Policy Area

State education leaders strive to help students enter the workforce prepared to succeed—to be career ready. The term career readiness is used in education systems at the national, state and local levels to describe the skills, attributes and preparedness students need to enter the workforce.

Enforcing the law, safeguarding public safety, preventing crime, ensuring accountability for people who break the law, and administering all of the processes associated with this work fairly—together these efforts are known broadly as criminal justice. The data commonly used to describe the outcomes related to these efforts tell a complicated story. Take statistics on crime, for example. Do falling crime rates indicate that law enforcement agencies are doing an exceptional job at preventing crime? Or is it that crime is on the decline as a result of more people being locked up in prisons and jails in most states? And what’s happening in the few states where crime and prison populations are declining?

Voters in Colorado will head to the polls this November not only to cast their ballots for the next president of the United States, but also to determine whether they will become the only state in the nation to adopt single-payer health care.

How can state leaders build the public’s confidence in government if the citizenry doesn’t understand how state government works? Although there has traditionally been a reasonable amount taught in schools about the federal level—checks and balances; how a bill becomes a law; and so on—students learn little about the policies, politics and management of states and localities. Fortunately, there’s a growing civics education movement, at both K-12 and university levels, to expand students' understanding about the entities that most closely touch their lives. This FREE CSG eCademy webcast explores the challenges and benefits of civics education both inside and outside the classroom.

More than 20 legislators from 16 states--many of them in key leadership positions on health or budget committees that deal with Medicaid in their home states--attended a CSG policy academy in Washington D.C. on September 21-23, 2016, to learn how states are making reforms in their Medicaid program that pursue the health "triple aim": improving the quality of care for individuals, improving the health of populations, and reducing per capita costs of health care.

What do natural disasters, the sharing economy and an aging population have in common? These are all policy topics where a basic knowledge of risk management and insurance can help state leaders make better policy decisions. In collaboration with The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation, The Council of State Governments addresses these topics and more throughout a four-part webinar series designed to provide public policymakers with a greater understanding of risk management insurance through the lens of emerging issues. Part two of the series focused on property and casualty insurance.

On September 21 the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), a Department of Defense organization tasked with ensuring that service members and overseas citizens are given the tools and resources necessary to vote, released the findings of the first-ever representative survey of overseas voters who requested an absentee ballot. FVAP will use their analysis of this information to better reach and provide information to overseas voters.

Over 20 state legislators and public utility commissioners attended CSG's "Future of American Electricity" policy academy in Washington, D.C. from Sept. 21-23. One of several 2 1/2 day events put on by CSG policy staff in 2016, this event was designed to give state officials an overview of American electricity along with a deeper dive into more complex and emerging energy and electricity issues.

By Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
It may appear that efforts to adopt an evidence-based approach using data to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and fairness of law enforcement had its genesis back in 1995, when New York City kicked off work on its so-called CompStat system. In that very successful effort, geographic information systems, or GIS, were used to identify the places in the city where officers could be deployed to their best use. It worked so well that New York’s crime rates plummeted and a number of other places tried to emulate the work. But while CompStat may have been at the forefront of using technology in this way, “the history of quantitative crime analysis spans decades,” wrote Jennifer Bachner, a director in the Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced Governmental Studies. As Bachner pointed out, in 1829 “an Italian geographer and French statistician designed the first maps that visualized crime data,” including three years of property crime rates as well as education information garnered from France’s census. The maps showed a correlation between the two—more education tended to equate to less crime. Jump forward about 190 years and you’ll find that a number of states, counties and cities have been using the seemingly magical capacity of computers to advance this work dramatically.

States and businesses continue to recover from the Great Recession, and they are doing so in an environment shaped by two historic shifts related to economic and workforce development. The first is the return of manufacturing jobs to the United States and the second is new technological requirements of these jobs. While job opportunities continue to grow, today’s factories require greater levels of technical knowledge from employees. But with these new jobs come new challenges in the form of preparing a workforce equipped with the skills and competencies required for a rapidly evolving workplace—filling the critical skills gap among today’s workers as well as students preparing to enter the future workforce.

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