2014 CSG National Conference

The U.S. in 2015 will chair the eight-nation Arctic Council. The WESTRENDS Board, a program of CSG West that looks at trends affecting the region, provided an opportunity for attendees to learn what the Arctic means for the West and about state and local perspectives in Arctic policy decision-making.

The CSG West Fiscal Affairs Committee provided a forum for chairs and members of budget, appropriation and revenue or tax committees in Western legislatures to exchange ideas and experiences on issues affecting state budgets. The committee addressed fiscal issues associated with the impact of the recession, state fiscal trends, taxation, business incentives, revenue forecasting and performance-based budgeting.

The CSG West Water and Environment Committee provided Western legislators a forum to discuss growing and competing demands on Western water and the environment. The committee collaborated with the Western Governors’ Association, Western States Water Council and other organizations in an effort to develop regional strategies to address Western water and environment concerns.

After years of American companies sending jobs to other countries, recent trends suggest a surge in training workers at home and keeping production in the United States. Some manufacturers are bringing jobs back from overseas, a trend that many find hopeful for our economy. New hires topped 3 million in less than 2 years, with almost 2 million new workers coming on board in 2011. This policy academy addressed education and training to support American workers so they are the best-trained workforce in the world; ensuring efficiency and productivity by workers in domestic businesses; business incentives to invest in hiring and expanding; and technical support so companies can grow and expand. 

Shortfalls in state-run retirement systems continue to grow, and in the 2012 fiscal year, the gap between promises to state workers and funding in the accounts reached $915 billion. Unfunded pension obligations can have significant implications for a state’s fiscal stability, including lower credit ratings, increased borrowing costs and the diversion of state resources away from other spending priorities like infrastructure and education. 

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