Teaching quality seems likely to remain a state concern for the long-term, even though policymakers will come to see, if they haven't already, that it isn't a magic bullet. The impetus for that continued focus comes not only from the states’ pressing needs for well-qualified teachers, but also from the federal government.

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.

This article synthesizes research findings on organizations registered to lobby state legislatures in the last 20 years. According to data collected and analyzed by the authors, the rapid growth in numbers of registered interests in the 1980s slowed by the end of the 1990s, and institutions became more dominant as a form of organizational representation.

This article reviews the most significant emerging trends in economic development and their ramifications for the states. It focuses on the role of information technology, the increasing regionalization of economic development and the new financing tools available to economic developers and how these tools have helped change the states’ development priorities.

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.

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.

Most states have initiated various cutback-management strategies in the past two years to deal with budget shortfalls and projected deficits. However, restructuring state agencies has emerged as the most popular approach to the current financial crisis. State agencies are likely to continue to privatize some of their programs and services as a cost-saving tool, although the rate of savings has been moderate. A growing number of states are using performance measures in their budgeting, although they are not widely used as an efficiency tool in state agencies.

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.

Congressional preemption of state governments’ regulatory powers dates to 1790, but it generally did not have a major impact until 1965, when the number of preemptive statutes increased sharply. Most congressional preemptions involve commerce, the environment, finance and health. Technological developments and interest group lobbying will result in the enactment of new preemption statutes — particularly in the areas of banking, communications, finance services, insurance and taxation — unless states initiate actions producing harmonious interstate regulatory policies.

Results-based decision-making in state government has gained considerable interest as part of government accountability. Use of outcome information by elected officials and managers in budgeting and improving services to citizens still falls far short of its potential. This article provides suggestions for more effective collection and use of performance information.

Pages