A vital tool for policymakers across the region, Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) offer a snapshot of conditions on a number of issues. Published annually, the CDRs track a multitude of revenue sources, appropriations levels, and performance measures in Southern states, and provide a useful tool to state government officials and staff. CDRs are available for adult correctional systems, comparative revenues and revenue forecasts, education, Medicaid, and transportation.

A vital tool for policymakers across the region, Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) offer a snapshot of conditions on a number of issues. Published annually, the CDRs track a multitude of revenue sources, appropriations levels, and performance measures in Southern states, and provide a useful tool to state government officials and staff. CDRs are available for adult correctional systems, comparative revenues and revenue forecasts, education, Medicaid, and transportation.

CSG South

Throughout America’s history, there has been protracted debate over the best method of selecting judges. The dilemma has been how to select judges by means consistent with the nation’s democratic values, and at the same time insulating the bench from political and special interest influence. The debate has come to the forefront in recent years as judicial elections in a number of states have become increasingly costly, contested and negative. This Southern Legislative Conference Regional Resource examines state judicial selection methods, primarily in the South, along with the opinions of several legal scholars and practitioners.

CSG South

In December 1999, the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Order No. 2000, requiring all public utilities that own, operate or control interstate transmission facilities to file a proposal or a progress report on how they would create or join a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), or to describe any barriers to joining or forming such a group. In short, an RTO acts as an umbrella organization that brings all public utility transmission systems within a region under common control, and FERC had hoped to complete the RTO formation process by December 12, 2001.

CSG South

On November 7 and 8, 2003, legislators and policymakers from across the South met in Point Clear, Alabama, for the 2003 SLC Rural Forum, an open discussion on the status and future of the rural South. Through the two days of discussion, participants were asked to identify the most critical concerns for rural areas, the potential partners for addressing these concerns, and the appropriate role for state government in improving the condition of the rural South.

CSG South

This presentation discusses some of the actions taken by states in grappling with the serious fiscal challenges that have arisen in the past few years. It consists of two interconnected parts. Part I looks at broad national economic trends and some trends at the state level. Part II delves into some of the more innovative strategies adopted by policymakers to overcome the budget shortfalls that have plagued states for almost four consecutive years now.

Privatization continues to be a controversial management issue in state governments. In the past five years, 1997-2002, the extent of privatization activities in the states has largely remained the same as in the previous five years or slightly increased. The main reasons for privatization are a lack of personnel or expertise and cost savings. In most cases, privatized services account for less than 5 percent of agency services, while reported costs savings range from none to less than 5 percent. But many state agency directors surveyed seem to have no clear ideas as to how much has been actually saved from privatization. Nevertheless, privatization is likely to continue in the states in the next few years as in the past decade.

The American federal system has been shaken by the impact of recent traumatic events, especially the threats to homeland security and the states’ fiscal crises. These developments have produced deep seated tensions across a wide range of intergovernmental relationships. Recent trends toward coercive relations may be ameliorated by strategies fostering contingent collaboration.

2002 was a major election year for legislatures, with over 85 percent of all seats up for election, resulting in more than 26 percent turnover among legislators in election states. The Republican Party netted more than 175 legislative seats across the country and wound up with more seats than the Democrats for the first time in 50 years. Republicans now hold control of 21 state legislatures, compared to 16 for the Democrats. Twelve legislatures are split between the two parties and Nebraska is nonpartisan.

The states’ current fiscal crisis is due not only to the country’s economic downturn but also to changes in fiscal federalism that have exposed state fiscal systems to the impacts of federal policymaking, economic developments and demographic changes to greater degrees than in the past. Essentially, the states face growing long-term contradictions between escalating spending pressures and eroding tax bases over which states have only limited control. Short-term crisis-management actions, such as cutting spending, increasing taxes, accelerating tax collections, delaying bill payments, expanding gambling and using up reserves, are damaging, stopgap tactics. Long-term solutions will require more fundamental remedial fiscal reform by both the federal government and the states.

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