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By Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
Why are state fiscal leaders concerned about the aging of the population? Typically, when we talk with them, the conversation inevitably turns to the cascading cost of health care borne by the states as men and women reach their 70s, 80s and beyond. But, though this is viewed as a policy challenge, at bottom, nobody seems to argue that the phenomenon of an aging population is, at heart, a bad one. As actor Maurice Chevalier said when asked about aging, “consider the alternative.” According to Census Bureau data, about 14.5 percent of the U.S. population is age 65 or over now, but that number will grow by about a third before 2030.

CSG South

In the last 30 years or so, particularly in the early years of the 21st century, there has been renewed interest in commuter trains across the country, including in the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) member states. This renewed interest has been propelled for a variety of reasons: commuters choosing rail over cars for convenience; easing traffic congestion; reducing air pollution; promoting economic development; and boosting property values. Consequently, multiple metropolitan regions in SLC member states continue to operate commuter rail systems and expand their operations, even initiating new networks. Given that these initiatives have emerged in transit-starved areas, this increased momentum to introduce or expand commuter rail systems is a direct response to the demands and expectations of businesses and the workforce. Information on recent efforts in the SLC states to enhance the light rail capacities in their transportation plans, an important cog in any multimodal strategy, is detailed in this SLC Regional Resource.

Justice Nancy Saitta was elected in 2006 to the Nevada Supreme Court, where she served as chief justice from September 2011 to May 2012. A former prosecutor and municipal and state district court judge, Saitta has been a tireless advocate for children, youth and juvenile justice reform. Saitta retired her seat on the Nevada Supreme Court in August, but remains a senior justice and will continue to fight for the state’s children and youth as chair of the state Blue Ribbon for Kids Commission, the Coalition to Combat Criminal Sexual Exploitation of Children and the Juvenile Justice Reform Commission. Saitta serves as co-chair of the CSG Interbranch Affairs Committee and is a 2009 CSG Toll Fellow.

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There are multiple challenges to the question of child care in the states. Early childhood education can be viewed through multiple policy area lenses, including workforce development, education, health care and economic development. What is at stake for families with young children needing child care?

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The fourth of a five-part series on child care as a public policy question, this CSG research brief highlights child care quality in the states, including initiatives to mea- sure and improve quality, and the development of a skilled early childhood education workforce. The prior three briefs in this series explored demographics of families with small children, affordability and access.

By Katy Albis
It is impossible to talk about the justice system without talking about race. In fact, with several high-profile incidents involving violent contact between law enforcement officers and minority residents, so much of today’s conversation about justice policy and practice seems to focus specifically on race. But talking about race and justice in a comprehensive, solution-oriented way requires looking closely at very specific components of the system to determine how racial disparity manifests. One such component is risk and needs assessment. Risk and needs assessment uses an actuarial evaluation to guide decision-making at various points across the criminal justice continuum by approximating a person’s likelihood of reoffending and determining what individual needs must be met in order to reduce that likelihood.

This is the third installment of a series of research briefs focusing on child care in the United States. The first brief provided an overview of child care, including what families with children look like today. The second brief explored the affordability of child care. This brief focuses on questions about the availability and access American families have to child care from state to state. How can families choose which setting is best for their child? How many slots are available per child in a state, and how many child care workers are there?

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Child care is a major expense for most families across the country. Federal, state and local governments recognize the financial burden that child care places on parents, offering subsidies to those hardest hit— low-income families. This research brief is the second in a five-part series about the state of child care and its implications. In the first brief, we introduced child care as a state policy area, the demographics of families with young children, and the federal legislative landscape for improving the quality of child care and subsidizing costs.

Affordable, high-quality and accessible child care is a challenge for many American families. In a series of research briefs, CSG examines the balancing act familiar to many families in the United States—managing work and child care—and how states are working in conjunction with the federal government to improve the process for all families with young children.

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What is the backbone of the American economy today? The answer policymakers and the private sector increasingly give to that question has affected the way we think about economic development, how we fund education, how we identify what’s important in infrastructure and more—the innovation economy. But defining this term is difficult, because, by its nature, it can consist of different things in different communities and regions. More than just STEM fields, the innovation economy depends on active entrepreneurship, creativity and fresh approaches to leverage the knowledge and skills in existing markets through new technologies. An innovation economy isn’t limited to digital assets—oftentimes advanced manufacturing is included, for example. One of the biggest features of an innovation economy is a highly skilled, energetic workforce and the appropriate economic climate. With many experts suggesting that the current and future economic success of states and communities may rely on the innovation economy, state and local policymakers must understand where their community stands as they create strategic plans and choose how best to spend limited resources.

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