Workforce Development, Wages and Innovation: States are looking for innovative strategies to overhaul economic development programs and tie those strategies to workforce development goals, including worker re-training programs. That will mean identifying ways for the public, private and academic sectors to work together more efficiently to create and sustain high-paying jobs and foster an environment conducive to entrepreneurial investment. In addition, a renewed focus and commitment by the federal government on workforce development through programs like the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, or WIOA, will help drive and provide resources for state initiatives in 2016.
Modest Revenue Growth, Strategic Decisions: For states in the coming year, no news is good news when it comes to finances. For the last few years, states on the whole have seen a slow and steady increase in revenues. In the coming year, state leaders will have a little bit more breathing room when making fiscal decisions. States collected $912 billion in total tax revenues in fiscal year 2015—an increase of 5.6 percent over 2014 levels. Growth over this time was widespread—47 states reported growth—while three states, Alaska, Illinois and North Dakota, reported declines. For states reliant on natural resources, that cautious revenue growth could be derailed by volatility in the oil market. For other states, that breathing room comes with a complex set of choices: Do they shore up their savings or invest in infrastructure? In addition to decisions on saving for a rainy day and infrastructure investment, state leaders may begin taking a look at tax reform, but it is unlikely there will be huge shifts anytime soon.
In October, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, or CISA, 74-21. The bill is essentially an information-sharing bill, designed to allow companies that are hit by a hacker to share information—called “cyber threat indicators”—with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS. DHS can then put out an alert, share suspicious code and warn other firms about the threat.
The House passed its own version of the bill—Protecting Cyber Networks Act—back in April.
According to the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, current e-cigarette use (defined as use on at least 1 day in the past 30 days) among high school students jumped from 4.5 percent (660,000) in 2013 to 13.4 percent (2 million) in 2014. Among middle schoolers, use tripled from 2013-201: from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014. Currently, at least 48 states ban the sale of e-cigarettes or alternative tobacco products to minors.
After the passage of Megan's Law in 1994, state governments began imposing residency restrictions on registered sex offenders. Most of these statutes prohibit sex offenders from living within a set distance of schools or daycare centers. Some states impose additional restrictions, such as prohibiting sex offenders from living near public parks, youth centers, churches, or other places youth may congregate. Some states lack residency restriction statutes, allowing local governments to determine their own restrictions.
State-supported export promotion and foreign direct investments are now a key ingredient to state economic development strategies as state leaders recognize the importance of global markets in the creation of domestic jobs. States support international trade and investment by maintaining or contracting for overseas international trade offices that promote the state’s trade interests and facilitate trade and investment with potential international partners.1 The number of state overseas trade offices has fluctuated over the years.
Last week, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, or CISA, 74-21. The bill is essentially an information-sharing bill, designed to allow companies that are hit by a hacker to share information--called “cyber threat indicators”--with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS. DHS can then put out an alert, share suspicious code and warn other firms about the threat. Cybersecurity is not just a hot topic in Washington, D.C., but also in statehouses across the country.
According to the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, 26,000 kids age out of the foster care system each year - and it comes with a big cost. Kids who leave foster care without a permanent family are less likely to graduate from high school or college, more likely to end up homeless and young women are more likely to become pregnant before age 21. This ends up costing society an additional $8 billion for each cohort that leaves foster care. To help address some of these negative outcomes, The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which became effective in 2010, extended eligibility for benefits to foster kids beyond the age of 18 – up to age 21. Those benefits (Title IV-E) are available to young people if they are:
Last week, after Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger announced that a cash flow problem caused by a deadlock in the state’s budget negotiations would force Illinois to delay its November pension payment, Fitch Ratings--one of the “Big Three” credit rating agencies--lowered the state’s bond rating. For many states, pension reform has been achieved only after long, and often contentious, battles across all three branches of government. To help state leaders better understand how their fellow policymakers are tackling pension concerns, CSG will host a public pension and retirement security policy academy on Thursday, Dec. 10, in conjunction with the CSG 2015 National Conference in Nashville, Tenn. The session will begin with Pensions 101, an overview of pension and retirement security issues facing states.