Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a drug abuse prevention and treatment bill 94-1. The New York Times reported it is the biggest bill on the topic since 2008, when Congress mandated insurance coverage for addiction treatment.

The overwhelming bi-partisan support for the bill underlined the growing attention to the very real increase in overdose deaths due to prescription drug abuse and heroin use. Governors talked with President Obama about the same topic during the National Governors’ Association meeting in February. In a CSG analysis of 2016 governors' state of the state addresses, substance abuse and drug overdoses figured prominantly as key themes. 

A February 2016 CSG Capitol Research Brief provides the latest data on overdose deaths by state. Fourteen states had a statistically significant increase in overdose deaths from prescription drug abuse and heroin use from 2013 to 2014, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state prison populations have grown significantly over the last few decades and in 36 states, the prison population has more than tripled as a share of the state population since 1978.  Spending on corrections has also increased in states: state corrections spending more than doubled between 1986 and 2013 (after adjusting for inflation), from $20 billion to over $47 billion.   

The Zika virus in Central and South America and the Caribbean seems to be connected to an astoundingly high number of babies in Brazil being born with microcephaly, a congenital brain defect that causes under development of head and brain size. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel warning for 22 locations as of Jan. 22, 2016. The CDC especially recommends that pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant reconsider travel. All known cases of Zika in the U.S. have been linked to travel,...

Federal spending plays a significant role in state budgets and economies. In recent years, the percentage of state revenues coming from Washington, D.C., to the states has fluctuated, largely due to the end of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—or stimulus—dollars and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

While the economy and the housing market has improved since the recession, some states are still recovering. Many states are focused on helping homeowners who are falling behind to help them avoid foreclosure. States like Florida, Georgia and Washington have found success in programs to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.