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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.

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.

by Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, CSG Senior Fellows

We spend a great deal of time in an activity they refer to as “radar screening.” The whole point of the effort is to read as much as we can about state government, while interviewing dozens of officials and observers every month. Then we connect the proverbial dots and try to discern the most important topics for the states, whether or not they’ve actually reached the general press. Here, we outline five items we think will grow ever more significant to the states as the new year moves along.

Who would have believed that a holiday trip to California’s Disneyland could lead to the sudden spread of measles, a disease formerly believed to have been nearly eradicated? The new outbreak of measles—reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have infected 121 people in 17 states and the District of Columbia between Jan. 1 and Feb. 6, 2015 —has brought the topic of vaccinations into the public eye and become one of the top political discussions of the day.

The Border Legislative Conference, a program of The Council of State Governments West, released a report, “The U.S.-Mexico Border Economy in Transition,” at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. The report is the result of four Regional Economic Competitiveness Forums held along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014 to collectively generate a shared vision and policy recommendations to strengthen economic competitiveness. The report lays out the major issues involved in border region economic development, compiles the many innovative ideas developed at the forums and weaves them into a series of policy recommendations that draw on the experiences of those who understand the border best: the individuals who live in border communities and who cross back and forth between Mexico and the United States as a part of their daily lives.

In most years, it's education and health care. At least, those issues rank at the top of the list in governors' state of the state addresses from 2012 to 2014.

Insourcing is a practice that reverses the trend of multinational corporations operating overseas. Businesses increasingly are choosing to relocate to the United States, and in some cases, foreign-owned corporations are employing American workers for the first time. Insourcing saves and creates jobs, and state policy can play a pivotal role in affecting businesses’ decisions to locate stateside.

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