Economics and Finance

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council of State Governments calls on Congress to seize a historic opportunity and pass an adequately funded, multi-modal, multi-year transportation authorization bill to include a focus on all modes of travel as soon as possible, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council of State Governments commends Congress for transportation and infrastucture funding included as part of the ARRA but expresses disappointment that the funding was not at the level needed to make substantial progress in meeting the nation's transportation infrastructure needs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council of State Governments will seek to partner with organizations that share our philosophy about the need for historic investment in the nation's transportation infrastructure in advocacy of these issues before Congress.

CSG South

This presentation was given by Sujit M. CanagaRetna, Senior Fiscal Analyst at the SLC, on May 9, 2009, at the 2009 SLC Legislative Service Agency Spring Meeting in Miami, Florida. Both the presentation and the remarks are included here.

A vital tool for policymakers across the region, Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) offer a snapshot of conditions on a number of issues. Published annually, the CDRs track a multitude of revenue sources, appropriations levels, and performance measures in Southern states, and provide a useful tool to state government officials and staff. CDRs are available for adult correctional systems, comparative revenues and revenue forecasts, education, Medicaid, and transportation.

CSG South

This presentation was given by Sujit M. CanagaRetna, Senior Fiscal Analyst at the SLC, to the Mississippi House of Representatives in Jackson, Mississippi on March 5, 2009.

Broadly, this presentation comprises five interconnected parts.  Part I explores the impact of recent market losses on state retirement systems.  Part II reviews why it is important for policymakers to focus on the financial position of state retirement systems.  Part III looks at where we stand in terms of state pensions and Part IV provides a snapshot of several key developments related to these plans.  Finally, Part V describes the various strategies deployed in states across the country to bolster their pension systems.

CSG South

This presentation was given by Sujit M. CanagaRetna, Senior Fiscal Analyst at the SLC, at The Council of State Governments Leaders’ Meeting on February 21, 2009, in Washington, D.C. Both the presentation and remarks are included here.

CSG South

The Black Belt is a string of counties that stretches from east Texas, through the deep South, and up into eastern Virginia. While definitions vary, the region typically is considered to encompass upwards of 623 counties across 11 states, mostly rural, crossing several smaller regions, including parts of the Mississippi Delta, Coastal Plain, and the Piedmont. Booker T. Washington famously used the term “black belt” in his 1901 work Up from Slavery, noting the earliest meaning may have been a reference to the dark, rich soil of the region, but also acknowledging the later racial distinction of where black residents exceeded whites.

The Black Belt also is home to more poverty, substandard housing, unemployment and underemployment than any other region in the country. Educational attainment is lower in the Black Belt as well, particularly among the black population, and there is an exceptionally high number of female-headed households. Financial institution penetration in the region is low, even when compared to other rural communities. Health services are sparse and the ratio of residents to primary care providers is unusually high. Each of these factors contributes to the next and creates a circle of interdependence that is confounding in its complexity.

This Regional Resource examines some of the key obstacles to access to capital in the Black Belt, as well as emerging financing tools that may help this often-overlooked region. It also discusses ways in which state government can foster greater investment in this part of the country, and highlights a handful of successful programs that may serve as examples.

CSG South

September 2008 proved to be the start of an extremely stressful period for the U.S. economy with a series of decisive events unrelentingly battering American consumers, corporations and every level of government. Early on in the month, the U.S. Treasury Department assumed conservatorship over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the beleaguered for-profit, shareholder-owned companies that were required by government charters to provide low-cost capital to secondary mortgage markets. Soon after, Lehman Brothers, the 158-year old investment bank founded in Montgomery, Alabama, filed for bankruptcy. Then, within weeks, we witnessed the collapse of several other storied American financial institutions.

These disturbing events and the initial defeat of a financial bailout plan sponsored by the Bush Administration in the U.S. House of Representatives in late September caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA or the Dow) to careen 778 points downward, the Dow’s largest, single day drop in history. Not only did the 2008 losses extinguish $7 trillion in shareholder wealth, the declines were even more pronounced since they extended into almost every industry with renowned blue-chip companies such as General Motors, Citigroup and Alcoa losing more than 70 percent of their value and all but two of the 30 DJIA industrials (Wal-Mart and McDonalds) falling by more than 11 percent.

How do all these seemingly disparate trends impact state finances? This Special Series Report hones in on the extent to which the 16 SLC state revenue inflows were reliant on the housing and construction sectors between fiscal years 2002 and 2008, sometimes directly and, other times, indirectly. The comparison of revenue data for this seven-year period will facilitate a review of not only the gradual ebb and flow of these categories but also the sharp fluctuations in revenues, including the steep drop-offs experienced in several states that were particularly reliant on the housing and construction sectors for their overall economic performance.

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments encourages Congress to amend the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act to:

1. Apply UMRA’s cost estimation requirements to legislation that alters the conditions for receiving already existing federal grant assistance such as Medicaid and federal grants under the No Child Left Behind Act.

2. Expand the scope of cost estimates to include indirect costs imposed by new legislation and rule making such as lost revenue.

3. Remove the exception for mandates issued by independent regulatory agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

4. Remove the current exception for urgent federal regulations issued without prior notice by requiring cost estimates to be issued for such urgent rule making decisions within six months after their adoption.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments opposes the State Video Tax Fairness Act of 2007 (H.R. 3679) and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that CSG calls upon the Congress to resist this unjustified interference into state efforts to create a tax neutral choice for consumers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to all members of the 111th Congress and the 44th President of the United States.