Mississippi Site Maps Broadband Availability
Mississippi has created a new website mapping the availability of broadband access throughout the state to help businesses and residents locate high-speed Internet services. The program is managed by the Mississippi Broadband Task Force, created by Governor Haley Barbour in 2009 to develop a comprehensive strategy to move the state toward greater broadband use and availability. The Task Force has cited several studies that show increased broadband access leads to:
- A more productive workforce;
- Greater economic development;
- Better opportunities for education from kindergarten to adult continuing education; and
- Better health care services and reduced costs.
The new site, www.broadband.ms.gov, is part of a $7 million effort to review and enhance the state's availability of broadband technology, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and includes information on related Mississippi initiatives and other broadband resources.
(Contact: Garrett Groves)
Washington Reorganizes Agencies to Cut Costs
Washington Governor Chris Gregoire plans to consolidate certain state agencies and eliminate unnecessary boards and commissions to achieve an expected $30 million in savings over the next biennium.
As part of the plan, the state's 11 natural resource agencies would be consolidated into five agencies. The number of agencies handling central services would be reduced from five to three, one of which would be a newly-created Department of Enterprise Services, which will provide back office services that have previously been administered by each individual agency. Gov. Gregoire is also working to achieve cost savings by reducing boards and commissions and integrating the state and local corrections systems.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)
Ohio Seeks to Reduce Snowplow-Related Crashes
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is proposing to switch from yellow to green flashing lights to improve visibility in winter storm conditions and decrease collisions between private vehicles and snow removal equipment. Snowplows in Ohio currently use yellow flashing lights, a color shared among tow trucks, mail delivery vehicles and other non-emergency vehicles. ODOT's budget and legislative request for the coming year would allow for all state snow equipment to be outfitted with flashing green light emitting diodes (LEDs) instead. Green lights have been shown to be more visible in dark or snowy conditions and will help drivers identify snow removal equipment sooner. Snowplows and other snow removal equipment travel below posted speed limits, work in poor driving and visibility conditions and can generate clouds of snow that further decrease visibility behind them, making them prone to being hit by other vehicles. Ohio has had 63 crashes involving snowplows so far this winter, compared with 57 for the entire winter season of 2009-2010.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
Colorado Creates Process for River Access Mediation
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter has signed an executive order creating a River Access Mediation Commission to resolve disputes between landowners and recreational boaters. The Commission will serve as a forum for boaters and property owners to resolve disputes over access to specific stretches of river without resorting to litigation. Participation in the Commission's mediation process will be voluntary and the Commission will not have legal arbitration power. The creation of the Commission was one of eight recommendations made by the Governor's River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force, which also released a report outlining its findings and recommendations.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
Virginia Health Reform Council Releases Recommendations
The Virginia Health Reform Initiative Advisory Council, created last year by Governor Bob McDonnell, has released final recommendations on strategies for implementing health reform that are tailored to the specific needs of the state. The report emphasizes using health care to drive the state's economy and ways to achieve more efficient and effective care at lower cost.
Among the Advisory Council's key recommendations are:
- Create and operate a Health Benefits Exchange, which will be developed with input from businesses and private foundations;
- Expand care coordination for Medicaid recipients and include services such as behavioral health and long term care;
- Develop a eligibility determination and electronic case management system that spans across health and human services;
- Work with private and public organizations to study the benefits of utilizing multidisciplinary primary health care teams to inform future legislation; and
- Pilot test and expand the use of effective models of delivery and payment reform, with a focus on system-wide costs rather than certain segments.
(Contact: Caryn Marks)
Minnesota Expands Medicaid Access
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has signed an executive order expanding access to health coverage for 95,000 low income individuals. The state will receive over $1 billion in federal funds for a $188 million investment as part of an early opt-in program. While most states will expand Medicaid roles in 2014, Minnesota was eligible to receive these funds now because the state has an existing program in place, the General Assistance Medical Care program (GAMC), which provides health care coverage for adults who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. The funds, made available through the executive order, will be used to provide higher reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals to care for low-income populations.
Of the 95,000 expected to enroll, 83,000 will be moved from GAMC. The state’s budget commissioner estimates $416 million in savings by moving people from GAMC.
(Contact: Caryn Marks)
Indiana Education Roundtable Backs Education Reforms
Indiana's Education Roundtable, composed of key leaders from education, business, community and government, has endorsed two measures from Governor Mitch Daniels's 2011 education policy agenda:
- A revamped teacher and administrator evaluation system, in which annual reviews will be based on measures of content knowledge, instructional skill, classroom management, student academic achievement and leadership effectiveness; and
- Accelerated graduation opportunities for 11th graders who complete the state's high school diploma requirements. Under this proposal, students would have an opportunity to pursue postsecondary education using funds dedicated for their 12th grade education.
The Roundtable is co-chaired by the governor and state superintendent. The Roundtable makes ongoing recommendations to policymakers at its quarterly meetings.
(Contact: Amanda Szekely)
Texas Committee Recommends Cost Efficiencies for Higher Education
The Texas Advisory Committee on Higher Education Efficiencies has released recommendations to Governor Rick Perry for cost efficiencies in higher education. The Committee focused on ways to achieve better results in the most cost efficient manner and focused on five "big ideas:"
- Paying for performance, including creating incentives in funding formulas that reward results and providing merit-based financial assistance to students;
- Creating clear pathways for successful student outcomes with statewide articulation agreements and a requirement that students develop a degree plan;
- Meeting demand with new approaches to delivery, including online courses and e-textbooks;
- Making capital financing more sensible, through new approaches to capital financing, including models from other states; and
- Making productivity and continuous improvement a cultural change -- for example, the state could mandate that each institution annually increase the cost efficiency for producing a graduate.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) created the Committee to develop cost-saving recommendations, following a 2009 executive order from Gov. Perry. The Committee is composed of two members of the THECB and eighteen leaders from the business community and all sectors of public higher education.
(Contact: Amanda Szekely)
Connecticut Reforms Push Prison Population to Five-Year Low
Connecticut's efforts to reduce recidivism and treat nonviolent offenders in community settings are expected to push the state's prison population below 18,000—a five-year low—according to a new report from the Office of Policy and Management. Specific actions that contributed to the prison population decrease include:
- Increasing funding for probation officers, which allowed the state to scale back incarcerations tied to parole violations; and
- Diverting nonviolent individuals to more cost-effective, community-based treatment settings through the judicial branch's jail re-interview program, which reexamines the backgrounds of those who fail to make bond.
(Contact: Jeffrey McLeod)
Oregon's Early Release Program Saves $25 Million
According to a recent audit by the Secretary of State, the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) saved an estimated $25 million, in the 2009 fiscal year, through administering its earned time early release program. The program allows eligible prisoners to receive up to 20 percent sentence reductions for good behavior. The savings is based on daily cost per inmate as reported by the DOC. While the program was found in compliance with state earned time statutes, the audit recommended that the DOC clarify the program's policies and procedures regarding inmates' participation in mandated rehabilitation programs and enforce rules for inmate violations that occur four months before release.
(Contact: Anne-Elizabeth Johnson)
Report Examines Streamlining Social Service Benefits
A recent study by Mathematica Policy Research examines how states can effectively streamline the enrollment process for social service and health benefits including Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Key lessons learned were identified based on the experiences of officials and client advocates in Florida, Washington, Texas and Pennsylvania. Key findings include:
- Simplifying eligibility rules can be an effective way to streamline benefits and services;
- Community partners are critical in conducting outreach;
- Major eligibility and enrollment changes should be phased in; and
- State agencies must work to ensure buy-in of changes by frontline eligibility workers
The study was conducted to inform the California Health and Human Services Agency as it plans major changes in the enrollment process for social service and health programs.
(Contact: Linda Hoffman)
Clean Technology Investments Expected to Increase
Global private sector investment in clean technology grew significantly in 2010, and is expected to continue to grow in 2011. According to an analysis by Ernst & Young, venture capital investment in the clean tech sector was 25 percent greater in the first three quarters of 2010, compared with the same period in 2009, and total clean technology investments for 2010 are estimated at $4.9 billion. Sales of shares in clean tech firms grew 75 percent in 2010, totaling $9.1 billion. Investment in clean tech firms has continued to increase, even though the value of firms on the market declined 13 percent in 2010.
Private investment is expected to continue into 2011 as countries such as China, the U.S., South Korea, Brazil and the UK continue to promote clean energy technologies and products. China remains the leader in advancing clean technology innovation, with the U.S. number two. Factors that will drive clean tech investments in 2011 include growing global energy demand, continued focus on energy security and the maturity of clean technologies in the marketplace.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
Report Highlights State Role in Reorganizing Chronic Care Delivery
A new report from the Commonwealth Foundation highlights the role states are playing in reorganizing primary care delivery to more efficiently and effectively address chronic care. Based on interviews with six states, the report identifies five critical themes to enacting strategic delivery system reforms:
- Leadership and convening: bringing public and private payers and stakeholders together and brokering multipayer agreements;
- Payment incentives: using a variety of strategies to pay primary care providers for key elements infrequently reimbursed by other payers and to reward outcomes;
- Support for infrastructure: shared services to create a team-based approach, state-supported and organized learning, and information exchange;
- Information feedback and monitoring: data collection and reporting on process and outcomes; and
- Certification and recognition: meeting characteristics deemed necessary for optimal primary care using the certification of external organizations (such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance) or state-conducted audits to ensure compliance.
(Contact: Jason Hsieh )
Study Identifies Measures of Teacher Effectiveness
Initial findings from the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project show that improvements in student test scores and students' perceptions of teachers both hold promise in identifying teacher effectiveness. The recently released report finds that teachers who lead students to achievement gains in one year or class tend to do so in other years or classes. Researchers found that teachers who raise students' test scores tend to also promote greater conceptual understanding of academic material. Teachers seem to have stronger effects on math achievement than reading or English Language Arts, at least as measured on state assessments. Finally, the study found that student perceptions of teacher effectiveness are consistent across classes and related to student achievement gains.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the MET project supports education researchers, in partnership with school districts, teachers and unions, to develop objective and reliable measures of effective teaching. Rather than relying only on student test scores, the project seeks to develop a set of measures that together form a complete indicator of a teacher's impact on student achievement. The project has enrolled 3000 teachers across six school districts.
(Contact: Amanda Szekely)
HHS Releases Hospital Preparedness Toolkit
The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has created three resources for hospitals to use for planning emergency response exercises. The tools assist hospital preparedness coordinators to better develop, conduct, and evaluate emergency exercises. In addition, the toolkit serves as a set of best practices that may help to strengthen existing hospital preparedness efforts. The three tools are:
- The Hospital Preparedness Exercises Atlas of Resources and Tools, which identifies over 200 resources for local and state planners to meet federal requirements and standards for exercises;
- The Hospital Preparedness Exercises Guidebook, a reference for planning conducting and evaluating exercises; and
- The Hospital Preparedness Exercises Pocket Guide, a quick reference book summarizing the Guidebook.
(Contact: David Henry)
NGA Center Webcast: The State Role in Combating Identity Theft
The NGA Center will host a webcast on the state role in combating identity theft on January 26, 2011, from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. The webcast, in partnership with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), will review the nature and scope of identity theft and address questions such as: What is identity theft and how prevalent is it? How, when, and where does it occur? Who commits it? And, what are challenges to preventing it from happening? The webcast will also explore actions that states can take to improve how they collect, analyze and share information about identity theft, as well as identify effective policy responses states can use to fight it.
If you have any questions, please contact Jeffrey McLeod at email@example.com or 202-624-5311.
(Contact: Jeffrey McLeod)