2015 CSG National Conference

Postsecondary education representatives, business leaders and policymakers continued a conversation about workforce development Dec. 10 spurred by the August release of The Council of State Governments’ report, “A Framework for State Policymakers: Developing Pathways to Ensure a Skilled Workforce for State Prosperity.” The report outlines recommendations for state-level policies that help ensure students are prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce.

Struggling from years of insufficient contributions, combined with longer-living retiree populations, many states face mounting public pension liabilities without sufficient assets to cover them. But states aren’t sitting idly by. Public pension reform has been a major topic of conversation in statehouses across the country, and was the focus of the CSG Public Pensions and Retirement Security policy academy Dec. 10.

While some states have not yet resolved their public pension problems, Keith Brainard of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators said that the pension outlook for most states is improving—in part due to recent pension reforms.

The use of electronic cigarettes—or “vaping”—has exploded in recent years among both youth and adults. In the absence of clear federal regulations, state policymakers have struggled with how best to approach the taxation and regulation of the devices. Attendees heard from state leaders, experts, law enforcement and federal representatives who will discuss how states are currently taxing e-cigarettes and restricting their sales to minors. The presenters also described what the future may hold for regulating consumption and marketing and manufacturing devices.

It’s not a matter of whether or not a cybersecurity breach—affecting either a private or public institution—will happen, but when. Experts warn that both the frequency of cybersecurity threats and their level of sophistication will continue to increase, and state leaders need to know what they are facing. This session explored what state leaders need to know about cybersecurity threats to make informed decisions, anticipate challenges, share information, and define roles and responsibilities.

Civics education stands at the core of what it takes to equip citizens with the knowledge and willingness to become community, state, national and international leaders. Without such civic fundamentals, the youth of today may not vote or run for public office tomorrow, and the future participation of citizens in America’s grand democratic experiment is called into question. As part of CSG’s ongoing work to explore the challenges of federalism, this session featured experts and policymakers to discuss how states are teaching future generations about the role of state and federal governments and civic engagement.

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