What trends are SLC states witnessing regarding HIV/AIDS infection?
A recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that there were more than 1.1 million people in the United States living with HIV infection at the end of 2006. The figure is up from 994,000 at the end of 2003, an 11 percent increase. Experts attribute the rise partly to advances in antiviral treatments that increase the life of infected persons. However, the availability of proper education and other preventative measures are a growing concern for states that are experiencing these dramatic increases. Like most regions of the country, SLC states have seen a steady decline in reported AIDS cases since the early 1990s. From July 1995 to June 1996, SLC states reported 24,037 cases of AIDS in the region. From July 2000 to June 2001, states reported only 15,950 cases, a decline of 27 percent for the five-year period. However, that number rose back to 18,946 for the reporting year July 2004 to June 2005. This "fall and rise" trend is represented for most of the 16 SLC states in the chart below. Only Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Virginia saw a decline in reported AIDS cases in the latter comparison.
|State||July, 1995 |
- June 1996
|July, 2000 |
- June, 2001
|% change||July, 2000 |
- June, 2001
|July, 2004 |
- June, 2005
Part I (3 MB)
Regional summary and comparisons
State Profiles (10 MB)
To view individual state reports, click on a state from the map or list below
How do the SLC states rank in the prevalence of high-speed broadband networks?
High speed Internet is essential for economic growth and global competitiveness. The United States – the country that invented the Internet – has fallen from 1st to 15th in high-speed Internet penetration. The emergence of a new telecommunications system – one based on high-speed interactive networks designed for voice, data, and video communications – opens up tremendous opportunities for improving the quality of economic, civic, and personal lives. Conversely, the lack of widespread high-speed connections can hinder innovations in telemedicine, education, public safety, and home-based businesses. A recent report by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) highlights some of the benefits of an effective state-wide, high-speed broadband network:
In addition to the report, the CWA also has ranked all the states in the nation by their respective average internet download speeds and created model legislation to initiate the necessary growth in the electronic communications industry.
|Download Speed Ranking |
|Download Speed Ranking (nationwide)||State||Number of Internet Speed Tests Conducted||Median Download Speed (kilobytes per second)|
Part I (2.6 MB)
Regional summary and comparisons
State Profiles (3.1 MB)
To view individual state reports, click on a state from the map or list below
What is the most recently released data on the asset mix of the nation's state retirement plans?
The turmoil on Wall Street in the last few weeks–with the Dow careening 778 points downwards on a single day in September 2008, the largest point drop ever, when the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a financial bailout plan–continues to befuddle policymakers and citizens alike. As we await the positive developments of the recently enacted Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, Americans across the country anxiously monitor their own perilous financial positions. The current turbulence on Wall Street comes at a time when state finances were already under a great deal of pressure. Even though state revenues had begun to recover from the recession that swept over the country at the beginning of this decade, several disturbing fiscal signs began to appear by late 2006 and early 2007. The nation's housing market, which had been a major contributor to the surge in economic activity in the aftermath of the 2001 recession, began to crumble as a result of a mortgage meltdown.
How have these developments from impacted state finances? One of the ways involves the adverse impact of the ongoing Wall Street tumult on a state's investment portfolio. In the last 15 years or so, states have moved aggressively away from the more staid but secure U.S. Treasury bills to more exposure to non-governmental equities, such as stock in many of the financial firms that have either disintegrated or been negatively affected by recent trends. Thus, it is a safe assumption that most states have some exposure and that their overall portfolios have eroded.
The October 2008 Question of the Month relates to an inquiry that sought to determine the asset mix of the nation's state retirement plans. Four of the top 10 plans in the nation are under SLC states, while at the other end of the spectrum, three of the bottom ten belong to SLC states.
|Top Ten Plans|
|Bottom Ten Plans|
Funded Ratio Percent (1)
Percent of Cash & Deposits in Total Portfolio (2)
Percent of Governmental Securities in Total Portfolio (3)
Percent of Non-Governmental Securities in Total Portfolio (4)
Percent of Other Investments in Total Portfolio (5)
What are the historical starting salaries for correctional officers in the SLC states?
|State / Year||2000||2001||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007|
What are the number and enrollment figures for charter schools in the South?
Charter schools are publicly funded schools that have been provided waivers from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to similar school in exchange for some meeting specific accountability targets, laid out in the school's charter. The charter school movement traces its history to the late 1980s, with the first state charter legislation passed (by Minnesota) in 1991. Currently, 40 states and the District of Columbia have the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have signed into law charter school legislation. A total of 1,122,367 students are enrolled in 3,909 school across the country.
|Year Law Passed||Number of Charter Schools||Number of Students Enrolled|
How have record-high gasoline prices impacted driving habits in the SLC region?
With gas prices reaching record highs and public transit ridership surging to unprecedented heights, the latest U.S. Department of Transportation statistics (April 2008) indicate that Americans are driving less for the sixth month in a row. Specifically, Americans drove 1.4 billion fewer highway miles in April 2008 than at the same time a year earlier and 400 million miles less than in March of this year. In addition, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on all public roads for April 2008 fell by 1.8 percent compared with April 2007, a decline of nearly 20 billion miles traveled this year, and nearly 30 billion miles traveled since November 2007.
The following information has been collected from Traffic Volume Trends, a monthly report based on hourly traffic count data reported by the States. These data are collected at approximately 4,000 continuous traffic counting locations (stations) nationwide and are used to estimate the percent change in traffic for the current month compared with the same month in the previous year.
Vehicle Miles Traveled on All Estimated Roads
Number of Stations
Vehicle Miles (in Millions)
Auto: The Resilient South
A great deal has been written about the complex and overwhelming challenges confronting the American automotive industry – mostly domiciled in the Midwest – in the last few decades.1 Researchers have demonstrated the rapidly shrinking portion of American-made new car and noncommercial light truck sales as a percentage of total U.S. sales: in 1997, the Big Three (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) accounted for 71 percent of new car and noncommercial light truck sales, while Asian automakers' sales totaled under 25 percent; by 2007, the Big Three's share had plunged to 51 percent while the Asian automakers' share had propelled to 42 percent. Toyota outsold GM in the first quarter of 2008 (2.41 million compared to 2.25 million) and there is speculation that 2008 will be the year when Toyota unseats GM in global sales.
Researchers have also noted the dire financial fortunes of the Big Three as they hemorrhage vast amounts of cash and battle a range of structural problems, including sizable pension and health care obligations. Concurrently, researchers have highlighted the thriving automobile sector in a number of Southern states, given the increasing number of foreign automakers establishing assembly plants in this part of the country. In stark contrast to the difficult fiscal positions of such states as Michigan and Ohio –primarily as a result of the contracting automobile sector – the industry continues to flourish in the South, generate billions of dollars in economic impact and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
In light of the negative effects of a slowing national economy, how is the industry currently faring in the South? Does it still continue to be a major player in the region's economic calculations? Learn how the automotive industry in the South is coping with the deteriorating national economy, one that is either already enmeshed or lurching very close to a recession.
Prior to delving into the industry's recent performance in the South, it is appropriate to quickly review why the region has attracted such an impressive roster of foreign automakers in the last 25 years or so. Researchers highlight the following factors:
How many nuclear facilities and reactors are located in the SLC states?
|Kentucky *|| |
|North Carolina|| |
|Oklahoma *|| |
|South Carolina|| |
In the South, what percentage of the adult population drives while intoxicated or under the influence of illicit drugs?
A recent survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that in some Midwestern states up to a quarter of the adult population drives while intoxicated.
Based on the combined 2004 to 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health data from current drivers aged 18 or older, an average of 15.1% had driven under the influence of alcohol during the past year and 4.7% had driven under the influence of illicit drugs.
The 16 Southern states fared rather well in the national survey, with none among the top 10 most dangerous states, and only a few in the top 20. On average, 13.2 percent and 4.5 percent of Southern adults had driven under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year, respectively.
Percentages of Current Drivers1 Aged 18 or Older Reporting Driving Under the
Influence of Alcohol in the Past Year, by State: 2004, 2005, and 2006
|State||Percent||SE (%) 2||State||Percent||SE (%) 2|
Legislative Orientation Programs in the Southern States
What are the methods of selection for leadership positions in the state Legislatures of the Southern Legislative Conference?
|State||Speaker||Speaker pro tem||Majority leader||Assistant majority leader||Majority floor leader||Assistant majority floor leader||Majority whip||Majority caucus chair||Minority leader||Assistant minority leader||Minority floor leader||Assistant minority floor leader||Minority whip||Minority caucus chair|
Which SLC states have passed legislation for the reuse or recycling of prescription drugs?
As the cost of prescription drugs climbs, more of the nation's officials and consumers are weighing how to salvage at least $1 billion worth of unused drugs that are being flushed down the toilet each year.
Though the Food and Drug Administration generally forbids the redistribution of prescription drugs once they are dispensed to consumers, states are free to set their own policies for drugs controlled by nursing homes, long-term-care centers and other pharmacies.
Thus, states have begun to pass legislation to create programs that curb the expensive waste of reusable resources. While the principal argument for these programs is the cost savings to both indigent patients to whom the drugs are often redistributed and the families of the patients who are able to return the medications, there also is a growing concern over the environmental hazards of disposing of prescription drugs in landfills or water systems.
Strom, Stephanie. "Old Pills Finding New Medicine Cabinets." The New York Times. May 18, 2005.
SLC research of Southern states' legislation.
What is the financial impact of chronic diseases on the U.S. economy?
A groundbreaking study ("An Unhealthy America: The Economic Impact of Chronic Disease") released by the Milken Institute in October 2006 detailed the financial impact of chronic disease on the U.S. economy - not only in treatment costs, but lost worker productivity - today and in the decades ahead. As indicated in the study, over 162 million cases of seven common chronic diseases - cancers, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, mental disorders, and pulmonary conditions - shortened lives, reduced quality of life, and created considerable burdens for caregivers.
The following map shows how states compare based on the prevalence of the seven common chronic diseases.
The following chart depicts the economic impact of these seven chronic diseases in the SLC states.
Economic Impact of Chronic Diseases in the South
|State||2003 (Annual Costs in Billions)|
|Treatment Expenditures||Lost Productivity|
What are the budgets and the staff sizes of the Southern states' ethics commissions?
Members / Commissioners
General Fund Appropriation (FY 2007)
|Alabama Ethics Commission|| |
|Arkansas Ethics Commission|| |
|Florida Commission on Ethics|| |
|Georgia State Ethics Commission|| |
|Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission|| |
|Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission|| |
|Louisiana Ethics Administration|| |
State Finances in 2008: Return to Red Ink Rising? (remarks)
It is a real honor to be here at the 2008 Legislative Symposium and my thanks to Susan Lockwood and Lisa Woodard at the School Superintendents of Alabama for inviting me and my colleague Jonathan R. Watts Hull to present at this session on state finances. We work for The Council of State Governments, an organization established in 1933 that works primarily with state legislatures in tracking trends, carrying out research and analysis and promoting state interests. While we work in The Council's Southern Office, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) in Atlanta, the Council is headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky with regional offices in New York, California, Illinois and Washington, DC. Several members of the Alabama Legislature (Speaker Hammett, Senator Ted Little, Chairman Knight, Chairman McDaniel) have been critical players in the progress of the SLC and we greatly appreciate their support and interest.
My presentation this evening will provide a broad overview of national and regional economic trends and how they impact state finances. Part I reviews national economic trends and demonstrate where states stand on the fiscal front. Part II highlights structural issues confronting state finances while Part III explores some of the major expenditure categories looming on the horizon for states. Part IV documents some of the strategies being deployed or being proposed by states to fund these sizable expenses and finally, Part V presents some of the bright sparks on the state economic front.