This essay describes some recent patterns of state financial activity – how the state governments obtain their revenues, the types of activities on which they expend their resources, their reliance on economic resources such as borrowing and the state of their financial assets. The analysis relies primarily on data from U.S. Census Bureau surveys of state and local government finances, the most complete set of comparative information available. It is primarily a retrospective look, using the information for fiscal year 2000 and comparing that with trends from prior years. The final section looks at a few present-day issues and prospects for state finances.

During the past 10 years, states have become the primary environmental-protection stewards of the nation. Five policy indicators show the growth of the states’ role: delegated programs, fiscal commitments, enforcement of environmental laws, development of innovative programs and contributions to environmental information. This article reviews research conducted over the past 15 years at The Council of State Governments, the Environmental Council of the States and elsewhere that documents this growth.

The most innovative and productive state agencies do not simply execute one good program. Rather, they integrate advanced management techniques into a comprehensive approach to productivity improvement. Productive state-government agencies stress multiple measures: internal capacities, outputs produced and outcomes achieved. They use performance measurement and evaluation to help establish goals and measure results, estimate and justify resource requirements, reallocate resources, develop organization-improvement strategies and motivate employees to improve performance.

The number of states engaged in amending and revising their constitutions in 2000-2001 was the lowest in 30 years. Legislative and constitutional initiatives were the only methods used to amend state constitutions during the biennium, and three states accounted for almost half of the proposed amendments. While some constitutional trends continued from the 1990s, there were also notable differences.

Chapter 7 of the 2002 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

This article traces the governorship in recent decades. It examines who the governors are, how they became governors and some of their recent political history. The author discusses the timing and costs of gubernatorial elections, as well as the powers these officials have and the  priorities of our current governors. Finally, the article points out the need for continuing efforts to reorganize state executive branches across the country, especially as states continue to maintain a myriad of other separately elected executive-branch officials.

Chapter 8 of the 2002 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Chapter 4 of the 2002 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

If Americans do not have faith in the election process, then it will be impossible for them to believe in the government that results from that process. This fundamental truth is why it is critical for state legislators and policymakers to examine current circumstances and make necessary changes to ensure the health and well being of the electoral process. This article examines the roles of state and local governments in election reform and recommends 12 minimum state-level reforms. The author examines challenges states will face in the future.

Medicaid is a broad and multifaceted program that is jointly financed by the federal and state governments in order to address the needs of low-income families, the elderly and those with chronic, disabling health conditions. It is an essential part of the health coverage and financing system in every state and is the largest source of federal financial assistance to the states. Balancing the growing responsibilities for coverage of vulnerable populations with fiscal realities will undoubtedly be a major challenge in the years ahead.

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