Kentucky Education Task Force Targets Early Childhood Reforms
The Governor's Task Force on Transforming Education in Kentucky completed a yearlong study of the state's education system and has presented 35 recommendations to Governor Steven Beshear. The recommendations include several actions aimed at prioritizing early childhood education, such as:
- Reorganize the Early Childhood Development Authority; create a system of support, including parent education, for students at all levels of kindergarten readiness; and create common school readiness standards and instruments;
- Include sufficient funding in the state budget to improve access to effective, high-quality preschool programs; and
- Require collaboration among state-funded preschool, Head Start, and qualified child care programs beginning in 2012-2013 in order to access state funding.
Other key recommendations include raising the compulsory school age from 16 to 18, effective in 2016, with state-funded support for students at risk of dropping out, and implementing policies to enhance and expand virtual and blended learning, which would include funding options to ensure equitable access to students across the Commonwealth.
The task force is composed of parents, teachers, superintendents, education advocates, lawmakers and business and community leaders.
(Contact: Amanda Szekely)
New Mexico Proposes School Accountability Plan
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has proposed a school accountability plan that would grade New Mexico schools based on performance. The "Real Accountability, Real Results Plan" would assign a letter grade to each school based on student achievement and progress, with a particular focus on the lowest performing 25 percent of students.
Schools earning an "A" and schools that improve a letter grade based on baseline data would be eligible for incentives rewarding improvement in student learning. Schools that have earned an "F" for two years would receive additional state resources focused on improving these schools, helping struggling students and giving parents more options. The governor's plan has passed the state's senate education committee.
(Contact: Amanda Szekely)
Georgia Governor Proposes Commission on Criminal Justice Reform
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has introduced legislation to establish the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform to examine the state's criminal justice and correctional system. The council is tasked with finding ways that the state can enhance probation and parole supervision, and better manage a growing prison population through increasing public safety, improving rehabilitation and lowering state costs. Georgia has the fourth-largest prison system in the country and has seen the state's overall prison population grow by 4.6 percent in the last two years. The council is to report its findings and recommendations to the legislature no later than January 9, 2012.
Georgia recently participated in the NGA Center Cross Governmental Sentencing and Corrections Policy Forum, which helped states identify and evaluate strategies to enhance state sentencing and corrections policies to reduce corrections costs and improve sentencing outcomes.
(Contact: Alisha Powell)
Michigan Reorganizes Agencies in Effort to Streamline Regulations
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has ordered the creation of a new department to focus exclusively on regulation. The new entity, to be called the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (DLRA), will be conducting a review of current state regulations, rules manuals and brochures to determine which should remain and which could be eliminated to streamline oversight of businesses. DLRA also will assume the licensing and oversight of doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and other health professions. The office will seek advice from businesses and individuals about how to change or drop regulatory functions.
The changes were made by two executive orders as part of Gov. Snyder's broader government redesign efforts. DLRA will replace the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth (DELEG). Some functions of DELEG, including workforce development and the promotion of alternative energy, will be transferred to the Michigan Strategic Fund. Other changes include:
- The consolidation of all administrative hearings under the new DLRA;
- The transfer of the Disability Concerns Commission, Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Pacific American Affairs Commission and the Hispanic/Latino Commission to the Department of Civil Rights; and
- The abolition of the position of Automobile and Home Insurance Consumer Advocate created in 2008.
(Contact: Lauren Stewart)
Connecticut Proposes Changes to Medicaid, Other Health Programs
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy released his biennial budget, calling for changes to financing and benefits for several state health programs. Provisions aimed at containing Medicaid costs include a reduction of non-emergency dental and vision benefits and copayments for certain services of up to $3.00 per visit. Gov. Malloy also proposed levying a new hospital provider tax, which would raise $266.6 million in 2011-2012, most of which would be returned to hospitals in the form of federal reimbursement.
The budget would also address state expenditures on prescription drugs by phasing out the state-funded prescription drug subsidy program for seniors, the Connecticut Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract to the Elderly (ConnPACE). Most ConnPACE recipients already rely on Part D of the federal Medicare program to cover most of their prescription costs, using the state program once their federal benefits are exhausted. Under the legislation, all Medicare Part D recipients would be encouraged to instead join the Medicaid Savings Program, a special cost-sharing program that helps poor seniors pay for Medicare premiums, co-payments and deductibles.
(Contact: Caryn Marks)
Massachusetts Proposal Would Limit Rising Health Costs
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced plans to set new boundaries on the health insurance market in an effort to pressure providers to limit costs and promote market innovations. The plan would move Massachusetts employees, Medicaid recipients and other residents with state-subsidized health insurance toward a "global payment" system in which doctors are rewarded based on quality of care and patients' overall health.
The legislation also establishes standards for accountable care organizations (ACOs), collectives of providers that coordinate patient care and share payments. ACOs will be required to include preventive care and mental health care and to have the technology to manage payments. The proposal also creates a new health care council comprised of public health officials whose purpose is to put pressure on the market by reviewing health care premiums and rejecting excessive premium increases.
(Contact: Brad Finnegan)
Illinois Creates Innovation Council
The Illinois Innovation Council, announced as part of Governor Pat Quinn's 2011 budget, has been created to promote innovation throughout the state. The council was formed at the recommendation of the Governor's Economic Recovery Commission, charged with developing policies to retain and cultivate entrepreneurs, enterprises and innovative researchers in an effort to grow the state's economy.
The Innovation Council will meet at least four times a year to evaluate and recommend initiatives that achieve the following goals:
- Support and improve innovation in Illinois;
- Strengthen the alignment between public and private resources; and
- Identify and attract innovative organizations and individuals to the state.
The Innovation Council will convene academic, government and business leaders from variety of critical sectors to participate in this work. The Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, an independent, not-for-profit organization, will also assist the council.
(Contact: Linda Hoffman)
West Virginia Studies Industry Cluster Potential Around Natural Gas
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has formed of a task force to study how increased natural gas drilling in the state could help stimulate the state's manufacturing sector. The Marcellus to Manufacturing Task Force will look at economic development opportunities related to the application of natural gas drilling byproducts in the manufacturing and chemical industries. Specifically, the task force will study the use of processes known as thermal or steam cracking to convert byproducts into compounds that have uses in these sectors, such as the conversion of ethane into ethylene. Gov. Tomblin has requested that the task focus on:
- Analyzing the feasibility of using thermal or steam cracking to create products that the state manufacturing sector can utilize;
- Identifying companies that specialize in building or operating thermal or steam cracking facilities and strategies for attracting them to West Virginia; and
- Identifying existing infrastructure in the state such as pipelines and storage tanks that could be utilized or upgraded to facilitate the use and transportation of natural gas byproducts.
The task force consists of 13 members representing state government; energy, chemical and manufacturing industries; and non-profit and trade groups. The task force will give findings to the governor on a semi-annual basis and each member will serve for three years.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
Michigan Low-Interest Loans Target Advanced Energy Systems Manufacturers
Michigan is offering low-interest loans up to $2 million for small businesses with 500 employees or fewer. The loans are designed to incentivize high-growth clean energy sectors and encourage investment in advanced manufacturing of energy systems and components. Applications for funding will be reviewed by an advisory committee and awarded based on project merit and applicant creditworthiness. The loans are made possible by a Public Act in 2009 that established the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Revolving Loan Fund Program, which provides low-interest loans to public or private entities for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The grant is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Examples of clean energy sectors and advanced manufacturing of energy systems and components include wind turbine systems, solar technology, bio-energy equipment, and geothermal heating and cooling systems. This also includes building or increasing production capacity of next generation energy efficiency technology systems. The loans can only be used to cover materials, supplies and equipment costs. Interest on approved loans is fixed at 6 percent for a maximum of six years.
(Contact: Garrett Groves)
Report Tracks Progress of "Money Follows the Person" Medicaid Demonstration
A report released by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (KCMU) highlights results of a survey of 29 states about the "Money Follows the Person" (MFP) program, which is intended to reduce state costs by providing enhanced federal matching funds for Medicaid beneficiaries transitioned from an institution to a community-based setting. The report includes trends in enrollment, services and per capita spending. Among the findings:
- Twenty-two of 26 states reported lower per capita costs from serving MFP participants than beneficiaries who reside in institutions. The average reported monthly cost of transitioning an MFP participant to the community was $5,600 per person.
- States did not uniformly see lower MFP costs compared to other Medicaid home and community based services (HCBS) beneficiaries. Eight states reported lower per capita costs, seven states said costs were comparable, and six states reported higher MFP per capita costs.
- Obstacles to transition include lack of affordable, accessible housing and inadequate community workforce supply.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced that 13 additional states will receive $261 million grants through 2016, joining the 29 states already operating MFP programs.
(Contact: Caryn Marks)
Report: U.S. Must Increase Productivity to Drive Competitiveness
A recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute finds that the United States needs to make major gains in productivity in order to drive economic growth and competitiveness. To match the level of economic growth that has occurred over the past several decades, the United States needs to increase labor productivity from 1.7 percent to 2.3 percent a year.
The report outlines areas where there is significant untapped potential to increase productivity. Companies can achieve much of the needed productivity growth first by adopting industry best practices, such as lean practices, and second by implementing emerging business and technology innovations, such as enhanced supply chain integration and greater responsiveness to evolving customer preferences and behavior. The report also finds areas where government and business need to act on economy-wide barriers that limit productivity growth. The report recommends the following actions, among others:
- Drive productivity gains in the public and regulated sectors, such as health care and education;
- Build 21st century infrastructure;
- Enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. regulatory and business environment; and
- Embrace the energy productivity challenge.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)
Annual Survey Shows Progress for State Education Data Systems
The Data Quality Campaign's (DQC) sixth annual state survey on state education data systems shows that states have made significant progress in collecting information that follows students over time, but that states need to use this information more effectively.
Twenty-four states now have all of DCQ's "10 essential elements" of an education data system in place, including a statewide student identifier and longitudinal information on student enrollment and test scores. All states have committed to implementing the 10 elements by September 2011. DCQ recommends that states take further action to use data effectively, including:
- Linking K-12 data to early childhood, postsecondary and workforce data;
- Providing data access to teachers, students and parents;
- Sharing data about teacher impact on student achievement with educator preparation institutions; and
- Enacting statewide preservice policies, including certification and licensure, and program approval to build educator capacity to use data.
(Contact: Amanda Szekely)
Global Market for Solar Modules Rebounding from Downturn
A new report on the global market for solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules predicts that the total market will reach $67.8 billion by 2015, spurred by rising electricity costs, regulatory support for solar power and the emergence of new technologies. The analysis found that the market slowed in 2009 with the global economic downturn, but has rebounded due to industrial subsidy policies, expansionary monetary policy and improved economic conditions in developing Asian economies, including China and India. Europe remains the largest and fastest growing market for solar PV installations, with Germany and Spain as the largest solar markets. China is forecasted to remain the largest producer of solar PV cells, ahead of Europe, Japan, Taiwan and the United States. Government initiatives and incentives for renewable energy production will remain the key drivers for the continued expansion of the solar PV market.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
States Reduced Prison Populations in 2010
A recent report finds that during 2010, state legislatures in at least 23 states and Washington, D.C., adopted new policies aimed at safely reducing the prison population and eliminating barriers to reentry. The report, The State of Sentencing 2010, highlights state efforts in the areas of sentencing, probation and parole, drug policy, the prison census count, collateral consequences and juvenile justice.
The report also provides a state-by-state list of key criminal justice reforms and legislation passed during 2010 and policy recommendations to stem prison growth, including:
- Establish a policy objective of reducing the number of persons detained;
- Enact sentencing reform measures to control prison growth;
- Permit early discharge for parole or probation and reduce their revocations; and
- Modify presumptive prosecution policies for juveniles.
(Contact: Thomas MacLellan)
NGA Center Policy Institute on States and Innovation: Setting the Stage for Job Creation
The NGA Center is pleased to invite your state to participate in a Policy Institute on States and Innovation: Setting the Stage for Job Creation, to be held on March 24-25 in Washington, D.C.
The institute will focus on what governors can do to improve the economy and create jobs. The meeting will provide an opportunity for governors' top economic advisors to discuss promising ideas and brainstorm with their peers. We invite you to send a high-level team that includes your economic policy advisor and perhaps the head of your commerce department or other state economic development entity. Travel-related expenses will be covered for one participant from each state. If you are interested in attending the Policy Institute on States and Innovation, please contact Erin Sparks.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)
NGA Center Governors' Energy Advisors Policy Institute
The NGA Center is inviting states to participate in a Governors' Energy Advisors Policy Institute April 5-6, 2011, and an optional half-day Energy Technology 101 workshop on April 4, 2011. Both events will take place in Arlington, Virginia.
The policy institute is exclusively for senior energy advisors and/or policy directors and will focus on concrete strategies for how to advance energy solutions that reduce costs, promote economic development and address environmental goals. A pre-policy institute webinar will be held March 3, 2011, at 3:30 PM ET to discuss state priorities and receive input on the agenda. For any questions about the Governor's Energy Advisors Policy Institute, please contact Greg Dierkers at (202) 624-7789 or email@example.com.
(Contact: Greg Dierkers)
Complete College America Announces Grant Competition for States
Complete College America invites governors from all 50 states to submit proposals for one of 10 $1 million, 18-month implementation grants to develop and deploy innovative statewide strategies to substantially increase college completion. The Completion Innovation Challenge is sponsored by Complete College America, with financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. States must indicate intent to apply by March 18, 2011.
(Contact: Travis Reindl)
NGA Center Offers Technical Assistance on Charter Schools
The NGA Center and Center for School Change (CSC) are offering states tailored technical assistance on topics related to state charter public school policies. There are also limited financial resources available from CSC to support meeting expenses related to technical assistance requests. The T.A. must be requested by a governor's office via the attached form and completed by August 31, 2011. Applications for assistance will be accepted on a rolling basis.
Interested states should contact Stephanie Shipton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.624.7857 prior to submitting an application. We look forward to working with you on this important topic.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)