Governmental Operations

According to Melissa Maynard of Stateline, many financially stressed state and local governments are turning towards creating special districts in order to provide services. Indeed 885 special districts have been created since 2007.

According to a recent Stateline article, federal disaster aid regulations are often unclear much to the exasperation of the governors’ of the states. Consider two contrasting examples: when wildfires raged in Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer asked President Obama to declare a federal disaster, he declined. However when a plant exploded in Texas and Governor Rick Perry asked President Obama to declare it a federal disaster, Obama did so.  FEMA does have a set of guidelines for categorizing disasters but most experts say that it is unclear and often ignored.

The Great Recession had an unprecedented effect on state and local government employment, as public employment continues to decline more than three years after the recession ended. According to CSG calculations of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, state government employment reached a peak level in the middle of the Great Recession, hitting just above 5.2 million employees in August of 2008.  Since then, state governments collectively have seen a net decrease in employment in 37 out of 59 months, shedding a total of 189,000 jobs. Private sector employment, on the other hand, has seen slow but steady recovery since hitting a low in early 2010.

Chapter 8 of the 2013 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

While most states reimburse employees for work-related use of private vehicles at the federal rate set by the Internal Revenue Service, some states vary in their reimbursement rates. Thirty-six states in 2013 reimbursed public employees for work-related use of their own cars at the mileage reimbursement rate set by the IRS—56.5 cents per mile.

While most states reimburse employees for work-related use of private vehicles at the federal rate set by the Internal Revenue Service, some states vary in their reimbursement rates.1 Thirty-four states in 2013 reimbursed public employees for work-related use of their own cars at the mileage reimbursement rate set by the IRS—56.5 cents per mile.2

The number of employees in state and local governments has been declining since 2008 and represents the largest contraction of public employment in more than 30 years. The loss of jobs in the public sector would have been much more accelerated had it not been for a marked increase in federal aid—primarily the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which helped preserve a significant number of state and local jobs for several years. Those funds are now gone and, while private sector employment has been recovering slowly, many state and local governments continue to cut the number of people they employ.

Stateline Midwest ~ December 2012

Five of the nation’s 10 best-run states are in the Midwest, a study by the financial news service 24/7 Wall St. concludes, led by North Dakota and its oil-fueled economic boom.

Stateline Midwest ~ November 2012

Indiana lottery officials announced in October that they were handing over day-to-day operations of sales and marketing to a private contractor.

When Gary D. Alexander took over as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare in January 2011, he inherited a department with a $27 billion budget and more than 16,000 employees. Alexander discovered the department was fraught with waste, fraud and abuse, and regularly requested supplemental budget appropriations, Eisenhower said. To address these issues, Pennsylvania tried an enterprise-wide solution never done before in the health and human services arena. Thus began the Enterprise Program Integrity initiative, an East regional winner of The Council of State Governments’ 2012 Innovations Awards.

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