The State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) firmly believes that real government reform, innovative policy changes, and the big ideas that will solve America's problems are going to be found in state capitols and not Washington, D.C. As has been the case for several years, there is grid-lock in Washington, and Federal government spending and regulation are out of control, while our country's problems continue to be unaddressed by Washington.
Contrast this with the states, who are getting things done -- some better than others. America is at its most prosperous and productive when there is limited government, less spending, less taxes, less dictation from Washington, and less encroachment into the states.
SGLF will promote innovative reforms advocated by our conservative elected leaders and defend them when the special interest proponents of the status quo attack these elected leaders. SGLF is dedicated to educating policymakers and the public about the benefits of smaller government, lower taxes, balanced budgets, and efficiency in governing.
SGLF is a 501 (c)(4) social welfare organization and is a strategic partner to the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) - home to the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, Republican Attorneys General Association, Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, and the Republican Secretaries of State Committee.
Haslam Drops Raises for Teachers, State Workers
Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to boost pay for teachers will be put on hold for at least a year, the governor announced Monday, as he works to close a $160 million gap in the state budget. Haslam said Monday that he will put off a proposal to give raises to teachers and other state workers, blaming poor sales and business tax collections. A one-year delay will save the state about $72 million in next year’s budget. The Republican governor said last fall that he wanted to give Tennessee teachers the biggest raises in the country over the next five years, and his initial $30 billion budget proposal released in February included a 2 percent across-the-board increase. The governor said he had not abandoned that goal. “My priorities haven’t changed at all.” He said. “If the funds were there, that was our full intent.”
Louisiana Lawmakers Give Preliminary Approval to $40M Higher Ed Fund
Written by The Associated Press for The Times-Picayune on March 31, 2014Education Reform
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to create a $40 million incentive fund to direct dollars to high-demand programs that will fill the petrochemical, engineering and manufacturing jobs his administration has drawn to Louisiana crossed its first legislative hurdle Monday. The bill (House Bill 1033) by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, would set up the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, called the WISE Fund. It would steer money to high-demand areas, like science, technology and research programs, at Louisiana’s four-year universities and community and technical colleges. Dollars for the fund would be allocated through the budget process, and Jindal proposes $40 million for the upcoming 2014-15 fiscal year.
Kentucky House and Senate Leaders Agree on State Budget
State Universities and teachers made some small gains, but Lexington lost the state funding it sought for the remake of Rupp Arena in a final budget agreement reached by legislative leaders Sunday morning. The budget accord came after 18 hours of negotiations that began at midday Saturday with a political shouting match and ended at 5:30 am Sunday with Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Republican Senate President Robert Stivers arm-in-arm. “We have reached a fiscally responsible budget, one that has a significant investment in education.” Stivers said. “It was feisty at times.” Said Stumbo, who started the shouting on Saturday. “But that’s just part of the political process.” The two leaders said they expected the agreement would be approved Monday by the House and Senate.
How Common Core Disintegrated in Indiana
Four years ago, the phrase “Common Core Standards” did not conjure fear
of federal overreach, too much data collection about young students or limits
on teacher autonomy. Back in August 2010, the-Gov. Mitch Daniels and Tony Bennett,
superintendent of public instruction, persuaded lawmakers, educators and others
that Indiana should become an early adopter of these new national standards as
a means to improve student performance, take advantage of federal incentives
and ultimately raise the competitiveness of Indiana’s workforce.
Few, if any, anticipated the issue would descend into a political war. Yet that’s just what happened after Daniels left
office and Bennett fell from power two years later. A tide of grass-roots
opponents – many fueled by President Barack Obama’s endorsement of Common Core
– turned key lawmakers from supporters into foes intent on dumping the
Fewer Physicians Accepting Medicaid Patients
Written by Jerry Mitchell for Clarion Ledger on March 29, 2014Health Care
In the land of the poorest poor, less than half of Mississippi’s primary care physicians are willing to see new Medicaid patients. This contrasts with the nation as a whole, where more than two-thirds of doctors open their doors to new Medicaid patients. “Everything else is moot if you can’t get to a primary care physician,” said Mississippi State University social science professor Ronald Cossman, who along with others conducted the study of health care access in the Magnolia State. Fewer physicians accepting Medicaid patients is a tragedy that should disturb all in public office, said Dr. Tim Alford, a family physician in Kosciusko. “More and more Mississippians are working Mississippians, and we depend on them. A lot of these people are being thrown under the bus.” There are more than 5,000 doctors in Mississippi. Of those, 1,475 are primary care physicians, according to the Robert Grantham Center. There are even fewer offices, 678, according to the MSU study.
State Budget Deal Reached; $300 Million for New York City Pre-K
Written by Thomas Kaplan and Javier Hernandez for The New York Times on March 29, 2014Education Reform
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders announced on Saturday and agreement on a state budget that would provide $300 million for prekindergarten in New York City, but also undercuts other educational polices of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has championed prekindergarten while trying to slow the spread of charter schools. At the same time, lawmakers rejected most of the governor’s proposals to strengthen New York’s campaign fund-raising laws. But surprisingly, Mr. Cuomo said that if concessions that he had received passed with the budget, he would disband a powerful commission he had assembled to investigate corruption in the state’s scandal-plagued government. The agreement also includes several tax changes, including a new property tax rebate for homeowners outside of New York City and a higher threshold for when estate taxes are owed. Lawmakers also moved to reduce the burden on students from tests aligned with the more rigorous set of curricular standards known as the Common Core.
South Dakota Sand Not Suitable for Oil Field Fracking in North Dakota
A state study that took more than a year to complete has concluded that sand from western South Dakota is not suitable for use in the oil and gas industry. South Dakota’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources studied whether sand found mainly in the Black Hills was suitable for hydraulic fracturing. The method known as fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals underground to break up shale rock and allow oil to flow. Fracking is used extensively in the booming western North Dakota oil fields, and officials wanted to know whether western South Dakota might benefit. The 16-month study found that the sand did not meet specifications recommended by the American Petroleum Institute.
Louisiana $50 Billion coastal Restoration Plan Would Inject Billions More Into Economy Every Year, Study Finds
Under Louisiana’s $50 billion, 50-year coastal restoration plan, the economy would see a boost from construction, cost savings from lower insurance and less hurricane damage, and the creation of a coastal science industry with the potential for being a global leader, according to a report released Thursday. Investing in implementing the plan – which calls for projects ranging from rebuilding barrier islands to raising buildings – would translate into billions of dollars more in economic benefits: $12.35 billion in annual spending, $757 million in annual state and local tax revenues and creation of 109,360 permanent jobs with $3.61 billion in annual earnings, according to the report by economist and former University of New Orleans chancellor Tim Ryan
Arkansas GOP asks to Intervene in Voter-ID Suit
Written by The Associated Press for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on March 27, 2014Election Law
The Arkansas Republican Party is asking to intervene in a lawsuit over how absentee ballots are handled under the state’s new voter ID law, arguing that the Democratic attorney general can’t properly represent GOP voters in the case. The GOP on Wednesday asked to help defend a state panel that is being sued by the Pulaski County Election Commission for voting to allow absentee voters additional time to present photo identification if they don’t include proof with their absentee ballots. The lawsuit claims the state Board of Election Commissioners overstepped its bounds by approving the rule.
Michigan petitions Congress for federal balanced budget amendment, constitutional convention
Written by Jonathan Oosting for Michigan Live on March 26, 2014Legal Reform
LANSING, MI -- Michigan has joined more than 20 other states with active
applications urging Congress to call a convention for the purposes of drafting
a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Michigan Senate on Wednesday signed off on the final draft of Joint
Resolution V, approving House modifications in a 25-12 party-line vote roughly
two months after Gov. Rick Snyder backed the push during his State of the State
Address. Article V of the U.S. Constitution requires Congress to convene a
convention of the states if 34 Legislatures petition it to do so. Any proposed
amendment would have to be ratified by 38 states. The process has never been completed, and it's not clear what a
convention would look like or who would set the rules. Still, supporters
say states must act and force the federal government to stop spending
more than it is taking in each year.
What Happens if the Keystone XL Pipeline Isn't Built?
After five years, it appears the Obama administration will soon issue a decision on whether to build the long-delayed and controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would cross an environmentally sensitive area of the Great Plains and move nearly a million barrels of oil a day to Gulf Coast refineries. Backers of the project say it would stimulate the U.S. economy and enhance energy security, stressing that a new pipeline is the cheapest, safest way to transport dirty tar-sands crude from Canada’s booming oil fields to U.S. refineries. Environmentalists, who earlier this month chained themselves to the White House fence in protest, counter that it would endanger the water supply in several states and exacerbate climate change. They want to stop or slow the exploitation of an energy source the Sierra Club calls “the most toxic fossil fuel on the planet.”
But what happens if, after all the shouting, the pipeline isn’t built? NBC News consulted with experts on both sides of the debate to provide some possible answers about the impact on the environment, the economy and the global oil supply. “We don’t think there’s any way that the oil will stay in the ground,” said Matt Letourneau, a spokesperson for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. “Certainly the market will find a way.”
Growing Chorus of State Lawmakers Call for Constitutional Convention to Force Fiscal Discipline in Washington
Written by Fred Lucas for The Blaze on March 20, 2014Legal Reform
Inaction in the face of a $17 trillion debt by the federal government has prompted lawmakers from 29 states to call for a constitutional convention to pass a balanced budget amendment. The list of lawmakers – all Republicans so far — includes state House speakers, Senate presidents and lieutenant governors, among others. Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution allows for a constitutional convention to be convened if two-thirds of the states call for one. If a convention approves an amendment, three-fourths of the states must vote to adopt it into the Constitution. Though this option has never been used for amending the Constitution, Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell expects enough states to sign on within the next two years to force a convention. Traveling the state, she said she finds that most citizens are frustrated and disillusioned with the federal government.
Group wants to limit debt constitutionally
Written by Niki Kelly and Brian Francisco for The Journal Gazette on March 16, 2014Legal Reform
The State Government Leadership Foundation, the national organization that coordinates policy ideas with state-level leaders, unveiled a national initiative last week in support of the state-led effort to pass a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution through a limited constitutional convention. “Families know that to balance household budgets, you don’t spend more than you have,” said Foundation Executive Director Matt Walter. “Make no mistake, our national debt is an immediate threat to our country and our children. “It’s time to take back control of our national bank account and Demand Balance Now! We must immediately halt the ballooning $17 trillion debt from Obama’s Washington that will cripple our economy for years to come.” He said states are leading on fiscal issues. Twenty-one states have passed legislation calling for a balanced-budget amendment that would be passed through a state-led constitutional convention. In addition, five more states have passed such legislation in one of their legislative chambers during their current legislative sessions.
Oklahoma Senate approves conditional tax cut
A proposed change would cut the state’s income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent when Oklahoma’s general revenue reaches a certain point.
The Oklahoma state Senate on Thursday approved a conditional state income tax cut. “I am pleased to present to you today legislation which honors the commitment that we made last year to reduce taxes for the hard-working taxpayers of Oklahoma,” said state Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, who presented Senate Bill 1246 on the Senate floor. The bill would cut Oklahoma’s top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent once certified projections for the state’s general revenue fund get back to where they were when the Legislature approved a tax cut last year. The earlier tax cut bill was struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court because it covered more than one topic.
The earliest the Senate’s new proposed tax cut could take place is the 2016 tax year. The bill contains a conditional provision for a subsequent cut in the top income tax rate to 4.85 percent as soon as the state’s revenue growth is enough to offset the amount that would otherwise be lost because of the additional tax cut. Mazzei told Senate members that about 70 percent of Oklahoma taxpayers would receive some reduction in their income taxes if the Senate bill becomes law.
Wyoming House moves EPA actions
Written by KYLE ROERINK for Casper Star-Tribune on February 26, 2014Federal Overreach
A bill and resolution giving the state leverage to battle the Environmental Protection Agency passed first readings on the Wyoming House floor Wednesday. Senate File 75
would expand the state’s ability to fight the EPA in court, appropriating a $2.2 million war chest for Attorney General Peter Michael to use to battle the federal agency. The state is involved in at least five lawsuits with the EPA and more are likely to come within in the next year.
S.D. House rejects Medicaid expansion
Written by David Montgomery for The Argus Leader on February 24, 2014Health Care
PIERRE — On party lines, South Dakota's House of Representatives rejected Medicaid expansion Monday afternoon. The vote came as a Democratic amendment to an alternative health care bill. The amendment would have expanded Medicaid to South Dakotans earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line, $15,521 for an individual or $31,721 for a family of four. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pay for 90 percent or more of the cost of the Medicaid expansion. That means South Dakota would pay just a few million dollars right away for some $200 million in federal aid, though South Dakota's share would rise above $30 million by 2020. Democrats said that tradeoff was something lawmakers couldn't refuse. They also cited a study saying that infusion of federal dollars would boost South Dakota's economy, and thus lead to millions of dollars in extra tax revenue.
Supreme Court Skeptical of EPA’s Greenhouse Limit Approach
A majority of the U.S. Supreme Court seemed skeptical Monday of the Obama administration’s approach to regulating greenhouse gas emissions, in a case that tests the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority and has divided the states. The government’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act — which the Supreme Court upheld in a 5-4 ruling in 2007 — wasn’t at issue in the arguments Monday. Rather, industry groups and more than a dozen states object to how the agency is carrying out those limits. At least 18 states, meanwhile, back the EPA’s approach. Specifically, those challenging the EPA say it is reading too broadly its authority to regulate greenhouse gases, carrying over limits from vehicle transmissions and applying them to stationary sources such as power plants. They also say the EPA is picking and choosing which parts of the law to enforce by establishing a permitting scheme for greenhouse gas emitters, because its threshold for when those regulations take effect is above the law’s limits.
In plot twist, California needs tax breaks to lure film crews
It’s a tale almost good enough for the big screen. Tired of seeing other states pony up big cash to attract television shows, movies and jobs, California is looking to boost its own tax breaks for entertainment projects. Democratic state Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra plans to introduce legislation in February to increase California’s $100 million-a-year budget for film and TV tax incentives and expand the type of productions able to claim tax credits to big-budget films and network shows, which are now excluded. It may seem ironic that the home of Hollywood needs to persuade studios to shoot in the state, but budget-tightening in the past decade has led to a system where nearly all location decisions are based on how much cash states dangle before production companies. And with nearly 40 states offering financial incentives, competition is fierce.
Economists: Local, state economies continue recovery, but budget woes could loom
The Boulder region and Colorado are doing "pretty darn well," from an economic standpoint, but some concern should be placed on the ongoing health of the state budget, two of Colorado's leading economists said Thursday. The year-over-year gains in Colorado's general fund mask a lurking problem: that a combination of factors could very well create a significant state funding gap in the future, said Richard Wobbekind, economist at the University of Colorado, and Phyllis Resnick, president of the Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University. Wobbekind and Resnick were joined by Josie Heath, president of the nonprofit Community Foundation Serving Boulder County, and William Farland, former chairman of nonprofit lab and science consortium CO-LABS, to share their insights about the local, state and national economy at the Boulder Economic Council's "2014 Economic Forecast: Boulder & Beyond." Resnick, speaking on a panel that preceded Wobbekind's keynote address, said Colorado's current revenue gains are "temporary phenomena." The state's budget in recent years has been propped up by one-time infusions such as federal stimulus dollars and housing credits that fueled growth in real estate and equity markets, she said.
Mo. lawmakers will try to limit medical lawsuits
Written by The Associated Press for The News Tribune on December 16, 2013Legal Reform
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) --
Missouri lawmakers plan to try again to limit how much money people can receive
in medical malpractice lawsuits. Missouri House Speaker Tim
Jones says the liability limits are a priority for the 2014 session. And Rep.
Eric Burlison, of Springfield, already is promoting a bill. Republican lawmakers want to
reinstate a $350,000 limit on noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering
that was struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court in July 2012. The court said the limit
violated a common-law right to seek damages for medical malpractice that
predated the adoption of a state constitution in 1820. The proposed legislation would
abolish that common-law right and instead make medical liability lawsuits
subject to state law. A similar bill stalled earlier
this year in the Senate.
Right to work survey: Local government leaders anticipate moderate impacts from law
Written by Melissa Anders for Michigan Live on December 16, 2013Labor Reform
LANSING — Michigan’s local
government officials expect the right-to-work law will have a fairly limited
effect on their municipality’s fiscal health, ability to attract and retain
workers and businesses, and their relationship with unions, according to a new
report. Just 26 percent of Michigan’s
local governments have unionized workers, and many of those are police and fire
department employees who are exempt from the law. Those with unionized workers
appeared to have a slightly more negative outlook on the law’s effect on labor
relations, while expectations for municipal finances and business and worker
attraction skewed more positive, according to a report released Tuesday by The
Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan.
For example, 20 percent expect
it to have a negative impact on their relationship with unions, while 9 percent
expect a positive impact. Most anticipate mixed or no results. Thirty-one
percent expect right to work to help business attraction and retention, while
just 7 percent think it will hurt. “Overall … this is just not a
game changer” for local governments, said Tom Ivacko, the center’s program
manager. The report is based on a spring
2013 survey of county, city, village and township officials from 1,350
jurisdictions. About 59 percent of the respondents were Republican, 23 percent
Democrat and 18 percent Independent.
Common Core: Gov. asserts state's rights
Written by Geoff Pender for The Clarion Ledger on December 16, 2013Education Reform
Gov. Phil Bryant on Monday, with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves at his side,
issued an executive order that says Mississippi, not the federal government,
has control over its public school standards and curricula. The order comes as Mississippi prepares to implement Common Core,
English and mathematics standards that have been adopted by more than 40
states. The Mississippi Department of Education adopted Common Core in 2010.
Bryant’s order wouldn’t stop Common Core implementation but appears to
be an effort to appease conservative groups and lawmakers concerned the program
would cede control of what’s taught in the classroom to the federal government.
Governors in other states have issued similar decrees, trying to allay fear of
and opposition to Common Core. “There is serious public concern about the reach of the federal
government into state public education policy,” Bryant said, “and this order
makes very clear that Mississippi and its local school districts and notthe federal
government are vested with the authority to define and implement public
education standards.” Bryant vowed “classrooms will not become delivery vehicles for
bureaucratic federal mandates.”
Bill would allow charter schools to expand free of districts, unions
Written by Erin Richards and Jason Stein for The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on December 16, 2013Education Reform
Wisconsin could see a dramatic rise in the number of charter schools
operating outside of districts and without teachers unions, under a new
Assembly bill brought by Republicans that would take independent charters
statewide. The proposed legislation would eliminate district-staffed charters and
empower a new slate of authorizers to approve independent charters: all
four-year and two-year University of Wisconsin System institutions, as well as
all the state's regional educational service agencies and technical college
district boards. The measure comes as Republican lawmakers intensify their efforts to
pass a charter-school bill in the remaining months of the session. Independent charters are controversial because they are public schools
run like private businesses; they don't employ unionized staff and don't have
to answer to school boards. They exist through a contract, or charter, with an
approved nondistrict entity.
Advocates see the schools as important to reform efforts because
they're not bogged down by school system bureaucracy and have more flexibility
in curriculum and staffing. Opponents criticize the schools for not having to follow the same rules
as traditional districts, and for being the darlings of business interests. The
schools also, in effect, reduce funding for traditional public schools the
charter pupil otherwise might have attended. Only the Milwaukee Common Council, the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside authorize
independent charters, and most of the schools are in the city of Milwaukee. The Assembly bill introduced Dec. 9 by a mostly suburban Milwaukee
group of Republicans — Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield, Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc,
Rob Hutton of Brookfield, Don Pridemore of Hartford and Joe Sanfelippo of West
Allis, along with Joan Ballweg of Markesan in central Wisconsin — aims to
Poll: Georgians skeptical of Obamacare
Written by ANDY MILLER for Athens Banner-Herald on December 15, 2013Health Care
Three in four Georgians say they’re
satisfied with the overall value of their health care. But Georgians show concerns
about the effects of the Affordable Care Act, said the poll of 400 residents
released by Healthcare Georgia Foundation. Nearly half of respondents – 47
percent – expect the ACA will result in their paying more for health care, with
just 11 percent saying they believe they will pay less. And they don’t see the law as
helping improve the quality of medical care. Slightly more than half think the
ACA won’t make a difference on quality, while 32 percent predict that it will
lower quality. “It is not surprising that
Georgians going forward believe or expect the worst regarding their personal
health care experience,” said Gary Nelson, president of Healthcare Georgia
Foundation. He noted that while most are
satisfied with their health care now, many believe the cost will rise under the
law. The survey results come at a
time when the ACA is under siege from critics in the wake of technical problems
with the federal health exchange website and the cancellation of many
individual insurance policies.
Schultz, many Iowans still solidly back voter ID laws
Written by Jason Noble for The Des Moines Register on December 15, 2013Election Law
Iowa Secretary of State Matt
Schultz remains bullish on voter ID laws, despite years of legislative defeats
and scant evidence of the problem they’re meant to prevent. Such laws, enacted in states
across the country in recent years, require voters to show a photo ID at the
polls and are aimed at stopping voter impersonation — when an imposter shows,
claiming to be someone else. But reported impersonation cases
are extremely rare in Iowa. Schultz’s partnership with the DCI to investigate
voter fraud has yielded no such incidents, although there was one apparent case
in Linn County last spring. Kristina Bentrim, a
schoolteacher from Cedar Rapids, went to vote in the March 5 casino referendum,
only to discover someone had already showed up, claimed to be her and cast a