State budget shortfalls are expected to balloon to $82 billion by 2004. What avenues are available for governors to bring about fiscal solvency in the states? This article assesses their plans to navigate this continuing fiscal storm. The author then reviews the state government revenue situation and draws conclusions based on the content of governors’ 2003 state of the state addresses.

The regulation of political money continues to rank high on most states’ list of priorities. Experimentation continues in many areas as reform measures have been adopted both by state legislatures and statewide initiatives. Some discernable trends are clear, including more emphasis on public-funding programs (the “clean elections” movement); regulating the scope, nature and use of contributions; disclosure of political advertisements; stronger enforcement of existing laws and concern regarding independent expenditures.

With continued threats of terrorism facing the country, states are struggling to maintain basic public safety programs while taking on the additional responsibility — and costs — of homeland security. The year 2002 produced a National Strategy for Homeland Security and legislation creating a new federal Department of Homeland Security, but little funding has been provided to support enhanced preparedness efforts by states. It will be important for states to think and plan regionally, utilize mutual aid and leverage limited resources to meet the challenge of making communities safe from terrorism and natural disasters.

Chapter 6 of the 2003 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Chapter 7 of the 2003 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

An assessment of political parties in the legislature shows an imbalance in their performance of the overlapping functions of representation on the one hand and governance on the other. In every respect but mobilizing and educating voters, legislative parties are doing an excellent job representing their constituencies. But the performance of the governance function, and especially the tasks of consensus building and institutional maintenance, is more problematic.

Chapter 8 of the 2003 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Chapter 5 of the 2003 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Chapter 10 of the 2003 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

When it comes to voters’ reactions to initiatives and referenda on the ballot in 2002, “cautious” was the word of the day. Amidst concerns about war, terrorism and the economy, the voters once again defied party labeling and voted their conscience when it came to ballot measures. In a time of great uncertainty, voters picked through the list of statewide ballot measures and systematically made their feelings known, while at the same time not revealing whether their underlying principles lean more liberal or conservative. The great race to categorize the voters’ political beliefs will once again have to wait for another election day.

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