As the end of the Great Recession recedes into the past, governors maintain a “steady as she goes” approach to governing. Perhaps “cautiously expansive” best describes governors’ budget and policy agendas in 2014. The same five issues surfaced this year as last year as being part of most gubernatorial agendas: education, taxes, jobs, health care and public safety. State chief executives continue to finesse their plans for advancing their states as highly educated, economically vibrant, healthy and safe. More governors this year than last year consider state budget balance, rainy day funds and reserves, debt reduction and pensions. Many of these governors are calling for creating, funding and replenishing rainy day funds, applying surpluses to pay for infrastructure and undergirding pension trust funds. Some governors did venture into relatively new areas, given the times, by calling for serious investment in the arts as a roundabout way to influence state economic and cultural development.

Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast just days before the 2012 presidential election, bringing nearly everything to a halt except Election Day itself. The successes and setbacks election officials experienced in dealing with power outages, polling place changes, ballot delivery and poll worker shortages heightened awareness about the importance of emergency measures to help ensure the effective administration of elections. This article examines the key findings of the National Association of Secretaries of State Task Force on Emergency Preparedness for Elections, providing a closer look at the state laws and contingency planning work that can make a difference when disaster strikes.

The nation’s state treasurers provide a wide range of financial management services to their constituents. They work to safeguard the financial interests of citizens through the professional management of college savings plans, unclaimed property programs and professional debt management efforts. Many are also actively involved in financial literacy efforts and they regularly offer their input and expertise on financial efforts at the federal level that have the potential to impact state treasuries.

The release of voluntary interim financial information by governments is an idea that has been discussed for years. The concept seems simple enough, but in practice governments have found it difficult to implement. In the summer of 2013, the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers—known as NASACT—released a series of 10 best practices aimed at helping states realize this vision of voluntary interim financial reporting.

Governors continue to be at 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 since the recession began as severe revenue shortfalls hit the states. This places severe limits on the states’ abilities to address 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.

A state with a well-structured, fully utilized office of lieutenant governor is at an advantage in this globally competitive world. Gubernatorial succession is the shared and essential role of all lieutenant governors. Beyond succession, governors, legislators and lieutenant governors may direct the structure and/or duties of the office in a way to leverage the position as a competitive advantage to a state in the global marketplace

The Supreme Court will decide in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC whether state boards with members who are market participants elected by their peers must be “actively supervised” to be exempt from federal antitrust law.  This case will impact the thousands of state boards and commissions nationwide (at least those with market participants elected by their peers that take actions that implicate federal antitrust law). 

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Even though federal offices were back in business and open to the public yesterday following the 16-day government shutdown, some agencies that collect, analyze and distribute data will be playing catch up for months. The Department of Labor announced yesterday that it would release its postponed September employment report on Tuesday, October 22. The report, which was originally scheduled to be released on Friday, October 4, is a highly publicized and critical set of monthly economic indicators from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also posted a new schedule for other reports on its website, which suggests it may be a while before the agency gets back on track.

While some effects of the federal government are easy to see—national park closures, for example—other effects are less obvious. The federal government collects, analyzes and publishes a lot of data—particularly economic data—that is used by both the private and public sector to make significant decisions. But the flow of new critical data from agencies like the Department of Labor or the Department of Commerce has been abruptly halted by the shutdown.

Stateline Midwest ~ July/August 2013

A decision by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in July to block the salaries of state legislators has resulted in a constitutional showdown between the legislative and executive branches of government. According to the ...

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