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Republicans scored major victories in the 2014 elections across the country. Here is a look at the states' elective offices and key initiatives following the sweeping election.

The CSG Justice Center, in partnership with Texas A&M University, released a study commissioned by Texas state leaders interested in understanding the impact of the state's reforms of its juvenile justice system. This unprecedented study compares the impact on youth under community supervision versus incarceration in state correctional facilities. Closer to Home: An Analysis of the State and Local Impact of the Texas Juvenile Justice Reforms, which draws on an unprecedented dataset of 1.3 million individual case records spanning eight years, shows youth incarcerated in state-run facilities are 21 percent more likely to be rearrested than those who remain under supervision closer to home. When they do reoffend, data show that youth released from state-run secure facilities are three times more likely to commit a felony than youth who are under community supervision.

States know that increased international exposure can contribute to economic growth and increased trade and foreign investment. While higher education institutions traditionally have focused on recruiting international students, several states now are formalizing their approach to attracting foreign students and encouraging foreign exchange in strategic economic and workforce development plans. This eCademy session identifies trends in state government activity supporting internationalization and examines why this is an area of increasing opportunity for states.

The federal government spends a lot of money in the states; it infused $3.1 trillion into states in the 2013 fiscal year. Programs include such things as Social Security and Medicaid, and salaries and wages for federal employees living and working in those states. In the 2013 fiscal year, federal spending in the states was the equivalent of about one-fifth of states’ economic activity, according to a report released in December by The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Federal Spending in the States 2004–2013.”

Distributed generation—mainly rooftop solar—is transforming the way electricity is generated, transmitted and distributed. In 2015, state lawmakers will likely continue debates about the most appropriate way to balance consumer demand for distributed generation while recognizing the real and substantial fixed and variable costs incurred by electric utilities and the potential impact of these policies on nonsolar consumers. This CSG eCademy session features perspectives from the electric power industry and a former utility ratepayer consumer advocate. Panelists share their thoughts on how to balance the challenges and opportunities the growth of distributed generation has brought to the forefront and how to address consumer concerns.

State policymakers will be dealing with a range of issues in various policy areas this year, ranging from health care and fiscal issues to energy and the environment. The most pressing questions facing policymakers likely will center on finding revenue to fund basic government programs, such as Medicaid and education, and looking to create jobs for state residents. The Council of State Governments this week released its annual listing of top 5 issues legislators will face this year in education, energy and the environment, federal affairs, fiscal and economic development, health, international affairs, interstate compacts, transportation and workforce development.

Sean Slone, Program Manager for Transportation Policy, outlines the top five issues in transportation policy for 2015, including uncertain federal funding, alternative funding mechanisms such as public-private partnerships and tolling, and the ways infrastructure spending contribute to workforce development and growing the nation's economy.

CSG Director of Education Policy Pam Goins outlines the top five issues in workforce development policy for 2015, including job driven-training, reducing the skills gap through the use of career pathways, alignment of education and workforce development systems, services for the hard-to-employ, and veterans' employment.

Jennifer Burnett, Program Manager for Fiscal and Economic Development Policy, outlines the top five issues in fiscal and economic development policy for 2015,  including job creations strategies, state innovations in health care spending, public pension solvency, and federal funding uncertainty. 

CSG Director of Health Policy Debra Miller outlines the top five issues in health policy for 2015, including Medicaid expansion, growing the health workforce, integrating health and human services, long-term care, and mental health and substance abuse. 

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