As budgets remain strained, state leaders continue to look for new and better ways to allocate scarce resources. While performance-based budgeting is not a new strategy, some states are giving the concept a closer look.
“In recent years, there has been renewed interest in performance-focused strategies, largely because of frustrations from the recession. State leaders had to make painful cuts, and were often frustrated that they couldn’t determine what current programs were accomplishing and which ones produced the greatest returns on investment for citizens,” said Gary VanLandingham, director of Results First, an initiative the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation created to assist states with implementing a cost-benefit approach to policy decisions.
Article by Mike Heavican, Chief Justice, Nebraska Supreme Court and 2012 CSG Toll Fellow
The core mission of all courts is the delivery of justice in a fair and timely manner. Justice may be as mundane as paying a traffic fine or as significant as protecting the constitutional rights of an accused in a capital case. Increasingly, “fair and timely,” both in paying those traffic fines and in protecting the rights of the accused, depends on technology
When legislators return to their statehouses, the usual suspects of concern will be waiting for them—and some new areas that have been waiting in the wings will rear their heads as well.
States face looming fiscal problems in Medicaid, public pensions and budget gaps, as well as unemployment issues—both in the number of unemployed people who won’t receive benefits after federal extensions end and continued unemployment trust fund insolvency. That doesn’t even touch the problems of funding the everyday services constituents have come to expect.
Delaware House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf chairs several committees, including House Administration and Rules committees. He served in the minority party for years and learned lessons in that role. A former state police officer in Dover, Schwartzkopf believes the no-nonsense approach to police work also applies to chairing a legislative committee.
Mike Allen, Politico’s chief political correspondent, believes state leaders can learn a lot from the 2012 elections. Although the 2013 Congress is likely to be even more polarized, he offers some hope for states still trying to rebuild after the Great Recession.
CSG Justice Center Training Curriculum Blends Online Learning, Live Activities
Research shows people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance abuse issues enter local jails three to six times more often than the general population. That creates a challenge for the nation’s criminal courts.
“The cycling of individuals with mental illnesses through our criminal justice system is a critical issue with implications for public safety, health and expenditures, not to mention the lives of millions across the country,” said Ruby Qazilbash, associate deputy director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Paula Flowers uses lyrics from a popular trucking song to describe the current situation on the establishment of health insurance exchanges.
States, she said, “have a long way to go and a short time to get there.”
Flowers, a former Tennessee insurance commissioner who now works as a consultant, said states can choose from three options under the federal Affordable Care Act—a state-based exchange, a federal exchange or the partnership model—but they’ll all arrive at the starting gate at the same time.
After economic growth proved slower than anticipated in 2012, the key question most economists have been asking is this: Will growth in 2013 accelerate to a point that the U.S. will begin to make a meaningful dent in unemployment and close other gaps in the economy that emerged after the so-called Great Recession? Most economists expect a stronger level of growth in 2013, but few are calling for real gross domestic product growth of more than 2.5 percent to 3 percent. While this level of growth would certainly help, it would still continue the trend of the economy only slowly returning to pre-recession growth levels. For states, this will likely lead to revenue growth that will be moderate at best.
Jolt to Economy, Lack of Details and Flexibility Create Problems for States
Stephen Fuller likens the pending budget cuts from sequestration to crash dieting.
“There’s a couple of ways to lose 40 pounds,” he said. “Going on a starvation diet is one of them. That’s sequestration. (Then there’s) working out and cutting out dessert and not eating so much bread and reducing the portion size—you’re actually stronger and healthier when you get done and you’ve accomplished the same thing.”
It’s no secret that state leaders make good national leaders. Numerous presidents and members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have served in governor’s offices and state legislatures, as well as other executive branch offices, before moving on to Capitol Hill. Three former state leaders—all of whom are alumni of The Council of State Governments’ Henry Toll Fellowship Program and who are completing their freshmen terms in Congress—share lessons they took with them from their service in state capitols and what they are learning in the halls of the U.S. Capitol.