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The labor force participation rate has been on the decline for more than a decade and the rate of decline has increased since the Great Recession began in December 2007. The likelihood of someone not participating in the labor force, as well as the reason for not participating, often depends on a person’s age. Participation rates vary significantly across states and regions, with a range of nearly 20 percentage points between the lowest and highest states.

The State of State Addresses: Settling in for the Long Haul1
 
Governors were more likely this year than last to address a broader range of issues in their state of the state addresses. At least two-thirds of them considered five issues in 2013, compared to just three issues in 2012. Education, jobs and taxes remain hot topics, but health care and public safety also moved up the list. Health care was the second most mentioned issue by governors this year, not a surprise since the start date for implementation of the Affordable Care Act is less than a year away. Also, governors’ consideration of gun control and safety issues was not unlikely given the tragic mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut in 2012. Governors seemed hesitant to pursue expansive budget and policy agendas, recognizing that fiscal recovery from the Great Recession will remain sluggish.
 
When Hurricane Sandy hit the mid-Atlantic and East Coast in late October 2012, it not only killed more than 200 people and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage. It altered the way this country manages disasters. Congress passed the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 in late January. In addition to providing almost $51 billion for recovery and other projects, it amended the Stafford Act and key aspects of federal disaster assistance programs. Beyond the legislation, the hurricane also provoked debate on the underfunded National Flood Insurance Program, climate change and its impact on rising sea levels, the growing economic losses from disasters, community resiliency and rebuilding stronger versus not re-building at all. The country hasn’t witnessed this kind of national discourse related to a natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Yet even as these discussions took place, the harsh undercurrent of fiscal battles, partisan politics and citizens who require help persisted. Together, they have created an intense struggle that won’t be resolved any time soon.
 
Voters decided 186 ballot propositions in 39 states in 2012, approving 63 percent of them. The electorate swung to the left on some issues, with potential breakthrough victories for advocates of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington, and same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington. Other high-profile issues included taxes, the death penalty and illegal immigration.
 
Governors continue to be in the forefront of governmental activity in the 21st century. They are in the middle of addressing the problems facing the country’s weak economy. The demands on governors to propose state budgets and keep them in balance have continued to increase greatly during the ongoing recession as severe revenue shortfalls have hit the states. This places severe limits on the states’ abilities to address the many growing needs of people and businesses trying to live through such tough times. The varying political viewpoints on what and how state government should work on this continuing set of problems only makes it harder for elected leaders to achieve agreements over policy needs and governmental responsibilities.
 
Career technical education is a vital part of education improvement efforts and will play a vital role in enhancing the nation’s economy by providing skills preparation aligned to current and future labor market demands. Career technical education provides a robust opportunity for meeting the labor and education demands of the global economy.
 
As state and territorial governments adapt to an ever-changing 21st century, executive and legislative branch officials are actualizing greater opportunity in the office of lieutenant governor. Leaders are tackling workforce, transportation and health care, and are working to provide new opportunities to small business on a global stage. Fully utilized, the office of lieutenant governor offers a high-ranking leader and ambassador providing a competitive edge unique to a state’s priorities. Four case studies demonstrate states focusing lieutenant governors on economic development among their other duties.
 
“We are what we learn,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has noted. If that message is true, what does it say that many of today’s children are learning essentially the same content in substantially the same way as their parents and grandparents? They are 21st century students who are still receiving a 20th century education.
 
With more and more people relying on smartphones and tablet computers to conduct their everyday business, mobility is rapidly becoming a must-have capability for state government agencies, including election offices. State efforts to transform and modernize voting through mobile technology took center stage during the 2012 presidential election cycle, with the introduction of new smartphone apps, tablet voting programs and emergency texting options for voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy. This article outlines some of the key state mobile initiatives for the 2012 election cycle, along with some potential options that may enhance the voting experience in the future.
 
Family caregivers are the backbone of our nation’s system of long-term services and supports for older adults and people with disabilities. The economic value of their contributions is estimated at $450 billion per year. It is critical that states support the efforts of these caregivers, to help them avoid burn out and protect their own health.
 

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