2013 CSG National Conference

The passage of MAP-21, the federal surface transportation authorization bill, in 2012 brought with it a host of policy changes but little in the way of long-term funding security for states trying to meet their growing infrastructure needs. Perhaps partially in reaction, an unprecedented number of states—including Missouri—explored new transportation revenue options in 2013. Meanwhile, bridge collapses earlier this year in Washington state and Missouri once again brought into sharp focus what’s at stake in finding new funding to fix old facilities. This session explored how Missouri is hoping to shape its transportation future, how a new emphasis on performance measurement under MAP-21 will impact states and how the state of the nation’s aging infrastructure makes it a critical time for transportation policy.

The Presidents’ Forum of Excelsior College, The Council of State Governments, the Commission on Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education and the four regional higher education compacts have been working to develop an effective framework to simplify and streamline the process for authorizing online degree programs operating across state lines. Attendees learned about the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, a voluntary agreement for both states and institutions intended to allow states and institutions to work together to easily offer online degree programs across state lines, during this education session.

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, 2012, many state policymakers have asked critical questions about school safety and violence prevention. States convened task forces and debated various policy issues to keep students safe during the 2013 legislative sessions. This session focused on evidence-based public policy reform in mental health, education and emergency response as a way to address these critical issues. Agenda topics included mental health issues such as screening, early diagnosis and treatment, and violence prevention in schools.

At this fun and informative event attendees were able to visit and tour Kansas City Power & Light’s state-of-the-art smart grid facility, which includes advanced generation, distribution and customer technologies. The site demonstrated how co-located renewable energy sources, such as solar power, feeds into the grid that serves roughly 14,000 commercial and residential customers.

Across the country, tuition costs are soaring, student debt is at a crisis level and college completion rates are shockingly low. In an increasingly globalized world, higher education remains essential for states and nations wishing to remain competitive. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Brazilian Ambassador Mauro Vieira discussed current challenges in education and highlight opportunities for international engagement in sharing best practices and resources for educating future generations.