There were many issues facing governors in 2014. Even as the stock market rebounded and state budgets grew at a moderate pace, unemployment and underemployment remained high. Public discontent with government has been indiscriminate in its focus, levied at not only politicians in Washington, but also those in state capitals. This led to political fallout from voters as they vented their anger and frustration on elected leaders on Election Day.1
Tens of millions of Americans have criminal records, and for even the most qualified among them, finding a job can be incredibly difficult. When these people remain unemployed, it’s bad for them, certainly, but also bad for their communities. Thus, a number of states and localities have adopted so-called “Fair Hiring” practices, which seek to ensure job applicants with criminal records can show a potential employer their qualifications before being required to reveal their criminal histories.
Credit for Prior Learning is gaining traction as one strategy for advancing postsecondary degree attainment. While much progress has been made in institutions across the U.S., challenges remain in the widespread acceptance and application of prior learning to provide transfer pathways. State and regional collaborations offer promising models.
Mixed messages of the current economy keep at bay a full recovery from the Great Recession that officially ended in June 2009. The drop in oil prices has put money in consumers’ pockets, but these consumers seem wary of returning it into circulation, with many using the extra cash to pay off or reduce personal debt. In some ways, governors are similarly disposed as they map the policy and budget way forward for their respective states. Several chief executives are asking for more stringent laws, constitutional requirements, for budget balance or regarding the payment of debt, to keep their states on a path toward fiscal sustainability. Watch words this year include “cautious optimism” and “continuous improvement.”1
Grand juries historically were responsible for formally charging felony defendants in federal courts and in many state courts. Their role has changed very little to the present. However, recent events have caused some to question whether they are still a necessary component of those systems. The article below addresses the pros and cons of the modern grand jury process, as well as describing its historical roots.