BOS 2011


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

Medicaid, the largest health insurance program in the nation, is jointly financed by state and federal governments. The federal government establishes matching rates for each state each year, setting the percentage of overall costs paid by the federal government—between 50 and 83 percent—based on a state’s per capita income compared to the nation’s per capita income. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided all states with enhanced matching rates for their Medicaid programs in recognition of the fiscal issues states faced in the Great Recession.

State treasurers provide professional financial management and accountability for a variety of public funds. These include general operating funds and special funds such as unclaimed property programs. They also borrow money through the municipal debt market to finance state projects.

Faced with severe budget deficits across the nation, state governments are making difficult, if not impossible, choices when it comes to cutting services for their residents. Like most functions within state government, emergency management is feeling the brunt of this brutal environment. On one side are the economic constraints. On the other is the reality of disasters, which don’t care about budgets and whether resources are available or not. Only one constant remains—if a disaster occurs, citizens expect an adequate level of public resources to manage the disaster. Every well-managed disaster teaches the benefits of a comprehensive capability. Effective and exercised evacuation plans remove people from harm’s way. A fully functioning tsunami warning system saves lives. Rigorous building codes mean fewer deaths and lower costs for expensive reconstruction and debris removal after a devastating event. For the foreseeable future, the challenge for emergency management is balancing these conflicting realities while meeting the responsibility of saving lives and protecting property.

In recent years, the movement of women into state-level offices has slowed following several decades of gains. Following the 2010 elections, the number of women in both state legislative  and statewide elective office declined. Efforts to actively recruit women for elective and appointive positions will be critical in determining what the future holds for women in state government.

As state leaders came together to hammer out their 2012 fiscal year budgets, they faced a challenging task: Find a way to close huge budget gaps while facing an increased demand for services like unemployment benefits. Sustained high unemployment rates, long-term unemployment and unsustainable funding models have exhausted state unemployment trust funds, requiring states to borrow large sums from the federal government. As of March 2011, 31 states had borrowed more than $42.5 billion from the federal government to continue paying unemployment benefits, and sizable interest payments on those loans come due in the fall of 2011. Paying back those loans with interest will be a struggle and could have an impact on both economic recovery and future fiscal stability.