2013 CSG National Conference

On Aug. 14, 2003, the lights went out throughout the Northeastern and Midwestern regions of the U.S. and Ontario, affecting 50 million people. The outage, which started when tree limbs hit transmission lines in Ohio and cascaded across eight states, demonstrated the vulnerability of the electric grid system in the U.S.

Big data is good, but rich data is even better.

That’s the message data guru Nate Silver shared during his luncheon keynote address Friday.

“Size means something but you also want variety … observations collected under a wide variety of conditions,” said Silver, “data that empowers better decisions.”

If she were a governor today, Kathleen Sebelius would take the Medicaid expansion the federal government is offering.

Sebelius, a former Kansas governor and the current secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said it just makes fiscal sense for states.

The situation is bad between federal and state governments and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better anytime soon.

The Council of State Governments’ Focus on Federalism Task Force conducted its first meeting Saturday with a hearing focusing on how intergovernmental relations have gotten so bad and what can be done about it. The task force is a two-year effort of CSG.

A panel of state legislators, executive branch officials and economic development practitioners came together to discuss recent fiscal and economic trends in the states and highlight case studies in differing state approaches to economic development. In addition, a new CSG publication, "Chairman's Report: State Business Incentives," was released and a panel discussed the benefits and drawbacks to using business incentives to encourage economic growth and job creation.