State eNews Issue #38 | January 20, 2010

In the midst of California’s budget troubles, its only remaining A-level credit rating from a major firm was just downgraded to an A-minus, according to The Los Angeles Times.

State eNews Issue #37 | January 6, 2010

States are starting to see an influx of investment in broadband from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The Obama administration on Dec. 17 announced $183 million in the first round of stimulus funds would go to 18 broadband projects in 17 states. Of the initial awards, $121.6 million went to middle mile projects, those connections to communities lacking sufficient broadband access...

This edition of Firstline Midwest is Part 2 of a two-part series on state responses in the Midwest to the budget crisis. Part 1 focuses on the revenue side, particularly proposals in 2009 to close budget gaps through tax increases or gambling expansions. Part 2 examines short- and long-term strategies to control spending.

Prior to the last two fiscal years, state budgets were being passed and balanced with fairly robust increases in state spending: on average, about 6 percent annually between 1979 and 2008....

While the Recovery Act has made unprecedented investments in clean energy, energy efficiency, and other environmental improvements, a new report by The Council of State Governments finds that in most states the wave of green jobs tied to these investments has yet to arrive.


NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council of State Governments applauds provisions included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that provide funding for states to support the adoption of health information technology; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council of State Governments calls on the federal government to continue to lead the effort to implement a nationwide network of health information technology systems and devise standards that ensure private-sector and state-supported systems are interoperable; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council of State Governments urges the federal government to encourage providers to adopt secure, effective health information technology systems.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments calls upon the federal agencies distributing the broadband funding included in the ARRA to expressly mandate that broadband awareness, adoption, use, and digital literacy programs receive funding priority;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments calls upon the federal agencies implementing the broadband funding included in the ARRA to follow Congress’ clear legislative intent with respect to broadband adoption, use, and digital literacy treat the mandated minimum expenditure of $250 million for these purposes as a threshold level with a maximum limited only by the size of the broadband stimulus program itself.

According to the Department of Education, a state should use the Government Services Fund to: “[H]elp create jobs, reduce unemployment, stabilize and improve the State’s economy, and avert the need to raise taxes. The Department also encourages Governors to use these funds in ways that support State and local educational reform initiatives, especially activities that will enable the State to make progress in the areas related to the four education reform assurances provided in the State’s application for Stabilization funding.”

States bear enormous responsibility for administering the nation’s safety net programs. They are the first responders when unemployed workers apply for unemployment benefits, food assistance and welfare. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expanded some safety net support, temporarily filling in some of the benefit gaps.

Fiscal conditions in the states began to decline in fiscal 2008. State spending and revenues grew at a lower rate than the prior year and balances were well-below their near record levels of fiscal 2007. While fiscal 2008 saw somewhat moderate declines, the fiscal situation in the states has deteriorated much more sharply in fiscal 2009. State spending is projected to be negative for the first time since 1983, balance levels are being reduced as states use reserves to address shortfalls, and recent data shows state revenues declining by 4 percent. As a result, states are likely to face a difficult budgetary environment in fiscal 2010 and beyond.

For the past four decades, states have turned to legalization of various forms of gambling to generate tax revenues or to stimulate economic or tourism development. Legal gaming industries generated more than $92 billion in gaming revenues in 2007, with about two-thirds of that coming from commercial or tribal casinos. By 2009, lotteries had become nearly ubiquitous in the United States, and casinos are within a few hours drive of virtually every American. Internet gambling, however, is presently prohibited by federal law, and certain forms of gambling, such as sports wagering, are generally prohibited outside Nevada.