Jennifer Burnett

Author Articles

In the face of an economic recession and budget constraints, states are finding it more difficult to provide a constitutionally mandated public defense attorney for indigent criminal defendants.

An $11 million shortfall in North Carolina’s Office of Indigent Defense budget could have a ripple effect throughout the state’s criminal justice system.  Public defenders handle about 32 percent of indigent cases, and the Office of Indigent Defense Services contracts with private attorneys to handle the rest. But the 2011 fiscal year shortfall puts that legal service in jeopardy.

Would you like to know how the condition of your state’s bridges compare to those of neighboring states? Or how affordable the housing is in your state compared to states with similar characteristics?  States Perform—a new Web site from The Council of State Governments—will help you do just that. States Perform provides access to interactive information on how states are performing across six key policy areas: education, public safety and justice, energy and environment, economic and fiscal policy, health and human services and transportation.

Unemployment rates remain high and people are unemployed for longer, exhausting state unemployment trust funds quickly.  More states are borrowing from the federal government to cover costs, which could have an impact on future fiscal stability.

Measuring how well states are performing is increasingly important as states face shrinking revenues and rising demand for services.  Citizens want and expect results from their governments, even in the face of fewer resources.  Measuring performance and using performance data to strategically place resources is key to implementing the accountable, transparent and results-focused governance policies that citizens demand.  Comprehensive, state-wide performance management initiativesare one of the newest strategies states are taking to ensure services are delivered efficiently and outcomes are being achieved. 

State eNews, Issue #46, May 11, 2010

While some economists believe the national economy began its recovery last year, it will likely take years for states to see any respite from the economic storm wreaking havoc on revenues and fiscal stability. In the meantime, states have to figure out how to balance their budgets using controversial tax increases and program cuts—leading to intergovernmental disagreements, legal challenges and special sessions.

Over the past decade, governments at all levels have increased tracking results of government services—from the federal tracking of social benefits to states closely monitoring child protective services to cities filling potholes. No attempt has been made, however, to launch a comprehensive effort to compare state service outcomes in multiple services. This report provides data and analysis of outcome measures in the area of public assistance as part of the State Comparative Performance Measurement Project.

State eNews Issue #44 | April 15, 2010

State revenues are down while the demand for services is up—leaving states in a very precarious position as they tackle their 2011 fiscal year budgets. The upcoming fiscal year will be “the most difficult to date,” according to a survey by the National Governors Association.

State eNews Issue #42 | March 17, 2010

States are counting on Congress passing a six-month extension to the enhanced Medicaid matching rates originally enacted in the federal stimulus package. That increased matching amount—worth around $25 billion to states—is currently set to expire Dec. 31, 2010.

The cost of medical malpractice litigation can contribute significantly to health care costs. States are leading the way with tort reform experimentation, seeking ways to curb soaring health care expenses. 


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