Lisa McKinney

Author Articles

States that received a portion of the $35 million in federal funds awarded last fall through the Workforce Innovation Fund, or WIF, are starting to put their proposed program innovations into action to modernize the way they get people the training and assistance they need to obtain family-supporting jobs and develop a strong workforce for local businesses. In September 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded WIF grants to five states—Connecticut, Minnesota, Kansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania—and one inter-tribal council to integrate their workforce systems through approaches consistent with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, or WIOA. Three of those states—Kansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania—shared how they are working to develop systems to support job seekers in a holistic manner and connect them with employers through interdepartmental and industry partnerships.

The June 16, 2015, Boston Globe headline that the state Medicaid program—called MassHealth— needlessly spent half a billion dollars was alarming to both supporters and critics of the $10.8 billion program.

State Auditor Suzanne Bump, first elected to office in 2010, concluded in the audit report that $233 million was spent unnecessarily when MassHealth paid providers directly for services that should have been paid by managed care organizations that receive a set amount to cover health care costs for their members. Another $288 million could have been saved if the MassHealth contracts with the managed care organizations were clearer about what services should have been covered.

In September 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that threats to the greater sage-grouse had been sufficiently reduced to avoid listing the bird as a protected species under the Endangered Species Act. The decision hinged on a major conservation effort involving cooperation between the federal government, state agencies, private landowners and other key stakeholders across the bird’s 11 state, 173-million acre range. According to Jerimiah Rieman, natural resources policy director to Wyoming Gov. Matthew Mead, this effort was “the single largest species conservation effort undertaken in the world at any point in time.”

Did you read today’s issue of the Federal Register? Odds are that it’s not high on your reading list, but for federal policy, it’s an important resource to track the status of federal regulations and to better understand the potential impact for your state and district.

According to a 2015 report by the White House Office of Management and Budget, unfunded mandates and federal regulations cost states, cities and the general public between $57 billion and $85 billion each year. While state leaders are working to maintain a balanced budget in their respective states, they often can’t factor in the potential economic costs imposed by federal regulations.

State officials are closely watching as the U.S. Department of Education releases more information on what the new act changes in accountability system requirements and funding mechanisms. The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act, or NCLB, is the product of bipartisan efforts in Congress to give states greater control of accountability and academic standards.

When we’ve set out in search of sectors of state government that tend to have the most robust set of performance measures, we often run across transportation as a good example. The reason is a simple one. Even if a state wanted to save money by forgoing evaluation of its roads and bridges, it is required to do this kind of work by regulations set forth by the Federal Highway Administration.

If you’ve ever watched the television show “Fringe,” you’re familiar with the concept of the multiverse—parallel universes that branch off from our own, based on the decisions each of us makes every day. These parallel universes have subtle differences. In “Fringe,” a parallel universe is explored where blimps regularly carry passengers on long-distance air travel, JFK was never assassinated and Martin Luther King Jr. is commemorated on the $20 bill. It’s like our universe, only … different.

by Doug Chapin, director of the election academy at the Hubert Humphrey School Of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
As the 2016 election approaches, it’s not just candidates who are getting ready for the busy year ahead. Election officials in every state are already hard at work making sure that voters will be able to cast their ballots and choose the next class of political leaders. 
What, specifically, can election officials do to maximize the effectiveness of the voting system and minimize the likelihood of problems at the polls in 2016? There are three major jobs for election officials between now and Election Day.
An oath is the bridge that carries newly elected leaders from the grueling campaign trail to the daily grind of a public servant. In January, men and women across the country will raise their right hands and promise to support constitutions and do their jobs to the best of their abilities. The texts of these oaths vary from state to state. Some states have a single oath; some tailor oaths to the office. In most cases, oaths have been amended several times over centuries. Others, however, haven’t changed since states’ first constitutions. The following are excerpts from state oaths of office, past and present.
by Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris

Closing the skills gap has become almost cliché, but a few short years ago that was not the case. The United States was caught flat-footed by the reshoring of advanced manufacturing in America.

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