Policy Area

Congress enacted the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002. Supporters of HAVA would indicate that it is one of the few times that the federal government has established a national program that relies on the states to determine the best methods of implementing the mandates and goals, while opponents would point to its lack of clear direction and clear authority of the federal government to determine whether a program is meeting its objectives.

While recent economic news suggests that the short-term cyclical fiscal hemorrhage is healing, long-term structural challenges still exist that must be examined to enable states to weather the next fiscal storm. State officials will have the opportunity and challenge to pursue durable strategies that will improve fiscal stability.

The difficulty in drawing meaningful comparisons and identifying trends in standards created as a remedy to ethics concerns within the states is compounded by significant differences in the manner in which jurisdictions define “ethics” and regulate oversight. Conflicts of interest related to gifts and gratuities, and arising from family and unique private sector relationships, represent continuing ethics trends across the nation.

In 2003, governors brought their citizens up short, recognizing the precarious position of their governments and then calling on the federal government to provide relief. The federal government did come forward with some $20 billion in funds to states. These funds, along with numerous other tax and spending initiatives allowed the states to stay afloat, albeit just barely. Today, the revenue picture is a bit brighter, but not strong enough for governors to snap fiscal ships into autopilot. Many governors have now gone back to their public after a stormy year, and few are talking about federal relief.

While 2002 was a year of tremendous change for the emergency management community, year 2003 represents a “settling in” period for the implications of homeland security on the nation’s level of preparedness for all hazards. Threats to traditional funding for emergency management and an influx of federal grants funds for everything from haz-mat suits to radio equipment are creating unique challenges for states as they try to maintain a focus on  allhazards preparedness.

Women have significantly increased their numbers among state government officials over the past several decades. However, despite a recent increase in the number of women governors, women’s progress, especially at the statewide elective and state legislative levels, has slowed.  The future for women in state government would seem to depend, at least in part, upon the strength of efforts to actively recruit women for elective and appointive positions.

Several systematic factors contribute 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. This article also discusses two policy issues: the widening gap between salaries at private institutions and those in the public sector; and the continuing salary disadvantage faced by women faculty.

CSG South

Every year, states anxiously await the announcement of their students’ performance on the Scholastic Aptitude Test I (SAT), largely because these scores provide a yardstick for measuring progress toward school improvement and for assessing student performance. Alongside state assessments, the SAT often is cited as a benchmark toward the end goal of raising student achievement. But the information provided by SAT scores is more complex than the customary ranking of state composite scores by news organizations and the resulting crowing or hand wringing over high or low results. The SAT, like the other major college entrance exam the ACT, is a self-selecting assessment. Participation is not universal among all students and, indeed, it is generally taken by students who intend to continue to a four-year college. For these reasons, the SAT provides an excellent source of information about how well states compare in preparing students for college-level work in a broad range of contexts. This Regional Resource analyzes results from the 2003 SAT I, with particular attention to how students in various subsets perform compared to their peers in other states and to other subgroups within their state.

CSG South

The airline industry serves not just as an economic engine for states, cities and regions, but as a cog in the essential network of transportation within the United States. Yet the industry finds itself in a very difficult period. With the new focus on homeland security in the United States, exacerbated by war, the terrorist attacks of 2001, a downturn in the economy, and anomalies such as the SARS virus, the airline industry has found itself in a state of turmoil, loss and great trepidation. With the industry especially important to its birthplace, the Southern region, this report highlights the contributions of carriers to local and regional economies and the challenges that face them in Southern states.

CSG South

Ports across the United States play a critical role in the nation's economic life, impacting directly and indirectly at all levels-national, regional, state and local. By facilitating the nation's water transportation needs and serving as the initial point of contact for waterborne cargo, both domestic and foreign, ports are an integral component of the country's economic calculations. This presentation, given to the Warrior-TomBigbee Waterway Association, discusses the record of and challenges faced by ports in the Southern region.

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