Executive Branch

The National Bureau of Economic Research determined the end of the Great Recession in June 2009 because, “the trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion.”2 Now three years into an expansion, governors are beating the bushes for ways to stretch a dollar. This year, governors presented many ideas for keeping government going, though primarily in the areas of education and economic development. Chief executives did not shy away from talking about revenues, though most of this talk addressed the creation of tax credits, exemptions or incentives to promote job creation. Continued fiscal stress in the states is evidenced by the fact that for the second straight year, the number of issues addressed by at least two-thirds of governors declined. Governors exhibit “funnel vision” as fiscal malaise continues; they have honed down their budget and policy agendas and focus on just the most primary of state functions.

Chapter 4 of the 2012 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

The Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) notes “placement agents have been in the news in [Kentucky and] a few other states in recent years because they donated money to political campaigns in order to gain access to the retirement system in that state." 

Have you ever had the pleasure of reading the Federal Register? For those that have to decipher, translate, and live with the implications of federal rulemakings, trying to understand them can cause significant frustration or perhaps be a cure for insomnia. Here's hoping that a recent announcement by Cass Sunstein, the Director of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, will offer state governments some future relief.

The president’s recently released deficit reduction plan includes a strategy to increase the solvency of state’s unemployment trust funds and to provide some fiscal relief for those states that have borrowed from the federal government to cover their unemployment insurance costs.

Lieutenant governors are often the first in line of succession when a governor leaves office in the middle of a term. But that’s not always the case. Lieutenant governors may obtain duties through gubernatorial appointment, statute, the Constitution, direct democracy action or personal initiative.

    When former West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2010, he set off a chain of events not seen in the state for 140 years. That’s the last time a vacancy occurred in the governor’s office and the last time the state had to consider its line of succession.

    The recent economic recession has affected gubernatorial priorities. In the past five years, education has remained the primary focus of governors, but other traditional state functions have slipped off their radar. December 2007 was the official start of the Great Recession. In that year, the four issues most often discussed by governors in their state of state addresses after education, in descending order, were health care, natural resources, jobs and corrections. This year, the four top issues on the minds of governors after education, also in descending order, are jobs, government performance, taxes and health care. In fact, since 2007, corrections and public safety have not been in the top five issues for governors. Natural resources and energy concerns do not appear in the top five for either this year or last year. This research examines the 2011 state of state addresses of U.S. governors to explain their ideas for continuing to manage through the economic recession.1 Findings indicate a more focused consideration of education reform and job development, sustained attention on cost-cutting and efficiency measures, and continued gubernatorial intransigence regarding “no new taxes.”

    The office of lieutenant governor constantly evolves to offer the greatest service and value to a state. For more than 200 years, states have found no more clear and viable line of gubernatorial succession than the office of lieutenant governor. A lieutenant governor may garner duties and authorities from the constitution, from statute, through gubernatorial appointment, through personal initiative or through a combination of these. This allows the office to evolve to lead on issues of the day or to address unique needs of the state. Electoral provisions, gubernatorial and legislative relationships, assigned duties, office structure and succession law itself impacts the efficiency and effectiveness of the office of lieutenant governor.

    Secretaries of state are warning about the increasing risk of business identity theft as the problem spreads across the states. Criminals have been altering online business records housed by their offices and using them to open up phony lines of credit to illegally obtain valuable goods and services. Secretaries of state are working to establish new safeguards against such fraud, as they alert state legislators and other key stakeholders about the magnitude of the issue.