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Approximately 7.7 million people living in states with a federally run health insurance exchange purchased health insurance and qualified for monthly premium tax subsidies during the 2014-15 open enrollment period, according to newly released data. The estimated annual value of those tax subsidies tops $24 billion, according to calculations by The Council of State Governments. These premium subsidies are at risk in the King v. Burwell case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

By Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, CSG Senior Fellows

At least a dozen states—including Arizona, Florida, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin—have plans to cut taxes in the coming year. But statistics suggest that lowering the tax burden doesn’t always translate into economic activity.

Redistricting policy in the United States has become highly partisan, with some state legislatures at odds over where and how to draw district lines and the legality of independent redistricting commissions being considered by the Supreme Court. This eCademy session features national experts on elections and redistricting policy to help state policymakers better understand the contemporary redistricting policy landscape, as well as innovative policy solutions.

Interest in using solar energy to power homes continues to skyrocket and rural electric cooperatives are taking notice. Rural co-ops--nonprofit consumer-owned utilities--are responding to demands from their members looking to invest in community solar projects. Utilities are developing these programs, which allow customers to pay for the cost of one or more panels in exchange for a credit on their bill based on the energy the panels produce. This eCademy session features experts discussing the national trend of community solar programs and specific examples to help state policymakers better understand this emerging trend.

States that previously were reluctant to expand Medicaid eligibility as allowed under the Affordable Care Act are considering waivers for expansion designed with their state politics and health care system in mind. Several governors met with President Obama in January to advocate for their proposals. This eCademy session addresses how much flexibility states have under Section 1115 waivers and provides an overview of state waiver proposals.

 

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The main purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to conserve plant and animal species. However, as the list of protected species grows and development grows, the balancing act of conservation and development is increasingly complex. But states are beginning to shift perspectives and forge unique partnerships to recognize and support existing conservation and develop smarter with species in mind.

Most states have created dedicated trust funds to support transportation. Some have constitutional restrictions on how the revenues in those funds can be spent. Others simply have restrictions codified in statute that haven’t always been effective in preventing the diversion of revenues to other budget areas. Maryland and Wisconsin are the two newest states with constitutional protections for their transportation trust funds. Additional states could follow suit, but despite their real or perceived benefits, such protections are unlikely to have much impact on struggling state transportation budgets.

By Frank Shafroth, Director of the Center for State and Local Government Leadership

Key state leadership is about focus—taking away partisanship and getting to the heart of the problem. Former U.S. Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, who also served as a state legislator, mayor and governor, once told me he had struggled hard to try and determine how one could distinguish between a Republican versus a Democratic pothole. His view was always to try and understand the problem, what it would take to fix it, and who could help him fix it.

Real gross domestic product – the total value of the production of goods and services adjusted for price changes – grew in 49 states in 2013. Nationally, nondurable–goods manufacturing contributed the most to real GDP growth, while mining played a key role in the fastest growing states – North Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

Veterans are enrolling in postsecondary education institutions in large numbers, most of them with extensive occupational experience. Many colleges use Prior Learning Assessments to award academic credit when the knowledge and skills an individual has gained outside the classroom--including employment, military training and service, civic activities, and volunteer service--can be matched to college-level coursework. Veterans who earn credit for general courses are able to complete their degrees in a shorter period of time, reducing...

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