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State park agencies have experienced significant growth during the last decade and made progress in personnel, funding and operations. The economy had an early positive impact on state parks during the mid to late parts of the last decade. Recent reductions in state revenues have begun to erode the progress made during the 1990s. State parks are challenged by reduced funding levels, decreases in visitation, and reduction in full-time staff. Entrepreneurship, external funding sources, and increased state park revenue generation are ongoing trends for state parks.

This article provides an overview of several systematic factors contributing to the variation in faculty salaries. Institutional type is the most significant factor in determining faculty salaries overall; faculty members are also differentiated according to academic rank. Two other  important factors are gender and region, and several individual factors are also identified. The article also discusses several policy issues related to the decline in state funding for higher education.

Over the next 20 years U.S. consumption of oil and gas is expected to increase by at least onethird, while prices decline somewhat in real terms from today’s high levels. Dependence on foreign imports of oil and gas is expected to increase as domestic production declines.

Despite the slow turnaround of the economy, states are still faced with the challenge of maintaining and creating new jobs. Around the country state governments and economic development organizations are relying on proven programs and are challenging themselves to develop new ones in an effort to attract businesses to their areas and encourage expansion among existing local companies.

Economic developers and elected officials have long faced accusations of “corporate welfare” for the methods they use to lure companies to their turf. But a federal appeals court ruling in September 2004 that called certain Ohio tax breaks unconstitutional has also suddenly called everyone’s turf into question. While companies and states alike scramble for certainty in making the case for projects, the legal case may eventually wind its way to the Supreme Court.

In a global economy it will be difficult for states to maintain an economic base as low-cost producers of goods and services. States must, therefore, foster innovation and entrepreneurship in order to bring advanced technologies to market ahead of their global competitors. If our country is to maintain its current standard of living, then government must support innovation, particularly in science and technology, where it already has a competitive advantage over other nations.

In the last decade, many rural areas have been left behind. Yet federal and state rural development efforts have not proven up to the task. As a result, it’s time for a bold new approach to revitalizing rural America based on building competitive rural economies.

State transportation departments that supply roads, bridges and transit face tough challenges. With the U.S. population projected to grow steadily, increasing vehicle miles traveled, and booming freight traffic, officials are squeezing efficiency from current funds even as they seek more. In coming years, it will be important to build a case for the value of transportation with the public and explore a variety of construction and financing approaches.

Probation and parole play an essential and critical role in the administration of both criminal and juvenile justice. They supervise the vast majority of offenders, and their caseloads continue to grow. In response to the pressures of increased workload, static or declining budgets, and limited public and political support, six strategic trends have emerged. These trends characterize the efforts of probation and parole to meet their mandates and improve their effectiveness.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been stalemated in their attempts to reauthorize the nation’s welfare bill. The stalemate between the House (following the administration’s lead) and the Senate over work requirements, childcare dollars and superwaivers has left the original welfare bill unchanged through several “continuing resolutions.” In the meantime, states’ welfare programs have weathered an economic downturn. While nationwide caseloads continued to decline, some states experienced significant increases in their caseloads. While all states funded a broad array of services as well as basic assistance through their welfare programs, there was considerable variation in funding emphasis. States’ flexibility could be curtailed in the future, however, if reauthorization proceeds along the lines proposed.