Author Archives: afscme

2013 Infrastructure Report Card

Source: American Society of Civil Engineers, March 2013

From the summary:
…Once every four years, America’s civil engineers provide a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s major infrastructure categories in ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (Report Card). Using a simple A to F school report card format, the Report Card provides a comprehensive assessment of current infrastructure conditions and needs, both assigning grades and making recommendations for how to raise the grades. An Advisory Council of ASCE members assigns the grades according to the following eight criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation. Since 1998, the grades have been near failing, averaging only Ds, due to delayed maintenance and underinvestment across most categories.

Now the 2013 Report Card grades are in, and America’s cumulative GPA for infrastructure rose slightly to a D+. The grades in 2013 ranged from a high of B- for solid waste to a low of D- for inland waterways and levees. Solid waste, drinking water, wastewater, roads, and bridges all saw incremental improvements, and rail jumped from a C- to a C+. No categories saw a decline in grade this year….

Reducing Correctional Health Care Spending

Source: Laura Tobler and Kristine Goodwin, LegisBrief, Vol. 21 no. 12, March 2013
(subscription required)

State spending on corrections quadrupled during the last two decades, making it second only to Medicaid in budget growth, according to a Pew report. Aging inmates and the associated expenses for their health care services are among the factors driving costs. The number of sentenced state and federal inmates over age 55 grew by about 194 percent between 1999 and 2011, based on Bureau of Justice Statistics. In 2011, 7.9 percent of the these inmates were over age 55, up from 3.4 percent in 1999. Older inmates more often require long-term care and medications for complex and expensive chronic medical and mental conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and loss of mobility. This aging inmate population places a strain on state budgets. The Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency found that the cost of providing care for inmates between the ages of 55 and 59 was more than four times the cost for those between the ages of 20 and 24. This LegisBrief is based on a forthcoming report from the State Health Care Spending Project an initiative of Pew and the MacArthur Foundation that will outline state actions to contain correctional health care spending in more detail.

The State of America’s Libraries, 2012

Source: American Libraries, Digital Supplement, 2012

As the national economy continues to struggle toward recovery from the Great Recession, 2011 was a year of grim headlines. The federal Library of Congress lost about 9% of its budget and 10% of its workforce. Detroit, a city in fiscal crisis, agonized all year over how many library branches to close. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed a budget that would eliminate 268 currently vacant positions and lay off almost 300 from the library system. (After he was met by hundreds of protesters of all ages, including a group of fist-pumping preschoolers, the mayor backtracked…somewhat.) The Huffington Post took note of it all and started a series in November headlined “Libraries in Crisis.”

But there was good news as well. The Troy (Mich.) Public Library was saved from closing permanently after some 58% of voters, who had rejected two similar measures in the past few years, approved a five-year operating millage. In Los Angeles, voters in March approved by 63% a measure to increase dedicated spending for the Los Angeles Public Library system by $50 million over the next few years without raising taxes, allowing reinstated full-time hours for 73 branches. …

Costs of Voter ID

Source: Karen Shanton, LegisBrief , Vol. 21 no. 12, March 2013
(subscription required)

Photo ID is on the agenda again this session in many states. Bills requiring voters to show photographic identification at the polls have been introduced in at least 14 state legislatures, and lawmakers plan to introduce them in at least three more. Proponents argue that these requirements preserve the integrity of elections, while opponents say they may discourage eligible voters from casting ballots.

Photo ID laws could carry costs. Providing free ID cards, voter education, expanded poll worker training and/or wages, additional provisional ballots and legal challenges are some of the expenses states can anticipate. Following is a summary of the types of costs often associated with these laws.

Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts May Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come

Source: Phil Oliff, Vincent Palacios, Ingrid Johnson, and Michael Leachman, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 19, 2013

From the press release:
Public universities and colleges in nearly every state have seen their state funding decline sharply, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Nationwide, states are on average spending 28 percent less this year than they did in 2008, a decrease of $2,353 per student. As a result, colleges and universities have had to raise tuition, make changes that undermine educational quality, or both.
Austerity’s forgotten victims: State universities
Source: Peter Temin, Salon, March 25, 2013

State Court Organization

Source: S. Strickland, R. Schauffler, R. LaFountain & K. Holt, eds., National Center for State Courts, Last updated 06 March 2013

State Court Organization (SCO) presents detailed comparative data about how state trial and appellate courts are organized and administered in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territories of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands. With topics ranging from the types of courts established in each state to specific aspects of law or procedure, State Court Organization is the source for authoritative answers to fundamental questions about the operations of each state’s court system.

For the first time, the information compiled for SCO is available through a web-based, interactive application that allows users to customize the display of data so that it best answers their questions. Comparison is facilitated by the ability of users to sort and filter data to focus on specific issues of interest and characteristics of courts. This new, interactive approach to State Court Organization information facilitates the examination of differing state approaches to court administration and related procedures and rules.
Interactive State Court Organization App
Sections include:

Judicial Branch Governance
Provides information on the governance, funding, and administration of the judicial branch. Tables address topics such as the procedures of judicial nomination, compensation, and evaluation commissions; judicial education and judicial discipline policies; media coverage of the courts; and the use of interpreters and guardians.

Appellate Courts
Provides information on the structure, staffing, and procedures of the nation’s appellate courts. Tables address the number of appellate courts and judges, the selection process and qualifications needed to be an appellate judge, the selection process and number of appellate court clerks, size of the legal staff, the responsibilities of chief judges and clerk offices, and the procedures for oral argument and expediting appeals.

Trial Courts
Provides information on the structure, staffing, and procedures of the nation’s trial courts. Tables address topics such as the number of trial courts and judges; the selection process and qualifications needed to be a trial judge; the number, selection process, and responsibilities of trial court administrators and trial court clerks; the selection and responsibilities of presiding judges; and information on specialty courts (problem-solving) as well as specialty jurisdiction (death penalty).

Provides information on the jury process in trial courts. Tables address topics such as the grand jury; juror selection, exemption, and qualifications; the number of peremptory challenges per case type; and jury size, procedures, and verdict rules per case type.

Provides information on the types of technology utilized by the nation’s trial and appellate courts. Tables address topics such as the use and capabilities of case management, e-filing, and jury management systems; the external exchange of and public access to court data; and the selection and responsibilities of chief information officers.

State Higher Education Finance FY 2012

Source: State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO), 2013

From the press release:
The association of State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) has released its annual State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) report, which provides a comprehensive review of state and local funding, tuition revenue, and enrollment trends for public higher education.

This is the fourth SHEF report since the 2007-2008 academic year when state and local support for higher education was $88.8 billion, enrollment in public institutions reached 10.3 million full-time-equivalent students, and the national economy entered a recession. In 2012, the effects of the recession continue with total state and local support at $81.2 billion–down 7 percent from 2011. In 2012, enrollment declined slightly from the prior year to 11.5 million full-time equivalent students but still 1.2 million more FTE students (12.4 percent) enrolled than in 2008. Although enrollment stabilized in 2012, the reduction in state and local support combined with an increase in inflation contributed to a 9 percent decrease in state and local support per student in constant dollars from 2011. Per student support in 2012 is $5,896, the lowest level in the 25 years shown in the SHEF report.
See also:
Tables and Charts from SHEF FY 2012 Final Report
All SHEF Data Table
Figures: Public Postsecondary Enrollment, Net Tuition Revenue and Educational Appropriations per FTE, 1987-2012 – PDF Version
Figures: Public Postsecondary Enrollment, Net Tuition Revenue and Educational Appropriations per FTE, 1987-2012 – XLS Version

Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws

Source: Catalyst for Payment Reform and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, March 18, 2013

…The objective of this research was to determine how much pricing information each state makes accessible to the consumer. As a result, we allocated more points to states with laws requiring that information be posted on a public website than to those with provisions for releasing a public report, making the information available upon request, and only releasing the information to a specific state agency. Within each of the four levels of transparency, we allocated higher points to the broadest scope of price, services, and providers. For instance, releasing information specific to both what was paid for a service and what was charged for that service is more meaningful than only releasing what was charged. Charges often are of little value to consumers; the amount that is actually paid for the service, particularly the amount that the consumer is responsible for paying, provides the most actionable information. Similarly, releasing pricing information for all inpatient and outpatient services and for all hospitals and providers, rather than just the most common services or a subset of providers, is more meaningful to the consumer. As a result, we allotted a higher point value to the broader scope of services/providers…
29 States Get ‘F’ For Price Transparency Laws
Source: Russ Mitchell, Kaiser Health News, March 18th, 2013