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In a fiscal environment with much competition for limited state resources, state leaders need the ability to make data-driven policy decisions more than ever before. Increasingly, state leaders are using economic analysis software and data systems to predict economic impacts. Users have used one of those programs, IMPLAN, to estimate the direct, indirect, induced and total impacts of foreign direct investment to their state’s economy including the number of jobs supported, labor income, total value added and tax revenue.

Only 3 percent of the world’s water is fresh, with 2 percent locked up in glaciers and polar ice caps. The remaining 1 percent that is available for human and animal uses has seemed, in the past, to be an inexhaustible, yet vital, resource. Abundant water for drinking, sanitation, industry, irrigation, transportation and recreation has been a hallmark of much of the South. Development pressures, changes in precipitation patterns and transitioning priorities and consumption levels, however, have caused a shift in this situation.

Policymakers across the country continue to focus on expanding the collaboration between education--at the high school and postsecondary levels--and economic development in an effort to develop a highly skilled and competitive workforce. Cooperation between the education and economic development sectors in state government, combined with active input from the corporate sector, is a critical factor in recruiting and retaining industry, particularly in manufacturing. Several states in The Council of State Governments' Southern...

While marijuana use for medicinal purposes has been on the legislative agenda in many states outside the Southern region for a number of years, Southern state legislatures only recently have begun to grapple with the complexities of the issue. Many Southern lawmakers cite stories of families with children suffering from severe seizure or muscular disorders as the impetus for the push toward some form of legalization. But for every family that puts a face on the issue, lawmakers are confronted with a plethora of questions about the science behind medical marijuana and about ways to implement a program in their state.

The Supreme Court’s docket is full of cases of interest to states on controversial issues, including affirmative action, legislative prayer and environmental regulation. Lisa Soronen of the State and Local Legal Center discussed the court’s current term—and cases granted for next term—from the state perspective. As the Robert’s court nears its tenth year, Elizabeth Wydra of the Constitution Accountability Center and Erin Murphy of Bancroft offered observations on the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Robert’s leadership, looking both backward and forward.

The Council of State Governments Medicaid Policy Academy in Washington, D.C., June 18-20 provided attendees with important information about the many facets of the Medicaid program. Speakers at the sessions offered information beyond the sessions in video interviews.

Medicaid Role in State Budgets

Robin Rudowitz, associate director, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, says Medicaid has a complicated role in state budgets.

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Tooth decay affects nearly 60 percent of American children. More than one in three adults reports not visiting a dentist in the last year. Though dental care was once considered merely cosmetic, its importance to overall health is well documented. Untreated decay can lead to serious, potentially life-threatening infection. Pregnancy outcomes and heart disease also are linked to dental disease. 

This eCademy session explored how the Affordable Care Act can bring coverage to more children and adults in states that expand...

MAP-21, the 2012 federal surface transportation authorization bill, is set to expire later this year. Meanwhile, the Highway Trust Fund faces an insolvency crisis due to rapidly dwindling gas tax revenues, and there appears to be little agreement in Congress on how to fund the federal transportation program. Some say that makes this year ripe for a reconsideration of the federal role in transportation and have proposed devolution of the federal program to the states.

Interstate compacts often are seen as a way for states to work cooperatively to avoid federal intervention; however there is considerable precedence for federal participation in interstate compacts. In fact, federal officials are active in several compacts, with participation ranging from congressional consent to direct federal involvement.

A 2011 study by Deloitte for the Manufacturing Institute found that American manufacturing companies could not fill as many as 600,000 positions—or 5 percent of manufacturing jobs—due to a lack of qualified candidates, and 56 percent of manufacturers anticipate that shortage will increase in the next three to five years. Technological advancements, particularly in the manufacturing area, mean that workers need more specialized skills to both get and keep jobs. To get to those skilled workers, companies must make a decision: Look for new, qualified employees or retrain their current workforce.

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