Kentucky Sets Performance Targets for Higher Education
The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education released a set of rigorous performance targets for the state's colleges and universities. The targets support ongoing state education reforms with a focus on graduation rates, STEM, and college-readiness. Specifically, the council adopted the following targets for 2015:
- Eighty-one percent of incoming college students should be prepared for success in English and math (compared to 62 percent in 2008-2009);
- Twenty-one percent of teachers should score in the top 15 percent (nationally) on licensure exams (compared to 17 percent in 2008-2009);
- The six-year graduation rate for bachelor's degress should rise to 53 percent (compared to 47 percent in 2008-2009);
- External funding for STEM research should increase to $455 million (compared to $366 million in 2008-2009); and
- Thirty-seven percent of 25-44 year olds should hold at least an associate's degree (compared to 32 percent in 2008-2009).
The Council also worked with higher ed institutions to identify campus specific targets.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)
Wyoming Partnership Will Expand Internet Access in Schools
Wyoming has entered a partnership with CenturyLink to dramatically increase the percentage of students with access to broadband internet at school. Under the new contract, two-thirds of students will have access by the end of 2011. This is up from the current share of 27 percent. Ultimately, schools in 13 cities will receive access to broadband internet.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)
Mississippi to Revitalize Retail Centers, Strip Malls
Mississippi has launched a pilot program to support local community revitalization and economic development efforts through improvements to retail centers or "strip malls." The Retail Center Revitalization Program provides funding to revitalize dilapidated retail centers in local communities, in an effort to spur economic development efforts across the state. Retail center improvement projects must be part of a comprehensive economic development plan that links the retail center improvements with other revitalization efforts in downtown or town center areas. Revitalization activities eligible for funding include building façade improvements, landscaping, parking area improvements, curbside signage, and improved pedestrian access.
The pilot program also supports the development of local community partnerships: projects must be supported by partnerships between local government, retail center business owners, and regional planning and development districts (PDDs). The Mississippi Development Authority will contribute up to 50 percent of total project costs with a maximum grant of $50,000; the local partnership must contribute the remainder of the total project costs.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)
Kansas Moves to Improve Efficiency, Reduce Fraud in Social Benefit Delivery
Kansas will institute several reforms to social benefit program eligibility in an effort to reduce fraud and abuse and meet established goals of the programs. Policy reforms will affect three social benefit programs: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Child Care Assistance, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The reforms include:
- New requirements, including a directed job search for TANF participants, and proof of school enrollment will be required for all children in a family to qualify for TANF cash assistance;
- A revision that will expand "household income" to include the income of an unmarried boyfriend or girlfriend in determining eligibility for TANF and Child Care Assistance; and
- Families may choose a one-time payment of $1,000 to address emergency needs, in exchange for not entering the TANF program for 12 months.
The reforms also impose new rules prohibiting the purchase of alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets with the cash portion of SNAP benefit cards and a reduced lifetime limit for TANF benefits from 60 months down to 48 months. Program staff will increase assistance with job searches to help clients find full-time employment sooner.The changes will be fully implemented by January 1, 2012, and are expected to reduce costs by $10 million to $15 million.
(Contact: Linda Hoffman)
"Ready Georgia" App Delivers and Stores Disaster Data for Citizens
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) has released the "Ready Georgia" smartphone application (app), which gives Georgia users access to timely data during a disaster. The "Ready Georgia" app works to share the latest data from GEMA during an emergency and also allows each user to store their own personal disaster plans in the app—for example, emergency contact numbers, emergency out-of-town meeting place locations, and public school information. The app will push data to the individual user—such as shelter locations, traffic flow and weather—using geo-location technology.
(Contact: David Henry)
Kentucky Repurposes Prison as State Police Academy
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear joined state officials in the opening of a State Police training facility created within a vacated state prison. The former Frankfort minimum security prison was closed as Kentucky has reduced its prison population over the past three years. The new training academy provides 45,000 sq. ft. of space that will be used to centralize many state policy academy programs for state trooper training.
(Contact: David Henry)
North Dakota Enacts Rules for Wastewater from Hydraulic Fracturing
The North Dakota Industrial Commission gave initial approval to change rules regarding the handling of drilling waste resulting from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking is used to extract oil and natural gas trapped in underground rock formations. The rule changes would prohibit storing wastewater from pits used to prevent fracking waste from mixing with groundwater. Over the past year, the pits in North Dakota have contributed to more than 30 spills of fracking fluid or wastewater. The new rules would require wastewater to be stored in steel tanks for later recycling or disposal. The rules are subject to a public hearing process before they would take effect.
North Dakota produces more than 420,000 barrels of oil per day from around 5,700 wells. While more commonly associated with natural gas development, fracking is also used for oil development in North Dakota where nearly half of the state's oil wells rely on fracking. According to state officials, the proposed rule changes are designed to prevent further wastewater problems from around 25,000 new oil wells planned for North Dakota.
(Contact: Amanda Hoey)
California Boosts Solar at Schools
California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills designed to bolster the state's commitment to clean energy. SB 585 will help public schools finance solar installations by authorizing the use of $200 million under the California Solar Initiative (CSI). The California Solar Initiative (CSI) is a solar rebate program for customers of three of the state's four investor-owned utilities, funded via rate payer charges. The solar panels, slated for construction on school parking structures and playground equipment, are expected to save $14 million in energy costs over the next 25 years. The solar projects will help meet the statewide goal of 20,000 megawatts from renewable sources by 2020.
Governor Brown also signed AB 1150, which authorizes the California Public Utilities Commission to collect funds for the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). The SGIP program makes $83 million in rebates available each year for the installation of distributed renewable energy. Qualifying technologies include wind turbines, fuel cells, and energy storage systems. Since it began in 2001, SGIP funds have supported over 348 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy projects. The SGIP is available to customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas Company, and San Diego Gas & Electric.
(Contact: Amanda Hoey)
Michigan Enacts Health Claims Assessment
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation that eliminates an existing six percent use tax on Medicaid managed care organizations and replaces it with a broad-based, one percent health care claims assessment to be paid by health insurers, including self-funded employer plans and third party administrators. The tax goes into effect on January 1, 2012 and will ensure that federal matching dollars for Medicaid are secure, should the federal government issue an expected notice prohibiting taxes on managed care plans.
The law includes limits on the total revenue that the tax can collect. If annual collections exceed $400 million plus an amount reflecting the medical inflation rate, then each carrier or third party administrator would receive a credit against their assessment in the succeeding year. Out-of-pocket expenditures by individuals, such as copayments and deductibles, will not be taxed under the new law. Additionally, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare prescription drug plans and plans covering federal employees are exempt.
(Contact: Brad Finnegan)
Connecticut Council Will Examine Home Care
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy issued an executive order establishing a panel to investigate and issue recommendations on growing and retaining the personal home care workforce in the state. The Personal Care Attendant Quality Home Care Workforce Council is to be chaired by the Commissioner of Social Services and comprised of the Commissioner of Developmental Services, the state's Healthcare Advocate, and four members representing the elderly and people with disabilities appointed by the governor.
The Council is tasked with studying the issues relating to the recruitment and retention of personal care attendants, and making recommendations to improve the quality, stability, and availability of them. This includes collaborating with the majority representative of personal care attendants in the state to develop effective ways to identify and recruit attendants, develop training opportunities for both attendants and consumers, and to establish attendant registries for consumer access.
(Contact: Brad Finnegan)
Report Details State-by-State Impact of Economic Downturn
The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) recently released a state-by-state report on the affect of the economic downturn on income and poverty. With median income dropping in nearly every state,the report shows that while the recession hit Americans in all states, there are striking regional differences in the severity of the downturn. Highlights of the report's findings include:
- Real median household income dropped in 43 states since 2007.
- The increases of people in poverty were concentrated in the west (increase of 2.4 million), the south (increase of 3.3 million) and the midwest (increase of 1.6 million).
- The percentage of children living in poverty increased in 42 states and the District of Columbia, with five states and the District of Columbia reporting an increase of more than 5 percentage points.
- The number of people living below the poverty threshold rose in every state and the District of Columbia. The only exception was Montana, which had no change.
(Contact: Alex Cawthorne)
World Consumption of Energy to Grow Over 50 Percent by 2035
The Energy Information Administration's (EIA) new International Energy Outlook 2011 projects world energy consumption togrow 53 percent from 2008 to 2035, driven by strong demand from growing developing economies. The report also projects energy growth by sector. EIA findings show:
- China and India will continue to drive world energy demand growth. Those countries account for 21 percent of the world's energy consumption currently, and their collective demand is expected to rise to 31 percent by 2035.
- Renewable energy will be the fastest growing source of energy over the next 25 years. The share of renewable energy is projected to grow 2.8 percent annually, increasing from 10 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2035.
- Fossil fuels will continue to comprise the bulk of worldwide energy consumption and EIA projects account for 78 percent of world energy use in 2035. Natural gas will be the fastest growing fossil fuel, 1.6 percent per year, from 111 trillion cubic feet in 2008 to 169 trillion cubic feet in 2035. Growth comes primarily from unconventional natural gas (e.g., shale gas) supplies from the United States, as well as Canada and China.
- Both world oil prices and demand are projected to remain high; prices will reach $125 per barrel with consumption peaking at 26.9 million barrels per day between 2008 and 2035. However, the growth in conventional crude oil production is expected to be only 11.5 million barrels per day with most production growth coming from unconventional resources, including biofuels, oil sands, coal-to-liquids, and gas-to-liquids.
(Contact: Amanda Hoey)
Report: Well-Placed Video Surveillance Cameras Deter Crime
Surveillance cameras are effective in reducing crime for some areas, according to a report by the Urban Institute. The report, Evaluating the Use of Public Surveillance Cameras for Crime Control and Prevention, examines the effectiveness of video surveillance systems on reducing crime in three cities: Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. In most cases the savings and benefits of fewer crimes outweighed the cost of the surveillance system. However, the report recommends several issues to consider when implementing a video surveillance plan:
- Prioritize privacy when deciding how and where to install cameras;
- Develop and disseminate written policies on how surveillance footage will be used to build public support;
- Prepare for the cost of installation, maintenance, monitoring, and technology upgrades to be higher than the cost of the cameras themselves;
- Install cameras in one or two areas first to let police figure out how best to place cameras and monitor them before going to scale;
- Invest in active monitoring which allows police to zoom into a scene to capture important details of a crime that may be missed if the camera is simply programmed on an automated tour, panning back and forth; and
- Prioritize training of detectives and prosecutors on the limitations of video evidence and how it typically enhances, rather than serves as a substitute for, witness testimony.
If deployed the right way, Cameras are an effective tool in reducing crime by deterring potential offenders, alerting police to dangerous situations, generating evidence to help identify suspects and witnesses, and fostering the perception of safety for the public.
(Contact: Alisha Powell)
Report: Spending Gap Widening between Public, Private Higher Ed Institutions
A recent study of higher education funding, conducted by the Delta Project, has found an increasing gap in spending across public and private institutions. The study showed that while private research institutions increased per-pupil spending by $907 between 2008-2009, per-pupil spending at public research institutions increased by just $92 between 2008-2009.
The report recommends policymakers work to build transparency in the relationship between tuition and revenue sources to better identify the services tuition is funding. Additionally, the report recommends a focus on improving the high school to college completion pipeline to ensure students enter college prepared for success.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)
Report Offers Profile of Medicaid Managed Care Programs in 2010
The Kaiser Family Foundation released a report analyzing state Medicaid managed care programs in 2010. The report – A Profile of Medicaid Managed Care Programs in 2010: Findings from a 50-State Survey – was jointly conducted by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (KCMU) and Health Management Associates to assess the status of Medicaid managed care in each state.
Nearly all states operate comprehensive Medicaid managed care programs, which cover about 66 percent of all Medicaid beneficiaries. Among the findings of the report:
- Almost two-thirds of Medicaid MCO enrollees are in plans that primarily or exclusively serve Medicaid;
- Over half the states with MCOs include a pay-for-performance in their payment to plans;
- Thirty-nine states have initiatives to improve primary care and to better coordinate care for Medicaid beneficiaries with more complex needs; and
- Severe budget pressure remains a key challenge for states, who will increasingly rely on expanding managed care a near-term solution.
(Contact: Kathryn Bailey)
States Invited to Participate in Regional Summits on Growing State Economies
As part of the yearlong NGA Chair's Initiative on Growing State Economies, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices will be hosting four regional summits. These summits will provide states an opportunity to learn from experts and business owners about the best strategies to create an environment focused on the importance of high-growth businesses in all its forms—startup firms, scalable enterprises, and transformational corporations. The summits also will provide time for states to engage in strategic planning and share successful examples.
States in good standing with NGA are invited to send a team of up to seven high-level individuals to one of the four regional summits. Travel and hotel expenses will be covered for three senior advisors (e.g., commerce director and policy advisor) from each state. State teams may include up to five additional individuals, at the state's expense, who play important roles in economic development (e.g., business leaders, industry association leaders, research park directors, or venture fund managers).
The four regional summits will be held in the following locations:
Hartford, Connecticut on October 11–12, 2011;
Nashville, Tennessee on November 14-15, 2011; *Date changed since original annoucement
Seattle, Washington on January 24-25, 2012; and
Omaha, Nebraska on April 24-25, 2012.
Please contact Erin Sparks if you have questions about the summits or application.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)