NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments urges the U.S. Congress to pass reauthorization of Ex-Im Bank before the current authorization extension expires September, 2014.

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.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—The future of the country’s economic success appears to be a team effort. “One of the most important keys to our national growth and economic success is supporting a highly trained workforce,” West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said at CSG’s Policy Academy on Workforce Development, held Aug. 9 at the CSG National and CSG West Annual Conference in Alaska. “Education is the number one qualifier for jobs of today and tomorrow.”

Just as growing a garden requires tending, so, too, does growing the businesses that fuel a state’s economy. That was the message of experts at the CSG West Economic Development and Trade Committee session Saturday.

While many states attempt to lure big companies, in most cases, this comes with a high price tag for state governments in the form of expensive incentives.

That’s why Oklahoma started a program to support small startup companies.

The fiscal skies are clearing, but states still have some tough decisions to make.

Experts shared strategies states can use to improve their standing in a number of areas, including rainy day reserves, pensions and international trade, during Sunday’s session, Fiscal and Economic Outlook for 2015.

According to Mary Murphy of the Pew Charitable Trusts, state shortfalls outstripped savings nearly two-to-one during the Great Recession. Post-recession, however, state tax revenues are showing overall improvement.

Smuggled tobacco comes with many challenges and costs, and it’s not just lost tax dollars for states, speakers at the session, “Smuggled Tobacco: Straining States’ Bottom Lines,” said Sunday.

“The amount of money that become involved is enormous,” said G. Stewart Petoe, director of legal affairs for the Virginia State Crime Commission. “You make absolute fortunes trafficking black market cigarettes.”

As one dealer noted in a recording...

In today’s knowledge-based global economy, economic development is contingent on innovation that creates jobs and stimulates competition in the global marketplace. Safeguarding intellectual property rights behind this innovation incentivizes the innovators and creators, attracts world-class research and development, and creates and sustains high-quality jobs. This session will feature leading trade experts who will discuss the hot topics in global innovation and intellectual property.

This session will explore 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 will focus on the most significant fiscal and economic issues facing your state—like public pensions, tax reform and ways to foster entrepreneurship—and include 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.

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