Economics and Finance

CSG South

The multi-faceted contributions of the arts and arts-related activities have not fully grasped the attention of a broad cross-section of American society. To many Americans, the arts are considered the enclave of a few high-profile cultural institutions and their elite patrons. To the contrary, beyond the intrinsic benefits of the arts—i.e., benefits that serve to enrich an individual’s life experiences, standard of living and learning—there is substantial research on the crucial role played by the arts in generating a significant level of broad-based economic growth in practically every corner of the country. Public funding for the arts suffers considerably during an economic downturn as governments cut back on spending but research demonstrates that a relatively miniscule legislative appropriation to the arts leads to economic flows that far exceed this investment.

In stark contrast to the difficult fiscal positions states such as Michigan and Ohio face—primarily as a result of the decreasing automobile sector there—the auto industry continues to flourish in the South, generating billions of dollars in economic impact and creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

CSG South

A great deal has been written about the complex and overwhelming challenges confronting the American automotive industry — mostly domiciled in the Midwest — in the last few decades. Researchers have demonstrated the rapidly shrinking portion of American-made new car and noncommercial light truck sales as a percentage of total U.S. sales: in 1997, the Big Three (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) accounted for 71 percent of new car and noncommercial light truck sales, while Asian automakers' sales totaled under 25 percent; by 2007, the Big Three's share had plunged to 51 percent while the Asian automakers' share had propelled to 42 percent. Toyota outsold GM in the first quarter of 2008 (2.41 million compared to 2.25 million) and there is speculation that 2008 will be the year when Toyota unseats GM in global sales.

Researchers have also noted the dire financial fortunes of the Big Three as they hemorrhage vast amounts of cash and battle a range of structural problems, including sizable pension and health care obligations. Concurrently, researchers have highlighted the thriving automobile sector in a number of Southern states, given the increasing number of foreign automakers establishing assembly plants in this part of the country. In stark contrast to the difficult fiscal positions of such states as Michigan and Ohio —primarily as a result of the contracting automobile sector — the industry continues to flourish in the South, generate billions of dollars in economic impact and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

In light of the negative effects of a slowing national economy, how is the industry currently faring in the South? Does it still continue to be a major player in the region's economic calculations? Learn how the automotive industry in the South is coping with the deteriorating national economy, one that is either already enmeshed or lurching very close to a recession.

CSG South

In response to dwindling federal homeland security funds, states have been forced to devise and implement a range of innovative programs to enhance their security and response capabilities. Except for some anecdotal information, to date, there is little comprehensive data on these programs. Therefore, an examination of certain innovative state programs is instructive to other states as they seek to maximize use of the federal homeland security grants awarded to them.

The first part of this report is an examination of the federal funding for state projects through the Homeland Security Grant Program from fiscal years 2002 to 2007. The second part examines the particular public safety repercussions resulting from diminished federal homeland security funding. The final section of this report is an analysis of the information received from states regarding innovative homeland security and emergency management programs enacted in recent years to contend with the cutbacks in federal funding levels.

CSG South

The Council of State Governments’ Southern office, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), has researched, reviewed and published a series of reports on the status of public retirement systems in recent years. Continuing this trend, this Issue Alert seeks to apprise policymakers in the SLC states on a recent development in states across the country: the increased scrutiny of actuarial estimates in public pension plans and their role in influencing the overall financial health of these plans.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments opposes preemption of state and local finance authority and state oversight of the debt issuance process through revision or repeal of the Tower Amendment or enactment of legislation to subject state and local government issuers to federal disclosure laws.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments supports the self-regulatory structure of the municipal market, and the commitment of all issuers of municipal securities with federal and state laws and Securities and Exchange Commission rules.

BE IT NOW RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments does hereby endorse and support the efforts of the National Association of State Treasurers to establish an effective system of returning matured, unredeemed savings bonds to their rightful owners.

Suggested State Legislation: This Act establishes requirements to notify consumers about motor vehicle manufacturer warranty adjustment programs.

Suggested State Legislation: This Act requires prohibits reselling tickets within a certain distance from the event ticket and requires ticket resellers to provide refunds when events are cancelled.

Suggested State Legislation: This Act creates a mortgage fraud statute with criminal penalties and authorizes the state Attorney General to take action to enforce the statute. The bill also authorizes a private right of action for violations of the statute in specified circumstances. Sections about seizing and disposing property involved with mortgage fraud can be found in the Maryland law but are excluded from this SSL draft.