Pennsylvania Moves to Spur Competition Among Schools
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett recently released a statewide education reform plan that focuses on spurring competition among schools in an attempt to improve their performance. A centerpiece of the plan is the Opportunity Scholarship Program—a program that would provide tuition assistance for eliglible students to attend a public or non-public school of their choice. Eligiblity for the scholarships would be based on income and apply to students zoned to attend one of the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools across the state. Other key components of the governor's plan include:
- An increase in the Educational Improvement Tax Credit, which provides tax credits to businesses that fund scholarships or other educational improvement programs or organizations;
- A pilot program to implement a rigorous new statewide teacher evaluation system; and
- Improved charter school quality and accountability provisions.
(Contact: Amanda Corcoran)
Delaware Unveils Principal Coaching Program
The Delaware Department of Education has launched a leadership coaching program for principals in high-needs schools. Employing a personal-trainer model, the coaching program will provide individualized support to principals—many of whom are new to their role—for twelve months, followed by six additional months of progress monitoring. The coaches will work one-on-one with principals to set leadership development goals and design training and support plans to address areas of need such as financial management or instructional leadership. Twenty schools selected by district and charter school leaders will begin the program this year, and next year another cohort of twenty schools will be selected to participate. The two-and-a-half-year program will cost $2.5 million and is funded jointly through state and local Race to the Top funds.
(Contact: Amanda Corcoran)
Kentucky Forms Council of Practitioners to Help Combat Illegal Prescriptions
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has issued an executive order creating an advisory council to develop guidelines for administrators of the state's prescription drug monitoring system in determining whether doctor prescribing practices may be criminal. The advisory council—made up of physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, and members of law enforcement—will create the guidelines based on generally accepted practices among different medical disciplines. If a physician's prescribing practices appear to be irregular, administrators may submit them for further review by the medical licensure board or for criminal investigation. The guidelines are expected to help the state improve its drug monitoring program by helping it more effectively target doctors who participate in the illegal distribution of prescription drugs.
(Contact: Jeff McLeod)
Washington Converts Medium Security Prison
Washington Governor Chris Gregoire endorsed a plan developed by the Department of Corrections to convert one of the most expensive prisons in the state, the Washington State Penitentiary, from a medium to a minimum custody facility. According to a recent analysis, the plan will correct an imbalance in the state's prison capacity, too little minimum security capacity and too much medium security capacity. Because minimum security prisons require less staff and other operating expenses are also lower, the conversion of the facility will save an estimated $10 million per year.
(Contact: Anne Elizabeth Johnson)
New York Implements Government Efficiency Efforts
New York is taking several steps to reduce waste and cut inefficiencies in procurement, better manage its real estate, and consolation of some information systems. Those reforms are projected to save $600 million over the next five years. The state will adopt the strategic sourcing method for procurement processes, which uses a market-based approach to gather cost data and leverages the state's buying power to secure the lowest costs for purchasing. Strategic sourcing will now be used for purchases across agencies in categories including food, information technology services, software, and office supplies.
New York also intends to reduce costs by better managing its real estate portfolio. Agencies that currently lease office space will move into state-owned buildings as their leases expire and the state intends to better manage the office space it owns in Albany by creating a centralized real estate office. In addition, the state will consolidate information technology (IT) infrastructure and processes to increase efficiency. Data center, help desk, and email services will be consolidated over the next three years. State agencies will also complete a statewide inventory of IT assets, which will allow the state to eliminate duplication and standardize its IT platforms.
(Contact: Lauren Stewart)
Wisconsin Consolidates Public Assistance Fraud Prevention Efforts
Wisconsin is consolidating its efforts to prevent fraud in and ensure the program integrity of public assistance programs within the Department of Health Services. The department's new Office of the Inspector General will house all anti-fraud and program integrity functions related to public assistance programs including FoodShare; Medicaid; the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and the state supplement to Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Previously, fraud prevention efforts were embedded within individual programs. Consolidating anti-fraud efforts into one office is intended to improve coordination and communication between agencies and allow for easier identification of fraudulent applications for benefits.
(Contact: Alexandra Cawthorne)
California Streamlines Eligibility for State Health Programs
California Governor Jerry Brown enacted the "Health Care Reform Eligibility, Enrollment, and Retention Planning Act," which requires the California Health and Human Services Agency to establish a single standardized, and accessible application form and related renewal procedures. The form is to be used by all entities accepting and processing applications for enrolling consumers in health coverage, including Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, the state health insurance exchange, and county health programs.
The bill streamlines eligibility rules for the Medi-Cal program and premium subsidies in the state's health insurance exchange, coordinates citizenship and identify verification for program applications and renewals, and maximizes enrollment in the programs. The bill requires the Health and Human Services Agency to provide specific information to the state legislature by July 1, 2012 regarding policy changes to implement the bill.
(Contact: Maria Schiff)
Maryland Seeking Electricity from Animal Waste
Maryland plans to purchase electric power generated from animal waste to help meet its renewable energy goals and reduce environmental pollution. The state has released a request for proposals seeking suppliers who can provide electricity from generators that are primarily fueled by animal waste. Suppliers must have a generating capacity of at least 10 megawatts, be connected into the regional electric grid, and be able to supply power to the state by December 31, 2015. Manure-based electric generation qualifies as a Tier I resource under the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires that 20 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2022. The state's goal is to foster the development of animal waste generating facilities to help the state meet its RPS goals while reducing the amount of nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. The solicitation is a joint effort including the state's departments of general services, agriculture, environment and natural resources, the Maryland Energy Administration, and the University of Maryland.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
Delaware Releases Statewide Plan for Trails
Delaware Governor Jack Markell has released a plan for a statewide network of trails and paths. The plan creates or expands multi-use trails throughout the state, both within and outside of state parks. The governor's goals in creating the statewide trail network include creating new transportation links in and between communities, creating jobs through local infrastructure investments, promoting non-motorized transportation and its related health benefits, and fostering innovation in sustainable design. To help implement the plan, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement that outlines the responsibilities of each agency for trail construction, operation, maintenance, and financial stewardship. DelDOT and DNREC will also host public meeting throughout the state to gather local input on trail routes and design.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
Report: States Need to Track Postsecondary Performance
A new white paper released by College Summit calls for states to more systematically track the performance of students in postsecondary education and to use the data collected to improve high schools and help inform policy decisions. Citing a lack of college and career readiness among high school graduates, the report argues that it is states that have the incentive, means, and standing to collect and act on data that tracks the peformance of students in postsecondary education, including measures such as college enrollment, credit accumulation, and college remediation rates. In order to address the college readiness deficit and provide schools and districts with information on how their students are performing after graduation, the report recommends that states take the following four steps:
- Improve the ability to measure students' postsecondary success;
- Make the postsecondary success data available statewide;
- Provide technical assistance to help districts translate data and reports into action; and
- Reward districts and schools that improve students' enrollment and postsecondary performance.
The report also rates each state according to whether or not it has the capacity to link K-12 and postsecondary data and measure students' postsecondary success.
(Contact: Amanda Corcoran)
Cyber Security Resource Guide Highlights State Efforts
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) released a comprehensive resource guide on state cyber security efforts. NASCIO partnered with the United States Department of Homeland Security National Cyber Security Division, the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, and the National Cyber Security Alliance to prepare the guide in anticipation of National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The guide provides a comprehensive list of each state's cyber preparedness activities, state initiatives, state programs, and public awareness programs. The guide lists contact information for each state chief information security officer as well as training and education programs.
(Contact: David Henry)
Report Examines Medicaid Managed Long-Term Service and Support Programs
The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured released a report examining the key issues for states to consider in moving from traditional fee-for-service for long-term services and supports (LTSS) to Medicaid managed long-term services and supports (MLTSS). The report indicates that relative to fee-for-service programs, MLTSS programs reduce the use of institutional services and increase access to home and community-based services, but the evidence of whether the model saves money is less definitive.
The report highlights several lessons for states considering providing long term care services through capitated payments to managed care organizations (MCOs), including:
- The extent to which MLTSS programs cover institutional services, medical care, or behavioral health services, in addition to community-based LTSS, affects MCOs' ability to coordinate services and manage costs effectively;
- Community-based organizations play a vital role in ensuring an adequate supply of LTSS, and it is important to consider their role in a managed long-term care system; and
- Strong state oversight of MCOs, including quality measures and ongoing feedback from consumers and providers, is essential.
(Contact: Jason Hsieh)
Report Outlines Connection between Demand Response, Smart Grid and Renewable Energy
A report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory outlines how demand response (DR), which includes time-of-use pricing and voluntary curtailments in electricity use, can support efforts to integrate variable renewable energy resources into the U.S. power supply. The report examines how DR programs can help integrate wind and solar resources in the U.S. power system, including the role of the smart grid in enabling demand response. The smart grid includes advanced electricity meters and other technologies that facilitate two way communications between customers and utilities. The authors conclude that:
- Deployment of smart grid technologies can enable DR opportunities;
- Time-based electric rates (i.e., real-time pricing), enabled by the smart grid, can better facilitate integration of variable energy resources like solar and wind; and
- DR programs are most effective if both residential and commercial electricity customers are willing to participate in utility or third-party (independent) operated DR programs.
The authors also recommend further analysis of risks, costs and benefits of various DR strategies.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
NGA Invites States to National Summit on Government Redesign
The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices is pleased to invite states to attend the National Summit on Government Redesign: Solutions for Making Tough Budget Choices to be held in Alexandria, Virginia on December 13 and 14, 2011. Travel-related expenses will be covered for two participants from each state, and states are welcome to send more at their own expense.
The summit will allow state teams to learn about best practices and share experiences around those efforts to reform and streamline state government. The meeting will emphasize those reforms and changes that reduce the cost of state government as opposed to those reforms that make government more efficient but do not reduce its cost. Participants will hear from national experts and their peers in other states on topics such as how to implement a budget review, managing state assets, agency consolidation and streamlining, pension and benefit reform, changing Medicaid to constrain cost growth, corrections reforms, and managing K-12 budgets to promote efficiency. The meeting will include a mix of plenary and breakout sessions so that state teams can learn about national trends as well as specific case examples.
Please contact Lauren Stewart if you have any questions about the summit.
(Contact: Lauren Stewart)