Sujit CanagaRetna

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SLC's latest Issue Alert examines how, even though the relative importance of agriculture and agriculture-related industries in the overall U.S. economy has diminished in recent years, the sector continues to be a critical component of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP). In 2012, the latest year available, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the sector contributed $775.8 billion toward GDP, a 4.8 percent share; the output of the nation's farms alone totaled $166.9 billion in 2012.

During the Great Recession, states faced enormous challenges related to funding a number of vital programs. One of those programs was adequately financing their unemployment insurance trust funds, a program that originated in the 1930s. As a result of the doggedly high unemployment rates in so many states during the Great Recession and previous actions taken by states (such as expanding unemployment benefits and cutting unemployment insurance taxes), the unemployment insurance funds in a majority of the states were thrust into perilous shape. By 2013, the funding position of these funds improved as a result of an advancing economy and a series of actions initiated by states.

This new report from the Southern Legislative Conference examines the increasing number of aeronautics companies that are locating, relocating or expanding their manufacturing operations in the South, a trend particularly discernible in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Distracted driving is a national epidemic, claiming thousands of lives on American roads every year. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011. This complimentary webinar, presented by CSG South, featured panelists who addressed the latest research on the potential impact of using devices while driving, state legislative initiatives to hone distracted driving laws and updates on efforts at the federal level to reduce distracted driving accidents.

In recent years, states in the CSG-South area—as well as the nation as a whole—have been exposed to significant risks due to hurricanes and tornadoes. These immense storms have caused immeasurable damage in terms of the loss of human life and billions of dollars in economic costs.

A Transformative Transportation Project: Panama Canal Expansion—The ongoing expansion is perhaps the most transformative global transportation project now in progress. Upon completion in 2014, the expanded Panama Canal will facilitate an even greater flow of trade between Asia and the Americas and will substantially impact the volume of trade reaching Gulf and Atlantic coast ports in the United States. The impetus for the expansion of the canal, approved by the people of Panama in October 2006, sprang from that nation’s desire to continue as a pivotal player in global trade patterns and strategically leverage its greatest asset—the Panama Canal—for its own economic well-being.

The Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference recently conducted a webinar entitled "States Act to Bolster Transportation Funding: Lessons from the South."  Webinar participants heard from Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia on recent measures initiated in these SLC states to advance transportation and infrastructure development efforts. Against the backdrop of inertia at the federal level, dozens of states across the country have introduced, and sometimes enacted, reform measures to adequately fund their transportation and infrastructure networks. Given that adequate and ongoing infrastructure investments are critical for economic growth, state policymakers, particularly those in the SLC states, are moving proactively to devise funding mechanisms for these programs.

The Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference recently conducted a webinar entitled "States Act to Bolster Transportation Funding: Lessons from the South."  Webinar participants heard from Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia on recent measures initiated in these SLC states to advance transportation and infrastructure development efforts. Against the backdrop of inertia at the federal level, dozens of states across the country have introduced, and sometimes enacted, reform measures to adequately fund their transportation and infrastructure networks. Given that adequate and ongoing infrastructure investments are critical for economic growth, state policymakers, particularly those in the SLC states, are moving proactively to devise funding mechanisms for these programs.

The ongoing Panama Canal expansion is perhaps the most transformative global transportation project now in progress. Upon completion in 2014, the expanded Panama Canal will facilitate an even greater flow of trade between Asia and the Americas and will substantially impact the volume of trade reaching Gulf and Atlantic Coast ports in the United States. The impetus for the expansion of the Canal, approved by the people of Panama in October 2006, sprang from that nation’s desire to continue as a pivotal player in global trade patterns and strategically leverage its greatest asset—the Panama Canal—for its own economic well-being. 

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released the state personal income levels for 2012. Based on this data, average state personal income growth slowed to 3.5 percent in 2012 from 5.2 percent in 2011. While North Dakota demonstrated the largest increase in state personal income growth (12.4 percent) among all the states, South Dakota’s -0.2 percent was the most anemic. In terms of inflation, as measured by the national price index for personal consumption expenditures, the rate fell to 1.8 percent in 2012 from 2.4 percent in 2011.

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