Book of the States 2006

This article focuses on the representation of women as leaders of state administrative agencies and a comparison of women within state legislatures. We begin with aggregate trends in representation from 1970 to 2004. We then classify trends on a state-by-state basis. Finally, we compare state government to other private and public sectors of American society.

The United States and Canada have the largest and most diverse bilateral economic relationship in the world. Even though the national governments establish the broad policy parameters in their respective federal systems, state, provincial, and municipal governments are becoming more actively involved in cross-border relations. This proliferation of trans-border linkages among subnational governments can be expected to accelerate in the future.

Congress reauthorized the nation’s welfare bill along with the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The legislation substantially changes TANF’s work participation requirements. States will need to meet a 50 percent participation rate for all families receiving assistance, including those in separate state-funded programs. The rate will be adjusted downward for any caseload decline occurring after 2005. The new participation requirement will present a challenge to many states. Current work participation rates generally fall substantially below the new requirement. Also, many states have depleted their TANF reserve funds, leaving them little flexibility to develop new strategies to increase work among caseload participants.

The clash over cash to corporate projects is headed to the country’s highest court, and is also the subject of a new bill in Congress. What emerges from those two branches of the federal  government may go a long way toward solving state and corporate uncertainty about incentive programs. Details of a case in North Carolina may offer some guidance as to what lies ahead.

While the national economy began to ease its way out of the recession two years after economists declared an end to the debilitating condition, state economic development organizations continued their ardent efforts to further economic development in 2005 as though the recession was still nipping at the nation’s heels. States’ ardent drive for local economic advancement expanded in several areas, from increased efforts to lure filmmakers to developing comprehensive information Web site portals for businesses seeking to relocate.