Posted on June 26, 2015 in Government Operations
Information from selected states on the debate regarding the privatization of alcohol and beverage control (ABC) operations follows. One of the major areas of discussion when states consider privatizing their monopoly of the sale of alcohol is the potential public health and safety implications of the change. A number of studies have been conducted on this topic, including the following:
Virginia is one such state and when then Governor Bob McDonnell floated the proposal after his election in 2009, George Mason University carried out the following study. The study's conclusions indicate that "government-spirits monopolies do not generate the health benefits that their proponents trumpet. The plain fact seems to be that alcohol-related problems are unrelated to whether or not a state government prevents private, competitive businesses from selling spirits to the general public." Also, in Virginia, in January 2015, Senator Ryan McDougle sponsored SB 1032 in an effort, in his words, to "allow ABC to operate like a business as opposed to a government agency." Similarly, in the Virginia House, Delegate Dave Albo, proposed HB 1776 with the goal of replacing ABC with the authority to operate outside of government authority.
North Carolina is another Southern state that has grappled with the option of privatizing their ABC operations. The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law released a detailed report entitled North Carolina's ABC System Needs Modernization. In addition, North Carolina's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Commission released its 2014 annual report recently. Also, of relevance in this connection is an interview with the chair of the NC ABC Commission, recently appointed by Governor Pat McCrory.
Pennsylvania also considered privatizing their ABC operations and reviewed the following study. An argument often is made for state control as a means of achieving some desired social outcome, i.e., reducing alcohol consumption, underage drinking, and alcohol-related traffic deaths by controlling wholesale and retail alcohol markets. However, this comprehensive, 48-state study concluded that there was no link between market controls and social goals.
Many states follow the three-tiered system of alcohol distribution with the three tiers comprising producers, distributors, and retailers. In its simplest form, the three-tiered system requires that producers sell their products to only wholesale distributors who, in turn, can then sell to retailers, and only retailers may sell to consumers. Producers include brewers, wine makers, distillers and importers. Details of this three-tiered system from around the United States follow:
Posted on June 22, 2015 in Workforce
The National Federation of Independent Businesses is a collection of 350,000 small and independent business owners that came together to promote and protect the right to own, operate and expand their businesses. Here is a compendium on the workers' compensation laws by state. Worker's compensation insurance requirements for employers vary from state to state. Information on what these insurance requirements are for the specific state is critical for protecting businesses, particularly small-business owners. While some states never require worker's compensation insurance, some always require it, and for others, whether it is required depends on the number of employees at the business. This list of resources provides details on the status of all 50 states.
Pro Publica is a New York-based independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. They have compiled several projects related to worker's compensation trends in the states and information on this research is available here and here.
Business Insurance Magazine is an industry publication that presents news and information for executives concerned about risk and the impact on their business. In the March 2015 issue, the publication included an article entitled "States consider workers compensation reform" highlighting recent workers' compensation trends in the states, which can be found here.
The following information and links provide a sampling of initiatives launched by a number of states across the country. Illinois - Debate on Worker's Comp Reform Begins in Illinois
Posted on June 19, 2015 in Government Operations
States across the country continue to explore strategies to lower overall spending while providing citizens with critical services. In this connection, reforming their purchasing regulations and introducing procurement reforms remain a strong management feature in a number of states. In fact, given their reputation as the laboratories of democracy, many states have introduced innovative and creative ways with regard to their procurement processes by utilizing new tools and establishing best practices.
Four such states are Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota and Wisconsin, which, in recent years have enacted some significant and successful procurement reform efforts in a number of their state agencies that possibly could be adopted in other settings. Georgia and Virginia have enhanced their procurement systems to optimize savings and spending potential by adopting e-procurement tools and emulating successful procedures from the private sector. Similarly, Minnesota and Wisconsin have made groundbreaking strides in procurement reform by sharing resources, consolidating services and pursuing joint contracts.
"Nothing is simple when it comes to government contracting, especially for large technology projects. Yes, there are good reasons for having all those checks and balances in place. After all, taxpayers foot the bill for these projects, and there must be some assurance that the funds are being spent wisely, particularly given some of the high-profile failures of public-sector IT deployments. But the downside is these rules can be so restrictive that they choke off competition and innovation."1 More about some of the factors that stifle competition can be found here.
In Washington, a new state law went into effect on January 1, 2013, that consolidated procurement laws under the state's Department of Enterprise Services. The goal of the new law is to make the procurement process more transparent, competitive and efficient. Additional information about this law can be found here.
The National Institute of Governmental Purchasing's (NIGP) Institute for Public Procurement is an entity focused on heightening efficiencies in the procurement process. As NIGP notes, "public procurement gains increasing respect through each individual's ongoing commitment and adherence to best practices, ethical values and public service. To this dedicated community, NIGP provides ground-breaking professional development programs to government procurement professionals throughout the world." NIGP has been promoting global best practices in public procurement and additional information about these proposals can be found here.
The National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO), established in 1947, in Chicago, Illinois, is "a non-profit association dedicated to advancing public procurement through leadership, excellence, and integrity. It comprises the directors of the central purchasing offices in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the territories of the United States. NASPO is an organization that helps its members achieve success as public procurement leaders through promotion of best practices, education, professional development, research, and innovative procurement strategies."
The following are good sources highlighting innovation across a spectrum of service areas:
Posted on June 19, 2015 in Health and Human Services
The impact of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statements 74 and 75, designed to improve the accounting and financial reporting by state and local governments for Other Post-Employee Benefits (OPEB), primarily retiree health insurance, varies across the United States.
Along with challenges related to funding their pension plans, states also face critical challenges related to adequately funding their retiree health care costs. GASB Statements 74 and 75, designed to go into effect in the fiscal year beginning after June 15, 2016 (Statement 74) and in the fiscal year beginning after June 15, 2017 (Statement 75), pose additional complications for policymakers as they seek to devise mechanisms to adequately fund these expenditures.
In the last decade or so, the number of state governments offering retiree health care benefits has been declining. In recent years, states have deployed a number of different strategies to transfer a greater portion of the cost of providing retiree health care to employees and retirees compared to earlier periods.
In probing the states with the highest unfunded actuarial liability (or UAAL) in terms of their OPEB, of which retiree health care costs are the most significant component, the following top 10 loom large:
States and local governments also face the possibility of negative repercussions from the credit rating agencies if they choose to ignore these GASB Statements. Since the end of the Great Recession, the credit rating agencies have made it quite clear that they intend to take a more comprehensive view of a state's fiscal position when assigning a particular rating, i.e., look beyond whether the state's budget is balanced, sustainable and on a firm footing. The rating agencies have indicated that they will assess the state's unfunded liabilities in a number of categories such as pensions, retiree health care, unemployment insurance trust funds and other trust funds. Consequently, the failure of states to adequately devise a plan to account for their retiree health care responsibilities and their failure to adhere to GASB rulings could result in credit downgrades, a development that would raise borrowing costs for state and local governments.
Posted on June 1, 2015 in Education
Trends in Teacher Evaluation: How States are Measuring Teacher Performance, a report from the National School Boards Association's (NSBA) Center for Public Education, provides a thorough state-by-state analysis of state government approaches to teacher evaluation regulations. Out of the 15 SLC member states, nine (Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas) practice high to medium state involvement, meaning that the state mandates the requirements and components of the evaluation system (high) or provides model evaluation systems that districts can either adopt fully or adapt to some degree (medium). Of these nine SLC member states, six (Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee) recommend or require that quantifiable student achievement indicators comprise half of a teachers' evaluation.
NSBA identified two common approaches to quantitative teacher evaluations: the value-added model (VAM), which attempts to measure the impact a teacher has on students' academic growth in relation to other causal variables, and student growth percentiles (SGP), a measure of how much progress a student has made relative to other students, each with particular advantages and disadvantages. Of the six SLC member states with similar quantitative teacher evaluation methods, only three (Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee) practice the VAM method for linking teachers and student achievement.
(click on headers to sort by column)
|State||State's Level of Involvement in Evaluation Systems||Student Achievement as Measure of Teacher Effectiveness||Statistical Model for Evaluation|
|Alabama||Low||Not specified||Not specified/other|
|Arkansas||Medium||50 percent||Student Growth Percentiles|
|Florida||Low||50 percent||Value-Added Model|
|Georgia||Medium||50 percent||Student Growth Percentiles|
|Kentucky||Low||Not specified||Student Growth Percentiles|
|Louisiana||High||50 percent||Value-Added Model|
|Mississippi||High||50 percent||Student Growth Percentiles|
|Missouri||Low||Not specified||Not specified/other|
|North Carolina||High||Not specified||Value-Added Model|
|Oklahoma||High||50 percent||Value-Added Model|
|South Carolina||High||35-49 percent||Value-Added Model|
|Tennessee||High||50 percent||Value-Added Model|
|Texas||Medium||Not specified||Not specified/other|