Policy Area

As the state’s chief state legal officer, the attorney general commonly serves as the most visible and influential state official in the fight against crime. In recent years, multistate efforts by attorneys general have increased their visibility, power, influence and success in enforcement efforts in a number of complex legal areas impacting all areas of public life.

Both a slow economy and tax policies contributed to the recent state fiscal crises. Tax rate increases and one time revenue sources can solve temporary budget deficits, but maintaining the integrity of income and sales tax bases is necessary to prevent structural deficits.  Extending the sales tax to selected services, participating in the Streamlined Sales Tax Project, and requiring corporate combined reporting are among the potential solutions discussed by the authors.

Despite the slow turnaround of the economy, states are still faced with the challenge of maintaining and creating new jobs. Around the country state governments and economic development organizations are relying on proven programs and are challenging themselves to develop new ones in an effort to attract businesses to their areas and encourage expansion among existing local companies.

The U.S. Congress passed landmark legislation in 2002 that was intended to improve the administration of elections in this country. The nation’s chief state election officials are  working now to implement those reforms, despite the fact that much-anticipated federal guidance is late and promised federal funds may never arrive.

State and local governments face significant impacts from fundamental federal income tax reform, including new budget costs and the effective loss of revenue choices. It is hard to pin down the precise nature of these implications prior to congressional action. At the least, any discussion of federal tax reform legislation deserves careful scrutiny by state and local officials because there are significant fiscal federalism implications.

Over the next 20 years U.S. consumption of oil and gas is expected to increase by at least onethird, while prices decline somewhat in real terms from today’s high levels. Dependence on foreign imports of oil and gas is expected to increase as domestic production declines.

Lieutenant governors lead today and prepare for tomorrow. Most have significant state leadership roles and all are first in line of succession to become governor. The 2004 election factors and results indicate this office is continuing to grow in influence and that lieutenant governors will further impact state legislative trends and governments.

Systems are battling back utilizing new plan structures, alternative investments, and corporate activism to improve their fiscal positions. The recent recession and current demographic trends have had a serious impact on state-administered public employee retirement systems. This article will present information about the current condition of state-administered public employee retirement systems, the problems they face, and the solutions they are employing.

This article provides an overview of several systematic factors contributing to the variation in faculty salaries. Institutional type is the most significant factor in determining faculty salaries overall; faculty members are also differentiated according to academic rank. Two other  important factors are gender and region, and several individual factors are also identified. The article also discusses several policy issues related to the decline in state funding for higher education.

The amount of staff support assigned to the governor’s office varies considerably from state to state. Staffing levels tend to be higher in states where the scope and complexity of work facing state government is greater and in states where the Progressive Era reforms to foster direct democracy have not been adopted.