New York to Close Several State Prisons
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is closing seven state prisons due to a declining inmate population. Included in the closures are four male minimum-security facilities and three male medium security facilities, which will eliminate approximately 3,800 unused and unneeded beds. No maximum security prisons will be closed. Offenders residing in these facilities will be moved to other prisons with available space. Communities that rely on prisons for employment and economic sustainability and will be affected by the closures can request economic assistance from the state, which includes money from a $50 million fund, as well as certain tax credits.
The prison closures will save the state $72 million in 2011-2012 and $112 million in 2012-2013. New York has also consolidated the former Department of Correctional Services and Division of Parole into the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to save an estimated $17 million in the current 2011-12 fiscal year.
(Contact: Alisha Powell)
Virginia Overhauls Offender Re-entry Policies
Virginia Governor McDonnell signed legislation aimed at strengthening prisoner re-entry policies to ensure that offenders are equipped for successful reintegration into society and to minimize recividism. Currently, two-thirds of offenders in Virginia are re-arrested within three years of their release from prison. The newly adopted policies promote coordination amongst faith-based and non-profit organizations, state and local agencies and private partners to provide evidence-based re-entry services that focus on improving outcomes for released adult and juvenile offenders. The bill also addresses the workforce development needs of re-entering offenders, public safety and societal reintegration through the following provisions:
- - The Department of Corrections (DOC) is required to establish a personal trust account for each inmate to include 10 percent of any funds received by an inmate up to $1,000 for use upon release;
- - Prisoner workforces are allowed to assist with maintaining privately owned and abandoned cemeteries;
- - Court services must consult with Social Services 90 days prior to a juvenile offender's release from a Department of Juvenile Justice facility to discuss placement and to create a transition plan; and
- - DOC is required to offer a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) test to an inmate within 60 days of scheduled release.
(Contact: Anne-Elizabeth Johnson)
Oregon Creates Coordinated Care Organizations
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signed legislation to shift the focus and financial incentive of the state's health care system from acute care towards prevention, wellness and community based management of chronic conditions. Specifically, the legislation creates community based Coordinated Care Organizations (CCO) that will focus on prevention and patient outcomes by integrating physical, behavioral, and oral health using teams of doctors, nurses, dentists, and other providers. Under the law, health care services under the Oregon Health Plan—other than Medicaid-funded long term care—will be delivered through coordinated care contracts that use alternative payment mechanisms focused on prevention, improving health equity, reducing health disparities, using patient centered primary care homes, promoting evidence-based practices with the use of health information technology.
The CCOs will be required to manage costs within a global budget, and will be incentivized to avoid costly hospitalizations for patients with chronic health problems. High quality data will be collected and used to measure health outcomes, health care quality and costs, and clinical health information to spur continued innovation and improvement in the program.
(Contact: Jason Hsieh)
South Dakota Develops Training Tools for Rural Emergency Care Providers
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard introduced a new mobile hands-on training program, "Simulation in Motion – South Dakota," for rural emergency health care providers. The technology will support providers by bringing training materials to rural areas—including interactive human-patient simulators— and allowing health care personnel to practice techniques and receive instant feedback. These new simulators blink, breath, cry, and replicate health problems. A coalition led by the South Dakota Department of Health has developed a standardized curriculum to assure uniform educational opportunities for all emergency health care providers.
(Contact: Stephanie Jamison)
Tennessee Launches Public-Private Entrepreneurial Network
Tennessee has formed a public-private partnership to link entrepreneurs with training opportunities, mentors and potential capital investors. The partnership, Startup Tennessee, will create a networkto connect entrepreneurs with opportunities and support the growth of their companies. The partnership will regularly bring together regional startup incubator organizations to share best practices, and will help entrepreneurs access free or low-cost services from private companies.
Startup Tennessee is a component of Governor Bill Haslam's Jobs4TN economic development strategy and is supported by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)
Colorado Partnership Supports Clean Energy Startups
Colorado has launched a partnership to expand clean energy entrepreneurship by bringing together experts in technology, energy markets and economic development. The Colorado Center for Renewable Energy and Economic Development (CREED) will improve communication between industry and government partners to drive sustainable economic development and job growth. CREED will:
- - Provide training and networking opportunities for clean energy entrepreneurs;
- - Accelerate deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies; and
- - Focus the use of resources in the state's clean energy industry.
Partner organizations include the Governor's Energy Office, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, universities, industry associations, venture capital organizations and small businesses.
(Contact: Garrett Groves)
Florida Expands School Choice Offerings
Florida Governer Rick Scott recently signed into law several pieces of legislation that will expand school choice options for students. Specifcally, new provisions allow for:
- - The Florida Virtual school to expand its offerings to include kindergarten courses;
- - Additional providers, including charter schools, to offer virtual courses;
- - Other high performing charter schools to increase enrollment by adding grade levels or opening new campuses without approval from local school districts; and
- - High performing fourth and fifth graders to take middle school courses.
Additionally, the legislation requires that all students take an online course prior to graduating from high school.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)
Massachusetts Adopts Rules to Reward Effective Teaching
The Massachussetts State Board of Education passed new rules to require school districts to include student performance as a key part of teacher and administrator evaluations. High performing teachers will earn rewards while less effective teachers will be given one year improvement plans. Additionally, the rule grants tenure to teachers only if they attain proficiency within three years. Ten school districts—including Boston Public Schools—will test the new evaluation system in fall 2011.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)
Michigan Expands Role of Volunteers in Land Conservation
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed a bill that increases opportunities for volunteers to assist the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in conservation activities. Prior to the bill, DNR could only accept volunteer assistance for operations and maintenance functions within Michigan state parks. The new law removes these restrictions, allowing volunteers to assist in a variety of DNR land and wildlife conservation activities both in and outside state parks, such as habitat conservation in state forests or wetland preservation activities. The bill allows volunteers to use DNR equipment or machinery where appropriate and protects volunteers against lawsuits. The bill is intended to maximize the effectiveness of conservation efforts and programs in Michigan while allowing the DNR to more efficiently manage its financial resources.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
New York Releases Guidelines for Natural Gas Drilling
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has released a set of recommendations for natural gas drilling using the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." The new recommendations are part of a revised state environmental impact statement (EIS) on hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale that, if adopted, would allow shale gas development in New York to proceed with certain limitations. They were developed in conjunction with a two-year moratorium on shale gas drilling in the state that expired on July 1, to demonstrate how the state would mitigate the environmental impact and address public concerns related to hydraulic fracturing. The recommendations are now subject to a 60-day public comment period, after which they will be finalized and eligible to be adopted by the state. Recommendations from the EIS include:
- - Prohibiting any drilling in the New York City or Syracuse watersheds;
- - Prohibiting drilling on any state land or within 500 feet of any primary aquifer;
- - Requiring that flowback water (water that resurfaces after being injected into a well) be stored in sealed containers rather than open holding ponds; and
- - Requiring drilling companies to disclose the chemical additives used in fracking fluids and explore alternatives for chemical additives that pose less environmental risk.
Under the recommendations, 85 percent of the shale gas reserves in the state would be accessible. The state has also created a High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel that willhelp determine oversight and enforcement guidelines, evaluate the impacts on local governments and communities, and evaluate fee and revenue structures for the state.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
Community Involvement Important in Counter-Radicalization Efforts
A recent report by the New America Foundation examines domestic counter-radicalization and counterterrorism programs in the United Kingdom, California and New York. According to the report, the focus of domestic counter-radicalization programs include dissuading individuals from adopting terrorist ideology and encouraging Muslim communities to work closely with law enforcement to identify and report individuals who do radicalize. Those communities, which emphasize relationship building between law enforcement and intelligence agencies and the local Muslim community, have shown a reduction in the rate of radicalized individuals and an increased likelihood that radicalization appeal will diminish in the long-term. A review of trends in both counterterrorism investigations and terrorist behavior suggest several recommendations, including:
- - Limit the government's direct role in counter-radicalization efforts, while highlighting independent efforts by Muslim-Americans;
- - Include more scientific assessments during information collection;
- - Make government intelligence and surveillance efforts more transparent;
- - Use government informants carefully and sparingly; and
- - Improve counterterrorism education guidelines and standards.
(Contact: Carmen Ferro)
Assessing the Costs of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released an issue brief on state experiences in quantifying the costs of racial and ethnic disparities in health status and care. The authors indicated the importance of understanding and documenting these disparities for improving quality, containing costs, developing minority health initiatives, and tracking progress in reducing disparities.
States included in the report calculated the costs of disparities in three ways: in financial terms of excess health care utilization and expense (e.g. excess hospitalization); in terms of excess deaths or human life lost; and in terms of lost productivity (i.e. days of work). The report highlighted several measurement challenges and best practices, including:
- - States may consider aggregating data over several years to ensure a large enough sample size from which to draw reliable conclusions;
- - States have found a benefit from working in tandem with hospital associations and communities to reinforce collection standards and increase community awareness of the value of self-reporting race/ethnicity information to health care providers; and
- - States should emphasize location as a key data point for determining how location and environmental factors may exacerbate racial and ethnic health disparities.
(Contact: Brad Finnegan)
Report Highlights State Economic Growth After Recession
An updated report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber Foundation highlights steps states have taken to foster economic growth and job creation after the recent recession. Enterprising States 2011: Recovery and Renewal for the 21st Century reports state-level data on job growth rates, quality of new jobs, and overall prosperity of state residents; largest clusters in each state; most successful economic growth strategies used in each state; and state rankings in a number of economic growth areas. The report also highlights general state success strategies in creating jobs, cultivating a friendly business environment, and maximizing resources to address growth and employment. These strategies include:
- - Government redesign and spending reductions;
- - Modification of tax policies;
- - Investments in universities and startup businesses;
- - Public-private partnerships and privatization; and
- - Workforce training and development.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)
Report: Future Workforce is Undereducated
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce released a report that finds America's future workforce will need 20 million more workers with a postsecondary degree in the next 15 years in order to meet economic requirements. The increase is also necessary to reduce growing income inequity. According to the report, the earnings gap between college education and non-college education workers will be 96 percent larger in 2015 if the country continues to underproduce college graduates.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)
New Analysis Dampens Expectations for Electric Vehicle Market
An annual analysis of the electric vehicle (EV) market in the U.S. predicts that fewer EVs are expected to be sold between now and 2020 than previously predicted. The analysis from Boston Consulting predicts that EVs (including both battery-powered and plug-in hybrid models) will make up between 2 and 5 percent of the market for new cars in 2020. This is a decline from the group's previous prediction from January 2009, which estimated EVs as being between 5 and 7 percent of the 2020 new car market. The report highlights several reasons for the estimated decline in future electric vehicle sales:
- - Increased efficiency in traditional, gasoline-powered automobiles has occurred much faster and at a lower cost than previously expected;
- - Oil prices at the time of the 2009 analysis were at a temporary high, heavily influencing the near-term market expectations for EVs; and
- - Government tax incentives for purchasing electric vehicles are declining, while data around how much U.S. consumers are willing to pay for electric vehicles is improving.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
Using Early Warning Data Systems to Prevent and Recover Dropouts
The NGA Center for Best Practices is holding a policy forum on Using Early Warning Data Systems to Prevent and Recover Dropouts. The meeting will be held on August 11-12, 2011 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina in San Diego, California. Topics will include state strategies for building and implementing an early warning data system; specifically, research about the use of early warning data systems to identify students at-risk of dropping out; implementing an early warning data system; and, professional development for providing dropout interventions. Space for this meeting is limited to ten state teams of three members each. Interested states should RSVP to Ryan Reyna by today, July 8, 2011.
(Contact: Ryan Reyna)
Policy Forum on Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness
The NGA Center for Best Practices is pleased to invite you to a policy forum on Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness. The meeting will be held on July 18-19, 2011 at the Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island. The meeting is designed to provide governors' education policy advisors and key state policymakers with information on state strategies for evaluating teacher effectiveness. For more information, contact Tabitha Grossman.
(Contact: Tabitha Grossman)