforts of interest groups rather than the candidates themselves. Local elections in three states gave comfort to proponents of non-contestable races but prospects for state level changes remain unclear.

Budget crises associated with the general economic downturn overshadowed other issues confronting the state courts. Judicial branches developed objective measures of their efficiency, accessibility, and fairness to demonstrate their accountability for how public funds are spent. Courts also helped lead interbranch efforts to confront problems like mortgage foreclosures and child abuse and neglect.

State courts are improving public service by adopting the CourTools Access and Fairness survey to gather the views of court users. Key issues of access to court services and fairness in court proceedings are highlighted.

In an age when information on just about anything is available with the click of a mouse, it is not surprising that governments are using technology to share financial data in the name of accountability and transparency. Accountability and transparency are essential components of what most would consider to be good government. But it also raises some questions. For instance, just because information can be made available, is it by default valuable or meaningful? Is data timeliness or accuracy more important? Can information shared by our governments for the sake of fiscal responsibility put us at risk? Transparency projects being implemented by the federal government and by states around the country are providing some answers to those questions.

State treasurers are responsible for providing independent oversight of public funds. They manage resources to meet state financial obligations and professionally invest money that is not immediately needed. Treasurers have numerous additional duties, including pension fund governance, administration of unclaimed property and college savings programs, and issuance of state debt. In these and other areas, they serve as guardians of the public purse.