Overall, state fiscal conditions weakened in fiscal year 2016 compared to the prior year. Both revenue growth and total state spending experienced a slowdown due to numerous factors. In addition, the number of states making mid-year budget cuts was historically high outside of a recessionary period. In fiscal 2017, it is projected that both state general fund spending and revenue will grow moderately. However, since the start of the fiscal year, over half the states have had to revise their revenue projections downward due to weaker-than-anticipated tax collections. Looking forward, states are not only contending with slow revenue growth and constrained spending, but also federal uncertainty in a number of areas.
Voters decided 162 state-level ballot propositions in 2016. Voters approved 47 initiatives, the most in a single year in American history. California pulled into a tie with Oregon for the most initiatives all time. High profile issues included marijuana legalization, labor markets and capital punishment.
In a world where data drives decisions, communication is critical and customer service is a must, how do we support the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act’s most difficult-to-reach population—overseas citizens? The Federal Voting Assistance Program conducted groundbreaking research to increase its knowledge of and ability to support these voters.
State chief justices are not only the leaders of an individual appellate court, but often exercise leadership and administrative authority over an entire state’s judicial branch. How far that authority goes and how individual chief justices exercise that leadership varies and may change depending on whether the chief justice is addressing leadership of their individual appellate court or as a leader in the justice system as a whole.
It has been more than 17 years since the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, or GASB, issued its landmark Statement No. 34: Basic Financial Statements—and Management’s Discussion and Analysis—for State and Local Governments. It’s hard to believe, but true. With the release of an invitation to comment in December 2016, GASB is again turning its attention to the government reporting model, beginning with a focus on the governmental funds. This highly anticipated reporting model project addresses several potential improvements to governmental fund reporting, and the GASB believes this project will have a significant impact on the foundation of state and local governments’ accounting and financial reporting.
State and territorial attorneys general are using antitrust and consumer protection enforcement authority to address issues in the health care marketplace, as well as warning consumers about virtual currency called Bitcoin.
Without funding or resources to update outdated voting systems and software, states and localities are struggling to understand—and implement—the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s January 2017 designation of elections as “critical infrastructure.” Many states support a push to have the Trump administration rescind the executive order. Election officials that oppose the measure are concerned about the lack of federal government parameters and the possibility it will create more problems at the polls than it solves, but national intelligence officials say it’s necessary to properly secure the process against threats—particularly foreign-government cyberattacks. No matter what happens in Washington, state policymakers are asking: How can we protect and secure our voting process for the future?