Capitol Comments

The Council of State Governments officially opened its renovated national headquarters in Lexington, Ky., Monday, Aug. 31, with a rededication and ribbon-cutting ceremony that included CSG leaders, staff and members.

David Adkins, CSG's executive director, said the new building fosters collaboration and communication as the council continues to empower state leaders.

The process for U.S. military servicemembers and other citizens overseas to vote in federal, state and local elections is benefiting from some much-needed enhancements, according to elections experts and federal officials at a session presented by CSG’s Overseas Voting Initiative Monday.

“The process of overseas voting has been drastically improved in recent years,” said Mark Raugust, voting action officer for the U.S. Department of State. 

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.

What happens in the Arctic doesn’t necessarily stay in the Arctic.

That was the theme Saturday at the CSG West WESTRENDS Board meeting, where legislators, academics and private sector representatives came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities for the region as it experiences significant change, as well as the implications for other states and neighboring countries.

“Alaska makes this country an Arctic nation. All states should have an interest in the Arctic, because it will benefit all states,” said Alaska Rep. Bob Herron.

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.