Nov/Dec 2009

State News: August 2009



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CSG Members Rate Top Issues for State-Federal Relations

In the first-ever Council of State Governments wireless interactive poll, audience members at CSG’s Annual Meeting in Omaha, Neb., in December gave a quick snapshot of important issues incoming President-elect Barack Obama’s administration can work with states on.
The most consensus came on the issue of health. An overwhelming majority said comprehensive health care reform is a key area where states and the federal government can work together in the next administration.
The group of 117 attendees representing all CSG regions as well as international members was surveyed recently during a session at CSG’s Annual Meeting using CSG’s new interactive polling system. The system—developed by Turning Technologies—allows CSG to poll members in an innovative and interactive way, utilizing new technology to gather vital and informative data from meeting participants.
Each participant receives an electronic response device that allows him or her to vote in real time to survey questions. Once all responses to a particular question have been received, those responses are analyzed and displayed immediately by the system, offering the audience instant feedback on how their peers voted.
The primary focus of the Omaha survey was to identify the issues that our members feel should be the top priority for the next president and Congress, according to Jennifer Burnett, a CSG policy analyst who helped administer the wireless poll. Members from each CSG region and some international attendees were asked to identify the top issue among five choices in six categories: transportation, public safety and justice, education, energy and environment, and health.
And the results are in:
  • When it comes to transportation issues, 47 percent of audience members want to see the Obama administration work with the states on infrastructure repair. Next on the list was working with states on the Highway Trust Fund—19 percent of audience members said that was the top issue.
  • For public safety and justice issues, 41 percent of audience members said a key area where the federal government can work with states is mental health and substance abuse treatment.
  • There are many areas in education where Obama’s administration can reach out to states. Here’s how the audience members at the Omaha meeting ranked each area:
    • 29 percent said school accountability was the top issue,
    • 23 percent said higher education funding was the top issue,
    • 21 percent said the No Child Left Behind Act was a key issue,
    • 14 percent said teacher incentive-based pay was a key area, and
    • 12 percent said the issue of school vouchers was a top concern.
  • Domestic energy production was cited as the top area where states and the Obama administration can work together—55 percent of the audience members said this was a key issue.
  • Comprehensive health care reform is a top concern where states can work with the federal government—59 percent of audience members cited it in the informal survey.




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