The State of State Addresses: Settling in for the Long Haul1
Governors were more likely this year than last to address a broader range of issues in their state of the state addresses. At least two-thirds of them considered five issues in 2013, compared to just three issues in 2012. Education, jobs and taxes remain hot topics, but health care and public safety also moved up the list. Health care was the second most mentioned issue by governors this year, not a surprise since the start date for implementation of the Affordable Care Act is less than a year away. Also, governors’ consideration of gun control and safety issues was not unlikely given the tragic mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut in 2012. Governors seemed hesitant to pursue expansive budget and policy agendas, recognizing that fiscal recovery from the Great Recession will remain sluggish.
Career technical education is a vital part of education improvement efforts and will play a vital role in enhancing the nation’s economy by providing skills preparation aligned to current and future labor market demands. Career technical education provides a robust opportunity for meeting the labor and education demands of the global economy.
Governors continue to be in the forefront of governmental activity in the 21st century. They are in the middle of addressing the problems facing the country’s weak economy. The demands on governors to propose state budgets and keep them in balance have continued to increase greatly during the ongoing recession as severe revenue shortfalls have hit the states. This places severe limits on the states’ abilities to address the many growing needs of people and businesses trying to live through such tough times. The varying political viewpoints on what and how state government should work on this continuing set of problems only makes it harder for elected leaders to achieve agreements over policy needs and governmental responsibilities.
Family caregivers are the backbone of our nation’s system of long-term services and supports for older adults and people with disabilities. The economic value of their contributions is estimated at $450 billion per year. It is critical that states support the efforts of these caregivers, to help them avoid burn out and protect their own health.
With more and more people relying on smartphones and tablet computers to conduct their everyday business, mobility is rapidly becoming a must-have capability for state government agencies, including election offices. State efforts to transform and modernize voting through mobile technology took center stage during the 2012 presidential election cycle, with the introduction of new smartphone apps, tablet voting programs and emergency texting options for voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy. This article outlines some of the key state mobile initiatives for the 2012 election cycle, along with some potential options that may enhance the voting experience in the future.
Innovation is the buzzword of this economic recovery: Two-thirds of our gross domestic product growth is attributed to it and jobs in these industries pay 70 percent more than other jobs. Yet politicians have a difficult time pulling away from traditional economic development programs that focus on shovel-ready projects or consumption-driven programs like Cash for Clunkers. Part of this reluctance, I believe, stems from a misunderstanding of what innovation actually is.
The Internet has transformed everything we do—from buying groceries to boarding an airplane—and has emerged as the engine of a new global economy. Its growth is fueled by a set of emerging technologies and business models that are challenging our ability to control how and with whom our personal information is shared, as well as changing our understanding of privacy. These developments in technology and enterprise have created new privacy risks for individuals and corporations. Attorneys general are seeking the best ways to manage those risks by investigating, educating and advocating for meaningful online protections and controls that protect our privacy while also protecting the growth of this new economy. The attorneys general also are tracking implementation of the national $25 billion mortgage
servicing settlement they reached last year to bring relief to homeowners.
The nation’s state treasurers provide financial management and accountability for a wide variety of public funds. In many states, they also work to safeguard the financial interests of citizens through professional management of college savings plans, unclaimed property programs and professional debt management efforts.