State News
Michigan Invests in Startups and Entrepreneurs
Michigan announced $25 million in awards through its 21st Century Jobs Fund to help entrepreneurs launch and grow start-up companies throughout the state. Awards from the 21st Century Jobs Fund will support programs at eight organizations including the following:

  • Ann Arbor SPARK will receive $10.8 million to support investments in pre-seed stage companies, a business innovation competition that offers more than $1 million in prizes to startup and emerging companies, and launch the new Michigan Angel Fund to invest in startup companies;
  • Detroit Creative Corridor Center will receive $400,000 to provide business acceleration services to early and second stage businesses in the digital and media production fields;
  • Inforum Center for Leadership will receive $700,000 to support high-growth women entrepreneurs by developing a technology commercialization curriculum and a global network of mentors and investors; and
  • Other organizations will receive awards to support capital investments, business acceleration services, and business plan completion for emerging companies around the state.

(Contact: Erin Sparks)

Kentucky Designates Work Ready Communities
Kentucky is launching a program to designate communities as "work ready" based on the quality of their labor force. Work Ready status indicates that local workforces have the talent necessary to staff existing jobs and to master the innovative technologies new jobs will require in the future. The certification is designed to give work-ready counties a competitive advantage in attracting new business and jobs.

To be eligible, communities must apply and meet established criteria in six areas:

  • High school graduation rates;
  • National Career Readiness Certificate holders;
  • Demonstrated community commitment;
  • Educational Attainment;
  • Soft skills development; and
  • Digital Literacy.

Communities that do not meet all six criteria may be awarded "Work Ready Community in Progress" by presenting a viable plan to meet the full criteria within three years. The purpose is to promote collaboration among local stakeholders across education, economic development, workforce agencies, employers, elected officials, and community organizations toward a common goal.
(Contact: Garrett Groves)

New York Integrates Universities with Economic Development
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation that provides new capital funding to the state's public university system and establishes the SUNY system as a catalyst for the state's regionally-focused economic development strategy. The NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program will provide $140 million in new capital funding to the four SUNY University Centers, enabling infrastructure development to advance research and innovation. The program integrates the state university system with New York's economic development plans, recognizing SUNY's role in driving business and economic development in local communities and throughout the state.

To be eligible to receive this new capital funding, each campus must develop and submit a long-term plan outlining how the campus will:

  • Work with the local community and the state's Regional Economic Development Councils to stimulate local economic development and regional revitalization;
  • Develop public/private and other strategic partnerships to increase academic and economic benefits; and
  • Secure and leverage private sector funding.

Empire State Development Corporation will issue $80 million of the capital funding, with the SUNY construction fund providing the remainder.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)

Delaware Launches Comprehensive Broadband Pilot with Comcast
Delaware has partnered with Comcast to launch Internet Essentials, a comprehensive broadband adoption experiment. It is the first program to address the primary barriers to broadband by providing the following to certain low income families:
 

  • Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month;
  • No price increases, no activation fees, or equipment rental fees;
  • A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 + tax; and
  • Access to free digital literacy training in print, online or in person.

Additional benefits include a 30-day money back guarantee and a complementary Norton™ Security Suite ($160 value) for comprehensive online security protection.

Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program for at least three years and through the end of the 2013-2014 school year. The service will be available to low-income families in Delaware with children who are eligible to receive free lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), with the goal of closing the digital divide and ensure more Americans benefit from all the Internet has to offer.
(Contact: Lauren Stewart)

Illinois Turning Roofs into Roads
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed legislation that allows the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to begin using asphalt made from recycled roofing shingles for road construction projects. The law aims to reduce the number of shingles that end up in landfills as well as make state government more cost-efficient. It also directs IDOT to use recycled materials in its projects as much as possible, as long as there is no negative impact on life-cycle cost.  IDOT expects that increased use of recycled materials (including asphalt as well as other materials) will save the state more than $8 million annually. The agency must report the results of its efforts to the Illinois House and Senate Transportation Committees each year.  In addition, under the new law, businesses that specialize in waste collection from construction and demolition sites can double the amount of shingles they can provide to recycling facilities for use later in the production of asphalt.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)

Virginia Adopts New Rules for Watershed Protection
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has signed eight pieces of legislation aimed at enhancing water quality in the state's watersheds and promoting the agricultural industry. Actions in the bills, which all seek to ensure that the agricultural industry employs environmentally sounds practices, include:

  • Prohibiting the sale, distribution, and use of fertilizer containing phosphorous beginning December 2012;
  • Adopting labeling requirements to help prevent fertilizer runoff and requiring fertilizer distributors to disclose the amount and location of distributed product;
  • Deeming farmers who develop and maintain agricultural resource managements plans to be in full compliance with state water quality requirements for nutrients and sediment; and
  • Requesting the Secretary of Natural Resources to study the expansion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Nutrient Credit Exchange Program.

Agriculture is the largest industry in Virginia, generating $55 billion in annual economic activity and providing more than 357,000 jobs.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)

New York to Promote Local Agriculture
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has launched the "New York Fresh Connect Farmers' Market" (FreshConnect) program to increase the number of farmers' markets in the state and expand the sale of locally-grown food. The program is the first step in the "Farm New York" initiative, which invests in the state's agriculture industry. Under the program, the state will:

  • Offer up to $15,000 in funding per farmers' market;
  • Identify suitable locations for new markets;
  • Recruit farmers to participate and assist with marketing, promotion, nutrition education, and community outreach; and
  • Coordinate with local officials and business groups.

FreshConnect also aims to establish new farmers' markets in rural or urban communities that do not have access to grocery stories.  The state will provide new "FreshConnect" checks,two dollar rebate checks for every five dollars in food stamps spent at a participating FreshConnect Farmers' Markets, and, in an effort to create local jobs for young workers, will staff the markets with youth from the market's community. A recent study conducted by the USDA, found that there are 7,175 farmers markets across the country, up 17 percent from last year. The study concluded that increased numbers of markets allow small and mid-size farmers to grow their businesses, provide communities with greater access to fresh food, and stimulate local economic development.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)

Illinois Launches Dental Home Initiative
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation announcing a dental home initiative and creation of an online database of physician profiles. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services is working with the dental community and others to develop and promote the concept of a dental home for children covered by CHIP, All Kids, and Medicaid programs. As part of the initiative, dentists will work collaboratively to deliver ongoing comprehensive, coordinated, preventive, and restorative oral health care. Establishing a dental home will assure that more children receive comprehensive dental services.

Under the Patients' Right to Know Act, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will make physician profiles publicly available. Some data included are: years in practice, hospital privileges, educational information, primary office location, Medicaid participation, journal articles, and translation services offered. Additionally, judgments from malpractice suits, criminal convictions, and disciplinary actions within the last five years will be available for public inspection through an internet web site and, if requested, in writing.
(Contact: Jason Hsieh)

Maryland Initiative Targets Parole Violators
Maryland is launching an initiative aimed at improving the way the state deals with criminal offenders who violate the terms of their parole or probation. To do so, the initiative will create a new office to focus on identifying and prosecuting offenders who violate the terms of their probation, enabling staff to prosecute these cases in a more efficient and timely manner. By focusing exclusively on parole and probation violators, the Collateral Offender Unit officials will have low caseloads, make frequent contacts with offenders, have a low-tolerance for minor infractions, and can immediately request warrants for violations of the terms of parole or probation. The initiative will also facilitate better information sharing through coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement. Specifically, the unit will collaborate with the US Attorney's Office, the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, local police, and other law enforcement and criminal justice agencies. Officials and investigators from all levels will share information and expertise to find and prosecute offenders. The Collateral Offender Unit will coordinate cases with the Juvenile Justice Division regarding defendants who have lied about their age or on probation in both the juvenile and adult systems.

The initiative is funded through a grant awarded to the county by the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention under the federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program.
(Contact: Carmen Ferro)

California Offers Blueprint for Great Schools
California State Superintendent, Tom Torkalson, released his plan for reforming California's education system. Specifically, the plan includes recommendations to:

  • Implement standards for teachers and school leaders to guide and assess practice;
  • Create a commission to design, implement, and support a comprehensive educator quality system;
  • Incorporate the Common Core State Standards into state curriculum standards, frameworks, and assessments;
  • Develop policies to better integrate technology into teaching, learning, and assessment;
  • Work with higher education to establish college and career readiness standards that build upon K-12 standards and assessments;
  • Redesign high school models and curriculum to better support college and career preparation and graduation rates; and
  • Develop a birth-to-third grade system.

The recommendations and blueprint comes from a longer report that was generated by Superintendent Torkalson's transition team. Torkalson plans to work with the governor and legislature to implement the recommendations.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)

North Carolina Requires Pre-K Access for All Students
North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue signed an executive order aimed at ensuring high quality pre-k options are available and accessible for all children. The order requires the Department of Health and Human Services to work with the Department of Public Instruction to craft a plan for ensuring that all at-risk four year olds are accepted into a pre-k program. The plan must identify existing barriers and strategies for moving forward.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)


Other News
New Report Finds Judges Key to Effectiveness of Drug Courts
The Urban Institute released a report on a five-year study of 23 drug courts and six comparison jurisdictions in eight states that found drug court programs can significantly decrease participant drug use and criminal behavior.  A key finding of the study is that the effectiveness of drug courts—which couple substance-abuse treatment with close judicial supervision in lieu of incarceration—depends in large part on the judge's role. Drug court participants who had more status hearings with the judge and received more praise from the judge committed fewer crimes and used drugs less often than those who had less contact and praise. Further, when court programs whose judges exhibited the most respectfulness, fairness, enthusiasm, and knowledge of each individual's case prevented more crimes than other courts and prevented more days of drug use.

The study also found that drug court participants who perceived the consequences of failing the program as more undesirable engaged in less substance use and crime, and those who received more judicial supervision and drug testing, or who attended more than 35 days of substance abuse treatment, reported fewer crimes and fewer days of drug use. Although the cost of running drug courts is higher than case processing in traditional courts, the study found that they save money in the long run by significantly reducing the number of crimes, re-arrests, and days incarcerated. On average, drug courts save $5,680 per participant, returning a net benefit of $2 for every $1 spent.

Based on the study's findings, researchers identified the following as important takeaways for jurisdictions looking to implement the drug court model:
 

  • Judges should hold frequent judicial status hearings, especially for high-risk participants;
  • Administrators should assign judges who are committed to the drug court model;
  • Judges should get training on best practices regarding judicial demeanor and effective communication with participants;
  • Courts should broaden participant eligibility, particularly to include those with mental health problems and histories of violent offenses;
  • Programs should include sufficient drug treatment; and
  • Courts should administer drug tests more than once a week during the program's initial phase.

(Contact: Jeffrey McLeod)

Report: Impact of a College Degree on Earnings
A new report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce builds upon earlier studies to determine the degree to which a college education impacts lifetime earnings, with the data disaggregated by occupation. The report found that:

  • The level of postsecondary degree matters when determining the impact on earnings;
  • Some occupations pay a higher wage for employees with less education, but degree level remains the most important indicator; and
  • Race, ethnicity, and gender may, in some cases, matter more than education or occupation.

(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)

Report Recommends Policies to Stimulate Innovation
A new report from The Hamilton Project at The Brookings Institution analyzes the critical role of innovation in American economic growth and recommends several policies to stimulate future innovation in science, technology, and business. A Dozen Economic Facts about Economic Innovation finds that innovation in the past century improved Americans' standard of living through higher wages and lower prices. But the pace of innovation has slowed since the 1970s, leading to lower wage growth, and gains from innovation have not been shared equally by all Americans.

The report recommends several strategies to encourage future innovation in science, technology, and business:

  • Boost government funding for research and development, especially "basic" research projects that increase wide-ranging scientific understanding;
  • Increase post-secondary study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, especially among women at the graduate education level; and
  • Make it easier for international students to stay and work in the United States, integrating them into the American innovation workforce.

(Contact: Erin Sparks)

Department of Energy Releases Hydraulic Fracturing Recommendations
A new report from the Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board provides recommendations that can be undertaken immediately by the natural gas industry to mitigate the environmental impacts of shale gas production.  The 90-day report stresses the importance of industry leadership in implementing and improving best practices in all aspects of shale gas production, particularly in the regards to management and disclosure.  The report makes recommendations in four key areas:

  • Public Accessibility, including the development of material disclosure laws and the creation of a national database of all public information related to shale gas;
  • Protecting Air and Water Quality, including recommendations in well development and construction, data-collection and reporting, and the development of a systemic approach to water management;
  • Creating a Shale Gas Industry Operation organization that is committed to continuously improving production best practices; and
  • Encouraging Research and Development to improve safety and environmental performance.

The subcommittee was not charged with weighing the balances of shale gas production against environmental risks. The 90-day report will be followed by a second 180-day report, which will further recommend best practices for protecting public health and the environment.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)

Linking Medicaid and Health Benefit Exchanges
The Center for Health Care Strategies released a policy brief addressing issues that states interested in developing a state-operated health benefit exchange should consider. The report examines opportunities for public and private coverage to work together and explains how these linkages could streamline administration across programs and facilitate seamless transitions for individuals across programs. Additionally it stresses the importance of continuity of benefits, providers, and health plans in developing a smooth roadmap for exchanges.

The brief offers insight on:

  • Defining the role of public programs within a health benefit exchange, including maintaining program integrity and funding mechanisms to make this viable;
  • Ensuring seamless eligibility and enrollment, including offering comparable benefit packages to minimize the impact for individuals moving between programs; and
  • Assessing how a basic health plan and the Medicaid expansion could fit in the state's vision.

(Contact: Katnryn Bailey)

What's New
States Invited to Participate in Regional Summits on Growing State Economies
As part of the yearlong NGA Chair's Initiative on Growing State Economies, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices will be hosting four regional summits. These summits will provide states an opportunity to learn from experts and business owners about the best strategies to create an environment focused on the importance of high-growth businesses in all its forms—startup firms, scalable enterprises, and transformational corporations. The summits also will provide time for states to engage in strategic planning and share successful examples.

States in good standing with NGA are invited to send a team of up to seven high-level individuals to one of the four regional summits. Travel and hotel expenses will be covered for two senior advisors (e.g., commerce director and policy advisor) from each state. State teams may include up to five additional individuals, at the state's expense, who play important roles in economic development (e.g., business leaders, industry association leaders, research park directors, or venture fund managers).

The four regional summits will be held in the following locations:
Hartford, Connecticut on October 11–12, 2011;
Nashville, Tennessee on November 14-15, 2011; *Date changed since original annoucement
Seattle, Washington on January 24-25, 2012; and
Omaha, Nebraska on April 24-25, 2012.

Applications must be submitted by August 31, 2011 for the Hartford summit and by September 30, 2011 for the Nashville summit. Application deadlines for the Seattle and Omaha summits will be announced at a later date. Please contact Erin Sparks if you have questions about the summits or application.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)

Webinar: Addressing Chronic Diseases through Federally Qualified Health Centers
The NGA Center is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, September 7 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. ET to discuss the role states can play in developing systems of care coordination in FQHCs, and how this impacts chronic diseases. Low-income populations with multiple chronic conditions present a significant challenge to providing high-quality coordinated care. Federally qualified health centers have the infrastructure to serve these populations, and states have taken action to provide comprehensive coordinated care through payment incentives, links with community preventive supports, and technical assistance. Representatives from New York and Utah will highlight the work done by their respective states on this webinar.
(Contact: Jason Hsieh)

NGA Center Institute for Governors Criminal Justice Policy Advisors
The NGA Center is inviting governors' criminal justice policy advisors to participate in the Institute for Governors Criminal Justice Policy Advisors in Annapolis, Maryland on September 26-27, 2011. At the institute, governors' criminal justice policy advisors will explore critical state public safety issues, identify emerging statewide trends, and learn about current research and best practices in criminal justice policy. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to network and learn from their peers from other states and leading criminal justice researchers and experts in a highly interactive and relaxed setting. For states in good standing, the NGA Center will provide travel and lodging reimbursement for one participant per state.
(Contact: Jeff McLeod)