State News

Kentucky Smart Government Initiative to Save $77 Million
By: Kelsey McCoy
The Kentucky Smart Growth Initiative has begun to collect ideas from state employees for how to reduce the state’s operating costs. The Smart Growth Initiative is a collaborative effort of five workgroups who are charged with conducing in-depth reviews of spending in the areas of information technology, transportation services, postal services, state-owned assets, and contracts and procurement. The goal of the initiative is to save the state $77 million over the next two years.

State employees will now be able to submit cost saving ideas through an online Employee Suggestion System. If an employee’s suggestion is implemented, they may be eligible for a monetary reward.
(Contact: Erin Lamos)

North Carolina Lets State Businesses Match Out-of-State Proposals
In order to save and grow jobs in North Carolina, Governor Bev Perdue recently issued an order that will give North Carolina-based businesses a price-matching opportunity when bidding on state contracts for the purchase of goods. Under the new Order, if a North Carolina-based business is not the low bidder on a state contract but submits a bid within a specified range of the low bid from an out-of-state company, that business will receive the opportunity to match the out-of-state bidder’s price and secure the contract. 
(Contact: Erin Andrew)

California Governor Signs Executive Order to Consolidate IT Functions
By: Alisha Powell
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed an executive order that will improve California’s information technology (IT) efficiency as well as cut costs. The executive order will standardize IT governance by defining targets and timelines for IT consolidation and shared services, including: data centers, e-mail and anti-spam/encryption and security services. The order also calls for reduced IT energy usage of 30 percent by 2012 and establishes a framework to ensure state agencies comply with the reduction. By consolidating IT usage, the state expects to save an estimated $1.4 billion.
(Contact: Allison Cullin)

Delaware Cuts Energy Use and Pollution to Save Costs
By: Rachel Escobar
Governor Jack Markell issued an executive order outlining six areas for reducing operating expenses and the environmental impact of state government in Delaware. The key areas are energy conservation and efficiency, construction, renewable energy, transportation, recycling and procurement. Governor Markell outlined specific goals for each of these categories, many with deadlines as soon as 2012, to save the state more than $13 million. The state is taking a lead by example approach, highlighting the economic and environmental benefits of cutting unnecessary energy and resource use.

Under the order, all state agencies will be required to reduce petroleum consumption by 25 percent, vehicle emissions by 25 percent, and vehicle miles traveled by 15 percent as compared with fiscal year 2008 by the end of fiscal year 2012. Delaware will use these new measures, in addition to its already existing fleet reduction programs, to decrease the current expenditures of $13.2 million.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)

Ohio to Make Buying Bio-Based Products a Priority
By: Rachel Escobar
A bill pending in Ohio would require the state to look first to bio-based products, rather than petroleum-based, in their purchasing procedures. The change in procurement priorities stems from the job creation potential of promoting agricultural products grown and manufactured in Ohio in addition to environmental benefits of avoiding petroleum-based products. With this rule in place, farmers would have a larger market in which to sell their products and correspondingly support the state’s economy. The bill would apply to both state agencies and universities.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)

Massachusetts Proposals Seek Lower Costs for Small Business Health Insurance
By: Brian O’Donnell
Governor Deval Patrick has proposed a series of insurance and regulatory reforms aimed at reducing the burden of health care costs on small businesses. The reforms aim to reduce the cost of health insurance by increasing the insurance options available to small businesses, reducing administrative costs and restricting the ability of health insurance companies to raise prices at unreasonable rates. The reform proposals require health insurance companies to file proposed changes in small business premiums with the Division of Insurance (DOI) and give the DOI the authority to:

  • Disapprove rates that are unreasonable in relation to the benefits provided;
  • Presumptively disapprove rates that are significantly above the Consumer Price Index for Medical Care; and
  • Examine small business health insurance premiums and prevent any duplicative or unjustified administrative charges.
In order to encourage small businesses to purchase and keep affordable insurance, Governor Patrick has also proposed giving health insurers the ability to offer biannual open enrollment periods and requiring health insurers in the small group market to offer at least one selective network plan with premiums that are at least 10 percent less expensive that a full network product. Further, the governor has called for a moratorium on new mandated benefit requirements for the small group insurance market.
(Contact: Molly Voris)

Wyoming Proposes Health Care Plan for Low-Income Workers
By: Brian O’Donnell
Governor Dave Freudenthal has proposed a demonstration pilot for subsidized health insurance targeting individuals who work at least 20 hours a week and are under 200 percent of the federal poverty. The pilot program’s insurance design emphasizes personal responsibility and the need to identify health and chronic conditions at the earliest possible stage by utilizing primary and preventive care. To achieve these goals, health insurance under the pilot would:

  • Provide access to preventive services with no or nominal cost sharing;
  • Establish low co-pays for primary care and higher co-pays for specialist care (unless the individual was referred to the specialist from a primary care provider); and
  • Establish a personal health account dually funded by the participant and the state that the participant can use to pay deductibles, co-pays and other qualified expenses.

(Contact: Jason Hsieh)

Colorado Moves to Improve Early Childhood Services
Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado recently issued an executive order aimed at improving the state’s early childhood services through the creation of an Early Childhood Leadership Commission. The order makes $1.3 million available for the commission.

The commission is tasked with aligning existing early childhood service providers and funding streams, advising the creation of improved data systems, improving access to early childhood support services, promoting coordination across all levels of the state’s education system. The $1.3 million being leveraged to support this work is comprised of federal grant funds that will be available for the next three years.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)

Maryland Proposal Would Accelerate Education Reforms
By: Shelby Kain
Governor Martin O’Malley has introduced the Education Reform Act of 2010, aimed at accelerating efforts to improve the state’s public school system. The legislation contains a series of reform measures that the governor hopes will make the state more competitive for federal Race to the Top Funds.

The proposed reforms would extend the period before a teacher is eligible for tenure from two years to three years, while providing for mentoring and professional development for non-tenured teachers who need additional support. The bill would also require student achievement data to be a significant factor in teacher and principal evaluations. If Maryland does receive the Race to the Top funds, this legislation would mandate that the state provide additional stipends to teachers and principals in low-performing schools.
(Contact: Laura Harris)

Florida Seminole Tribe to Become Interoperable
By: Alisha Powell
Florida’s Seminole tribe will join the state’s interoperability radio network to better communicate with state and local emergency responders in the event of a disaster. By joining the Florida Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS), the Seminoles, a tribe that consists of six reservations in six different Florida counties, will communicate more readily with the Florida Highway Patrol and other agencies they may need to contact. Before joining SLERS, the reservations were serviced by one police department and one fire department.

SLERS will replace a communications system that is pieces and parts from different vendors and different repair facilities that have worked on the technology over the last 20 years. More than 530 new subscribers will join the new system.
(Contact: David Henry)


Other News

Report Suggests Funding and Federal Support for Intelligent Transportation Systems
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation released a report on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and where the United States stands in deploying the technology. Benefits of more intelligent communication within the transportation system include reduced congestion and increased safety and traveler convenience. The report finds that the US lags behind global leaders such as Japan, Singapore and South Korea. The lag is due primarily to lack of funding and lack of an organizational system to promote ITS. The report proposes the federal government use the reauthorization of the surface transportation act to take a leadership role in promoting ITS through the following measures:

  • Provide $1.5 to $2 billion for large-scale ITS demonstration projects and $1 billion to support the ongoing efforts at the state and regional levels;
  • Focus on deployment of ITS, moving beyond R&D;
  • Link federal surface transportation funding with increased performance of state transportation systems;
  • Charge DOT with creating, by 2014, a national real-time traffic information system; and
  • Continue supporting comprehensive R&D efforts.

(Contact: Greg Dierkers)

Report Finds Medicaid Enrollment Increase Was Largest in History
By: Brian O’Donnell
A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that total Medicaid enrollment increased by nearly 3.3 million individuals or 7.5 percent from June 2008 to June 2009. Such an increase represents the largest absolute one year increase in Medicaid’s history and is largely due to individuals being unable to afford private insurance due to the economic recession. Further, during that same time period, every state experienced an increase in Medicaid enrollment for the first time since the early 1990s, and 32 states experienced enrollment growth at least twice as fast as the prior year.

In fiscal year 2010, the report finds that 44 states and the District of Columbia are experiencing higher than expected enrollment and spending. As a result, at least 29 states report they are considering additional mid-year cuts in provider rates and program benefits.
(Contact: Caryn Marks)

STEM Increases Among High School Students
By: Shelby Kain
A new MPR Research Brief examines trends among high school students’ course-taking in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects. The report finds that graduates from the class of 2005 earned more credits in each of the three STEM categories (advanced science and engineering, advanced mathematics, and STEM-related technical courses) during high school than did 1990 graduates.

Although STEM course-taking increased for both male and female students and across racial/ethnic groups, there were some differences. For example, in 2005 a larger percentage of females earned STEM credits in algebra II, biology, and chemistry while a larger percentage of males earned STEM credits in physics, engineering, and computer/information science. Also, white graduates earned more credits than black and Hispanic graduates in two of the STEM course categories in 2005.
(Contact: Laura Harris)

Hawaii Reduces Probation Arrests, Report Finds
The Pew Center on the States reports that the Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program resulted in a 55 percent reduction in new crime arrests, a 72 percent reduction in drug use and a 53 percent reduction in probation revocation in a randomized controlled trial.

HOPE aims to reduce crime and drug use among criminal offenders by identifying probationers likely to violate the conditions of their supervision, warning them that probation violations will have immediate consequences, and then following through. HOPE conducts frequent random drug tests and responds to detected violations with swift, certain and short terms of incarceration. Drug treatment is mandated from probationers who fail to abstain from drug use while in the program.
(Contact: Blaire Jones)

Report Examines Improving Nation’s Medical Defenses During Disaster
In response to the delay in distribution of the H1N1 vaccination in 2009, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requested a comprehensive review of the country’s ability to respond quickly and effectively with medical countermeasures during a major disaster. A draft report recently released by the National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB) concludes that the U.S. government needs to improve collaboration with the private sector for development and dissemination of these medications, which are currently incompatible with large-scale disasters and present a serious threat to national security.

Some recommendations include:

  • Investing money to increase the pace of medical countermeasure development;
  • Centralizing leadership for medical countermeasure development and acquisition;
  • Enhancing innovative partnerships with private industry; and
  • Expanding medical markets to include state and local first-responders.
The report also recommends enhanced collaboration among U.S. health agencies such as HHS, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with components of the Department of Defense.
(Contact: Carmen Ferro)


What's New

NGA Center Paper Examines Fiscal Pressures on States
A new paper released by the NGA Center for Best Practices examines the fiscal pressures on states after what has been deemed the “great recession.” The paper, titled The Big Reset: State Government After the Great Recession, looks at how states will need to redesign in the post-recession reality.
(Contact: Lauren Stewart)

NGA Center Releases State Homeland Security Advisors Survey
The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) has released the results of its sixth annual survey of the state homeland security directors. The 2009 survey showed similar homeland security governance structures across states, evolving priorities as a result of current events like the H1N1 pandemic and concerns about sustaining security capabilities under current funding mechanisms. Key findings from the survey include:

  • Pandemic influenza preparedness reemerged as a priority for the states as the H1N1 pandemic played out. Pandemic preparedness had fallen from the list of priorities in 2008;
  • More than half of respondents have positioned their state’s primary fusion center under the command of the homeland security director;
  • Communications from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the states continued to improve in 2009, with 98 percent of respondents reporting satisfaction with the information received from DHS. About two-thirds of respondents also said they are satisfied with the timeliness of the intelligence they receive from the federal government;
  • Seventy-five percent of respondents believe DHS should improve the grant allocation process and work with Congress to permanently restore allowable management and administration funding to 5 percent; and
  • States are struggling to sustain their capabilities with the amount of grant funding that is available to them and are hoping for some relief from the administrative burdens that come with that funding.
The survey targeted members of the Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council (GHSAC), which is comprised of the top homeland security directors as designated by the governor in all states and territories. Forty-seven homeland security directors, or approximately 84 percent of the GHSAC, responded to the survey in whole or in part.
(Contact: Carmen Ferro)