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The future of a controversial Indiana “right to work” law (dubbed “right to work for less” by opponents) is now in the hands of the state’s Supreme Court. According to The Indianapolis Star, oral arguments were set to begin in early September. The 2012 law has been ruled unconstitutional by two lower-court state judges. In contrast, it survived a legal challenge in federal court.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—While states across the country have made changes to their public employee retirement plans, some of them have ended up in court for one key reason. “There’s a theme that comes where reform efforts have worked and where they don’t and a lot of them end up getting them challenged in court,” Robert D. Klausner, a partner with a law firm that handles retirement system cases, said during the CSG policy academy, “Accounting for the State of Public Pensions,” Saturday, Aug. 9. “The places where it doesn’t get challenged in court are places where employees have been engaged early in the process.”

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—While public pension plans still face problems, the situation isn’t as bleak as the headlines report, according to Dana Bilyeu, executive director of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. In fact, public pension plans across the country are 80 percent funded, on aggregate; that’s down from 101 percent funded in 2001, Bilyeu said. She spoke at The Council of State Governments policy academy, “Accounting for the State of Public Pensions,” Aug. 9.

This session explored what’s in store for your state in 2015 and beyond as experts forecast fiscal and economic trends for states and the nation. The discussion focused on the most significant fiscal and economic issues facing states—such as public pensions, tax reform and ways to foster entrepreneurship—and included insights about how states are tackling similar concerns.

Shortfalls in state-run retirement systems continue to grow, and in the 2012 fiscal year, the gap between promises to state workers and funding in the accounts reached $915 billion. Unfunded pension obligations can have significant implications for a state’s fiscal stability, including lower credit ratings, increased borrowing costs and the diversion of state resources away from other spending priorities like infrastructure and education.

After years of American companies sending jobs to other countries, recent trends suggest a surge in training workers at home and keeping production in the United States. Some manufacturers are bringing jobs back from overseas, a trend that many find hopeful for our economy. New hires topped 3 million in less than 2 years, with almost 2 million new workers coming on board in 2011. This policy academy addressed education and training to support American workers so they are the best-trained workforce in the world; ensuring efficiency and productivity by workers in domestic businesses; business incentives to invest in hiring and expanding; and technical support so companies can grow and expand.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those with less than a high school diploma was11 percent in 2013 - nearly 4 percentage points higher than the national average and almost triple the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor's degree. 

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...

Each year, more than 250,000 service members transition out of the military. Many of them become entrepreneurs: nearly half of military veterans start their own business after completing their military service.

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) a bipartisan, bicameral bill that was the result of months of negotiations between House and Senate leaders.  The bill, which received wide support (415 to 6), will modernize and improve the federal workforce development programs aimed at helping workers attain the skills needed for 21st century jobs.   The legislation recently passed through the U.S. Senate with overwhelming support (95 to 3, with 2 no votes) and now awaits the President’s signature.

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