Policy Area

Despite dire predictions that there would be major failures in 2006, state and local jurisdictions made the process come together exceedingly well. Ordinarily when a major change is ordered by Congress or a state legislature, it takes three decent-size elections to make the policy and procedure adjustments necessary to make the process work smoothly. Massive changes in virtually every part of the process were accomplished in this election cycle.

While enjoying an unprecedented level of cooperation in recent years on numerous cross- border policy issues, the United States and Mexico face important challenges that will affect the long-term prosperity of North America. These challenges include the need for both countries to address the contentious issue of immigration, promote a shared vision for competitiveness in the 21st century and give government the tools to manage binational concerns along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Propositions again were a prominent feature on ballots in 2006, with voters in 37 states deciding on 226 statewide measures. The number of citizen-initiated measures, 79, was the third highest ever. The most common issues were eminent domain (12 states) and same-sex marriage (nine states). Michigan voters approved a measure to ban the use of racial preferences, and South Dakota voters repealed an abortion ban.

Strong tax collections in recent years have bolstered state treasuries and paved the way for initiatives in health care and education reforms. However, states are likely to face challenges from slowing tax collections, a resumption in Medicaid’s traditional spending growth, pressures in K-12 education, and new accounting requirements for employee health benefits.

After several years during which the number of state constitutional amendments had dropped from previous levels, amendment activity increased slightly, in that the number of amendments proposed in 2006 equaled the number of amendments proposed in 2004 and 2005 combined, and the number of amendments adopted in 2006 exceeded the total for 2004–05. Eight states enacted amendments prohibiting legalization of same-sex marriage, and another eight states approved amendments restricting use of the eminent domain power for private purposes. Multiple states approved amendments increasing the minimum wage and regulating the use of tobacco settlement funds. Also of note were a Michigan amendment banning affirmative action, a Missouri amendment ensuring continuation of embryonic stem cell research, and a Florida amendment requiring future constitutional changes to obtain 60 percent of the popular vote.

In recent years the movement of women into state-level offices has slowed following several decades of gains. This pattern of stagnation did not change following the 2006 elections which produced only modest changes—most positive but some negative—in the numbers of women officials. Efforts to actively recruit women for elected and appointed positions will be critical in determining what the future holds for women in state government.

CSG South

This report was prepared for The Council of State Governments Financial Services Working Group by Dwight V. Denison, Merl M. Hackbart, Juita-Eleana (Wie) Yusuf, and Jay H. Song of the University of Kentucky's Martin School for Public Policy and Administration.

Rapidly expanding proportions of retail- and business-related payments, traditionally made by cash and check, are now being made electronically through Automated Clearing House (ACH) or using credit or debit cards. Increasingly, the shift to electronic payments is also occurring in the public sector. The principal purpose of this study was to determine current state government acceptance and use of electronic tax and fee payments. Related purposes included an analysis of policies and procedures implemented by the states to more effectively facilitate and manage electronic payment processes.

A vital tool for policymakers across the region, Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) offer a snapshot of conditions on a number of issues. Published annually, the CDRs track a multitude of revenue sources, appropriations levels, and performance measures in Southern states, and provide a useful tool to state government officials and staff. CDRs are available for adult correctional systems, comparative revenues and revenue forecasts, education, Medicaid, and transportation.

A vital tool for policymakers across the region, Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) offer a snapshot of conditions on a number of issues. Published annually, the CDRs track a multitude of revenue sources, appropriations levels, and performance measures in Southern states, and provide a useful tool to state government officials and staff. CDRs are available for adult correctional systems, comparative revenues and revenue forecasts, education, Medicaid, and transportation.

A vital tool for policymakers across the region, Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) offer a snapshot of conditions on a number of issues. Published annually, the CDRs track a multitude of revenue sources, appropriations levels, and performance measures in Southern states, and provide a useful tool to state government officials and staff. CDRs are available for adult correctional systems, comparative revenues and revenue forecasts, education, Medicaid, and transportation.

Pages