New Hampshire Trains Unemployed Workers in Critical Skills
New Hampshire Governor John Lynch launched a training program to provide unemployed workers with the job skills necessary to succeed in the workplace. The Work Ready NH program will close skill gaps in critical areas including math, reading, and problem solving. The program will also provide training in "soft skills" including workplace and ethical behavior and teamwork. Unemployed workers who wish to participate in the program will take an initial test to assess their skills and will receive training to address gaps in their skill set. Upon completion of the training, workers will receive a nationally recognized certification that will demonstrate their skills and training to potential employers. The Work Ready NH program was developed in response to business community feedback about skill gaps in the state workforce. Work Ready NH is administered through the Community College System and is part of Governor Lynch's jobs initiative, New Hampshire Working.
(Contact: Garrett Groves)
Connecticut Spurs Startup Company Growth
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced a new public-private partnership to support high-growth entrepreneurship and speed the growth of young startup companies in the state. Startup Connecticut brings together a network of resources and support for startup companies to strengthen Connecticut's innovation environment. The partnership will provide a variety of resources to startup companies including technology, concept testing, mentors, funding, and key business connections. Resources are targeted to support companies less than five years old that are in the startup or second-stage phase of development. Startup Connecticut will establish a hub design to support young startups by launching regional centers enhanced by statewide services. Startup Connecticut is an initiative of the Department of Community and Economic Development.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)
North Carolina Pursues Coordinated STEM Strategy
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) announced a new partnership with the NC STEM Community Collaborative (NC STEM) to advance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education opportunities throughout the state. The new partnership will help align and expand promising state and local STEM efforts and allow NC STEM, NCDPI, and other STEM partners to organize K-12 public and private intiatives into a coordinated statewide STEM strategy. Through the new coordinated effort, NC STEM will work with NCDPI to:
- Conduct an inventory of current STEM programs across the state;
- Create a checklist of STEM attributes to help define quality programs;
- Develop STEM anchor and cluster schools;
- Build innovative STEM curricula;
- Expand virtual courses; and
- Increase the number and skills of teachers in STEM subjects.
Developing more STEM initiatives is a part of Governor Bev Perdue's Career & College, Ready, Set, Go! Initiative, and the new statewide STEM strategy is expected to be released this fall.
(Contact: Amanda Corcoran)
California Extends Financial Aid for Illegal Immigrant Students
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed the California Dream Act into law, making illegal immigrant students eligible for publicly funded financial aid for college. Under the current law, undocumented students are eligible for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities if they graduate from a California high school and apply for legal immigration status. In July, legislation granting that pool of students access to private sources of college aid was signed into law. Under the new law, effective January 2013, those students will also be able to apply for Cal Grants and other state aid. The California Department of Finance estimates that around 2,500 students will qualify for Cal Grants as a result of the law, at a cost of $14.5 million.
(Contact: Amanda Corcoran)
Ohio Moves to Expand Assisted Living
Ohio's Department of Aging received approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to revise the state's guidelines for its Assisted Living Medicaid Waiver. The revised guidelines incorporate changes that immediately give more seniors the ability to choose assisted living facilities as a long term care setting. Assisted living combines a home-like setting with personal support services to provide more intensive care than is available through home care services, and to provide older adults with a less expensive alternative to nursing facility care. First, the new guidelines eliminate a requirement that a person must have either been a resident of a nursing home for at least six months or receiving services in another Medicaid waiver program. Second, consumers will be allowed to begin receiving assisted living services while their Medicaid eligibility is being determined. Ohio's Assisted Living Waiver Program pays the costs of care in an assisted living facility for certain people with Medicaid, allowing the resident to use his or her resources to pay for "room and board."
(Contact: Kathryn Bailey)
California Removes Barriers to Telehealth Adoption and Usage
California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that aims to make it easier for health care providers to use telehealth in the delivery of care, especially in underserved rural areas of the state. "The Telehealth Advancement Act of 2011" eliminates several obstacles in California law to using telehealth related to consent and credentialing requirements. The law eliminates restrictions on the type of settings where telehealth may be used and on reimbursement for email or telephone consultations, and removes a requirement that doctors first document a barrier to a patient obtaining an in-person visit before they can use telehealth.
The legislation also eliminates a requirement that doctors obtain an additional written consent form from the patient. Finally, the law eliminates requirements that doctors be independently credentialed with every hospital to which they provide telehealth services. California healthcare facilities will instead be able to use a streamlined telehealth credentialing process recently approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
(Contact: Brad Finnegan)
Arizona Opens Facility for Offenders with Mental Illness
In an effort to provide better treatment to mentally ill offenders, the Arizona Department of Health Services recently opened a 120-bed facility at the Arizona State Hospital that will accommodate mentally ill patients in the court system. The Forensic Unit will treat patients who have been judged as guilty but legally insane or those who have been charged with crimes but are not competent to stand trial. The facility is intended to foster recovery and rehabilitation through therapeutic treatment options, without compromising public safety. The design of the new facility offers more security by limiting hiding places for contraband and giving staff the ability to view units. Patients will be moved to the new facility in November 2011.
(Contact: Jeff McLeod)
Michigan Launches Initiative to Prevent Cyber Attacks
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently unveiled the Michigan Cyber Initiative, a plan focused on preventing cyber attacks and minimizing their consequences. For each day in 2010, Michigan state government alone averaged 29,942 blocked web browser attacks, 24,671 blocked website attacks, 14,072 blocked network scans, and 88,774 blocked intrusion attempts. The anonymity of the Internet makes identifying those cyber intruders difficult and time-consuming. To address the problem of cyber attacks the Michigan initiative will:
- Allow law enforcement to coordinate cyber emergency responses at command centers;
- Develop high school and college curriculums in cyber security;
- Create a task force to share homeland security intelligence, and;
- Provide an online cyber toolkit for safeguarding homes, businesses, government, and schools.
Last year, over 8 million people nationwide reported cases of identity theft, costing over $37 billion. Without adequate protections, cyber intrusions can result in identity theft, compromised banking information, pirated software, or threats to the power grid.
(Contact: Carmen Ferro)
Puerto Rico Invests in Solar Energy
Puerto Rico Governor Luis G. Fortuño has announced the advancement of two large-scale renewable energy projects on the island, incentivized by the territory’s renewable energy laws. Construction is set to begin on a 24 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic facility, and financing was completed for a 75 MW land-based wind farm. Each project will be the first utility-scale facility of its kind on the island and the largest solar and wind generation installations, respectively, in the Caribbean. The projects are the first to benefit from the territory’s renewable energy incentive laws, which include the Energy Diversification Act and Green Energy Incentive Act, both of which were signed into law in July, 2010. The territory has approved power purchase agreements between each of the developers and the island’s utility.
The Green Energy Incentive Act also established a Green Energy Fund that has begun to invest in smaller-scale renewable energy projects. The fund allows the territory to offer financial incentives to renewable or alternative energy projects and promote the clean energy industry on the island, with separate incentives for small-scale (100 kilowatts or less in capacity), medium-scale (between 100 kilowatts and one megawatt), and large-scale projects (greater than one megawatt) projects. Revenue for the Green Energy Fund is collected from excise taxes on motor vehicles and motorcycles, with an initial capitalization of $20 million.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
California Approves Nonprofits to Run State Parks
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that authorizes the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to enter into agreements with approved nonprofit organizations for the maintenance or operation of state parks. The law requires nonprofits to submit annual reports to the DPR detailing financial expenditures and revenues for the year associated with the park's operation. The nonprofit organization and DPR must make the report available on their websites and must host annual public meetings to discuss the report. The bill also stipulates that expenditures from the state's General Fund may not be used to subsidize the operation of state parks by nonprofits. The new law is part of a suite of approaches California is taking to help keep its state parks open. Last week, the state reached an agreement with the National Park Service that will allow three state parks adjacent to national parks to remain open. The National Park Service will manage daily operations. The three parks to be managed by the National Park Service were among 70 state parks scheduled for closure due to budget shortfalls. Overall , California has 278 state parks. California's state park system is the largest in the nation and faced a $1.3 billion budget shortfall in 2010.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
States Analyze Local Labor Markets Using Online Job Ads
A report from Jobs for the Future outlines how states can monitor real-time local labor market information and use that knowledge to align training opportunities with current labor market needs. "Aligning Community Colleges to their Local Labor Markets" discusses the growing need for postsecondary education in the current economy and the pressure on community colleges to produce graduates with relevant skills and training. State agencies and community college systems have begun to analyze online job advertisements to quickly identify local hiring trends and emerging skill needs, and incorporate those trends into programs of study. The report provides a detailed step-by-step process for collecting and analyzing real-time data from local online job advertisements.
In addition, the report discusses how several state agencies and community college systems have successfully used online job advertisement data to improve their local labor market analysis and training offerings. States have used the following strategies:
- Analyze preferred qualification listings to identify education and experience requirements, and in-demand certifications and skills;
- Compare job advertisement data with unemployment insurance records to identify major skills mismatches;
- Recognize real-time trends in demand for emerging green jobs and skills; and
- Identify difficult-to-fill jobs and provide training for unemployed workers to fill these open jobs.
(Contact: Garrett Groves)
Report: Streamlining Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP
A report from Families USA titled "Presumptive Eligibility: A Step Toward Streamlined Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP" examines strategies to implement presumptive eligibility, a mechanism expanded by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Presumptive eligibility allows individuals to receive care while their full eligibility determination is being decided. States that implement presumptive eligibility can provide immediate temporary assistance to pregnant women and children who appear to be income eligible for Medicaid and CHIP respectively.
The report highlights potential areas where presumptive eligibility may be compatible with the goal of the ACA to develop systems of instant eligibility determination for medical coverage. In addition, the report proposes steps for state policymakers to ensure that presumptive eligibility is being considered before the mandated enrollment expansion in 2014, which include:
- Considering how presumptive eligibility fits into state's enrollment system
- Adopting presumptive eligibility for pregnant women and children early
- Conducting presumptive determinations for everyone in the family; and
- Considering authorizing additional qualified entities to determine presumptive eligibility
(Contact: Kathryn Bailey)
Report Explores Inequalities, Consequences of School Discipline
A policy brief released by the National Education Policy Center presents evidence on racial disparities in school discipline. Exploring trends over time and the impact that school suspension has on children and their families, the findings strongly suggest that excluding students from school for minor disciplinary issues limits educational opportunities and does not improve education for the remaining students. Specifically, the brief finds that:
- Frequent suspension or expulsion in response to non-violent and mundane forms of adolescent misbehavior do not improve educational outcomes;
- Large disparities by race, gender, and disability status are evident in the use of school suspensions and explusions;
- Frequent suspension and expulsion are associated with negative outcomes; and
- Better alternatives are available.
An accompanying brief offers discipline policy recommendations that can be adopted by state and federal policymakers to promote a safe and orderly learning environment while generating significantly less racial disparity. Recommendations for states include:
- Strengthening support and training for teachers to improve classroom and behavior management;
- Improving annual collection and reporting of discipline data; and
- Aligning discipline policy with academic achievement goals by helping schools reduce high suspension rates.
(Contact: Amanda Corcoran)
Report: Youth Incarceration Ineffective
A new report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation examines decades of research and new data on the effectiveness and costs of juvenile incarceration. The report concludes that incarcerating juveniles as a strategy for combating youth crime is ineffective, especially for less-serious youth offenders, and wastes limited state resources. Among the report's findings are that youth incarceration does not reduce crime in the future, provides no overall benefit to public safety, wastes taxpayer dollars, and exposes youth who are incarcerated to high levels of violence and abuse.
Based on those findings, the report highlights six recommendations for states looking to reform juvenile incarceration practices and improve system outcomes, including:
- Limit incarceration to youth who have committed violent felonies or other serious offenses;
- Redirect funds used to incarcerate youth to support proven treatment and supervision programs;
- Adopt funding mechanisms that provide an incentive for local courts to treat delinquent youth in their home communities;
- Adopt policy and practices proven to be effective for safely reducing the number of youth confined in correctional facilities;
- Place serious and chronic youth offenders into small, treatment-oriented facilities; and
(Contact: Jeff McLeod)
Report Highlights State Efforts to Measure Public Transit Performance
A report from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program outlines the state of performance measures for public transportation within state departments of transportation (DOTs). The report discusses the "state of the practice" for public transportation performance measurement, current performance measurement needs for state DOTs and challenges to adopting new performance measures, and case studies of six states—Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Virginia, and Washington. Of the 43 states that responded to the study, 30 currently utilize performance measures for public transportation, including ridership, availability, cost and efficiency, quality of service, asset management, and community impact. Best practices for utilizing public transportation performance measures center on five areas: performance measure development; data collection and analysis; coordination and cooperation with transit providers; accountability through reporting; and using performance measures to determine funding priorities.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
NGA Center Workshop: Economic Development in the Clean Energy Sector - Northeast and Midwest States
The NGA Center will be holding the first of three regional workshops October 18-19 in Providence, RI to discuss strategies for fostering economic growth in the emerging area of clean energy. Topics of discussion will include: pivoting existing economic development efforts to clean energy industries, applying strategies from past successes such as biosciences and information technology, and determining where clean energy's unique attributes require new approaches. Targeted participants are governors' energy and economic development advisors from the states of: CT, DE, IA, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, and WI. Future workshops will be held for Western states (December 8-9, 2011 in Phoenix, AZ) and Southern states (January 10-11, 2012 in Nashville, TN). States unable to attend the workshop in their region are welcome to attend one of the other workshops.
(Contact: Aliza Wasserman)
Policy Academy on Growth in Advanced Manufacturing Industries
Seven states have been selected to participate in the Policy Academy on "Making" our Future: Encouraging Growth Opportunities in Manufacturing through Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Investment. Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania will work to develop and implement successful economic development strategies related to manufacturing industries. The Policy Academy will help each state develop and implement a plan to improve the environment for innovation and align state research and development investments, workforce development, and education systems with the current and future needs of the state's advanced manufacturing industries. The first Policy Academy meeting took place on October 6 and 7. For more information, please visit www.nga.org/cms/center/ehsw.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)