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State leaders are focused on skill development and apprenticeships as the way forward in increasing labor participation and attracting mid- and high-wage jobs to their states. As states and businesses continue to recover from the Great Recession, both are attempting to do so in a new environment. The 21st century has seen two historic shifts related to economics and workforce development. The first is the return of manufacturing jobs to the United States and the second is the new technological requirements of these jobs. While job opportunities continue to grow, today’s factories employ fewer people but require greater levels of technical knowledge from employees.

The election of Donald J. Trump in November left some state transportation advocates scratching their heads about the role states and localities will need to play in the years ahead to ensure that progress on transportation continues, that priorities are maintained and that future investments reflect those priorities.

Global conflicts, health risks, populist political movements and changing attitudes toward trade all represent unpredictable influences on global economic stability, which has significant impact on states’ economies. In 2016, the world saw a number of political and trade issues—such as the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the European Union, also known as Brexit, and Americans’ resistance to international trade agreements—emerge unexpectedly that will continue to resonate in 2017. With little certainty as to how these and other issues will play out, global economic instability will be the most important international issue facing states this year.

All but three state legislatures will meet in 2017 to adopt budgets. Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program that currently covers about 73 million Americans, is the single-largest component of state budgets. It is all but certain that big changes are ahead for Medicaid under the Trump administration, but the shape, fiscal impact and speed of those changes are likely to remain unclear before sine die adjournment in many states.

On Jan. 20, President Donald Trump took the Oath of Office to be sworn in as America’s 45th president. Thousands stood along the National Mall to watch him offer his inaugural address. Meanwhile, behind the scenes of the inaugural festivities and mostly out of the public eye, frenetic activity has been taking place to plan and prepare for the transition to the next administration. The president’s transition team must fill 4,000 political appointments to lay the groundwork for implementing the new administration’s policy agenda, and provide for the effective management of our civil service and military.

About one out of every three dollars of state revenue comes from the federal government. But with a new Republican-controlled White House and Congress, the future of that funding is unclear. “There is some uncertainty there. We just don’t know what’s going to happen with federal funding,” said Delaware state Rep. Helene Keeley. “It’s really too soon to tell,” said Brian Sigritz, director of state fiscal studies at the National Association of State Budget Officers. “But from a budgetary perspective, any kind of federal uncertainty can make it difficult for states to do their budget proposals.”

Rules and policies promulgated by the Obama administration, such as the Clean Power Plan and the Clean Water Rule, were some of the most controversial environmental regulations seen in recent memory. While these rules have not yet been implemented at the state level and remain stayed pending the outcome of litigation, the election of President Donald J. Trump in November called into question what the future of these and other Obama administration policies will be and what role states will play in guiding energy and environmental policy in the future.

State education officials are being given greater control over everything from evaluating teacher performance to setting education standards, thanks to a comprehensive reform bill signed by President Barack Obama in December 2015. The legislation, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, reduced the federal government’s role in setting education policy and granted more authority to the states, a move that education officials are hopeful will lead to strides in fixing widening achievement gaps and other issues that have plagued the nation’s public schools.

 

Free and fair elections serve as the cornerstone of a democratic system of governance. Providing an efficient and accurate voting system, and securing such a system against the threat of fraud and manipulation, is a challenge as old as our nation itself, one which states successfully have met. But these times, in which there are unsupported allegations of voter fraud and the potential of election systems being hacked by enemies foreign and domestic, bring both new needs and new opportunities for federal, state and local elections officials. As technologies advance to offer opportunities to strengthen state and local election officials’ capacities to carry out elections, opportunities also emerge to jeopardize our voting systems.
As an experienced convener of the nation’s most seasoned elections officials, The Council of State Governments stands ready to assist in addressing the complex issues facing the American elections system.

In 2016, The Council of State Governments and the National Conference of State Legislatures assembled a national task force to focus on workforce development efforts targeting people with disabilities in the states. This task force had four subcommittees composed of state policymakers along with non-voting stakeholders from the private sector and academia. The third in a four-part series that coincides with the subcommittee topics, this CSG Capitol Research brief highlights the recommendations from the Hiring, Retention and Reentry, or HRR, Subcommittee of the National Task Force on Workforce Development and Employability for People with Disabilities.

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