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.

Common Core School Standards Face a New Wave of Opposition

Written by Motoko Rich for The New York Times on May 29, 2014Education Reform
Opposition to the Common Core, a set of reading and math standards for elementary, middle and high school students that were originally adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia, has gathered momentum among state lawmakers in recent weeks. The governors of Oklahoma and South Carolina are considering signing bills to repeal the standards and replace them with locally written versions. In Missouri, lawmakers passed a bill that would require a committee of state educators to come up with new standards within the next two years.

Although the Common Core, developed by a coalition convened by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, was initially backed by a group of Republican governors, the Obama administration also lent its support. For the past year, conservative Republicans, seizing on the administration’s backing, have argued that the standards amount to a federal takeover of public schools. Jason Nelson, a Republican state representative from northwest Oklahoma who sponsored the bill to withdraw the state from the Common Core, said he and his colleagues wanted to “break any kind of nexus where any private organization or the federal government would exert control over our standards.” The bill passed the Oklahoma House overwhelmingly last week, and this week it passed the Senate, 31 to 10. The pushback from the right has been fueled by an unlikely alliance with critics on the left, who are upset by new standardized tests and the high stakes associated with them, including teacher performance reviews.
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Michigan leads way in demanding balanced budget

Written by Matt Walter for The Detroit News on April 24, 2014Legal Reform
It is spring in Washington. President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats have said no to a budget that gets to balance despite its quick passage in the House. Again. So, where Washington continues to fail the American people, state leaders have taken the mantle of leadership through reform initiatives that will force Washington to act sanely. Congressman Gary Peters, too, voted against the balanced budget. His actions appear to be out of step with his constituents, the families and small businesses who keep their check books balanced. Peters’ former colleagues in the Michigan House have taken significant steps to remedy the problem of federal budgets that never balance.
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Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller: Working To Silence His Critics (For You!)

Written by Jonathan Keim for National Review Online on April 15, 2014Election Law
The Left’s feverish national battle to silence its critics is escalating in Nevada. Attorney General candidate Ross Miller recently solemnly vowed to attack a conservative advocacy group, the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF), after it dared to call him out for living the high life...Miller appears to have already started attacking SGLF. A left-wing organization run by Miller’s former deputy, Matt Griffin, filed an election complaint against SGLF about ten days after Miller made his public threats. But Miller is the chief elections official in Nevada. Aside from the clear conflict of interest and the fact that Miller has already pre-judged the issue, Miller’s threats make this situation particularly dangerous to free speech. I’m getting shivers just thinking about the chilling effects.
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Old friend helping in SOS’ war on conservatives

Written by M.D. Kittle for on April 14, 2014Election Law
MADISON, Wis. — In the national battle by liberal government officials working to silence conservative activists, one Nevada group is fighting back. The State Government Leadership Foundation, a conservative nonprofit under attack by Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, a Democrat, recently filed an open records request with the agency hoping to track the communications between Miller and his political henchman and former underling, Matt Griffin. Miller, Nevada’s chief elections official, last month threatened SGLF, demanding it cough up its donors list. “I will continue to review every legal option to compel this front group to reveal its special-interest donors,” Miller said in March. Miller is upset about the foundation’s ad and $500,000 web campaign that, in part, exposes the secretary of state for taking $60,000 in gifts from a variety of donors, many of them corporate contributors.
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Sound familiar? Top Nevada Dem official vows to pursue conservative group

Written by M.D. Kittle for on April 11, 2014Election Law
Nevada’s Democrat secretary of state says he’ll do all in his power to crush a conservative organization that ran ads against him in his campaign to become the state’s attorney general. Sound familiar? It’s part of a “disturbing trend,” said Matthew Walter, executive director of the State Government Leadership Foundation, the conservative nonprofit behind the ads that earned the ire of Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller. “This is all about freedom of speech,” Walter said. “Whether it’s President Obama’s Internal Revenue Service and their unbalanced scrutiny into conservative organizations, or whether it’s Ross Miller with his threats and blustering in Nevada, what we see far too often are liberal groups defending the right to free speech until they don’t personally agree with the content. At that point, they throw up every roadblock they can to hinder the individual’s right to free speech.”
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Alabama Voices » Kay Ivey: It's time to demand a balanced budget

Written by Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey for The Montgomery Advertiser on April 03, 2014Legal Reform
The Alabama Legislature is completing another legislative session, having developed balanced budgets. Difficult decisions had to be made to reach that point, but just like your family’s finances, spending can’t exceed revenue — a common-sense practice seemingly lost on most in Washington, D.C. In Alabama, leaders are bound by the state Constitution to balance the state’s budget every year. It’s time the federal government followed our lead. That is why I recently pledged my support to Demand Balance Now, a national effort to amplify calls for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution through a state-led, limited Article V convention. This historic initiative is being led by statehouses across the nation and is spearheaded nationally by the State Government Leadership Foundation. Now more than ever, states should hold the federal government accountable for out-of-control national spending. I hope you’ll join the call to end runaway federal spending and balance the budget by signing the pledge to Demand Balance Now:
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EDITORIAL: Miller, Democrats overreach to expose donors

Published in LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL on April 02, 2014Election Law
Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller is no fan of anonymous political speech, never mind the country’s long history of such protected expression. But the collective push from Democrats to root out conservative donors reveals the backers of such speech have good reason to keep their names secret. Mr. Miller lauded last week’s agreement on the largest-ever fine imposed for a Nevada campaign finance violation, a $40,000 settlement with the Alliance for America’s Future over 2010 advertisements that indirectly supported the gubernatorial candidacy of Brian Sandoval. The secretary of state insists that, under state law, all third-party groups that engage in protected political expression in Nevada must first register with his office and submit reports detailing their contributions — including donor information — and expenses. However, groups are exempt from such disclosure requirements if they avoid what the U.S. Supreme Court has defined as “express advocacy,” meaning a clear call to vote for or against someone. The Alliance for America’s future very well might have crossed that line in supporting now-Gov. Sandoval, as evidenced by its decision to drop an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, pay the fine and disclose its donor: the Republican Governor’s Public Policy Committee.
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Haslam Drops Raises for Teachers, State Workers

Written by Chas Sisk for The Tennessean on April 01, 2014Education Reform
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.” 
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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.
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Kentucky House and Senate Leaders Agree on State Budget

Written by Tom Loftus for The Courier-Journal on March 30, 2014Economic Prosperity
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. 
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How Common Core Disintegrated in Indiana

Written by Eric Weddle for IndyStar on March 30, 2014Education Reform
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 guidelines.
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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. 
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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.
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South Dakota Sand Not Suitable for Oil Field Fracking in North Dakota

Written by Associated Press for The BIsmarck Tribune on March 28, 2014Energy & Environment
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.
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Louisiana $50 Billion coastal Restoration Plan Would Inject Billions More Into Economy Every Year, Study Finds

Written by Katherine Sayre for The Times-Picayune on March 27, 2014Economic Prosperity
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
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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.
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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.
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What Happens if the Keystone XL Pipeline Isn't Built?

Written by Lisa Riordan Seville for NBC News on March 24, 2014Energy & Environment
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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.

Written by Randy Ellis for News OK on February 27, 2014Economic Prosperity
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.

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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.
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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.
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Supreme Court Skeptical of EPA’s Greenhouse Limit Approach

Written by Jake Grovum for Stateline on February 24, 2014Federal Overreach
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.
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In plot twist, California needs tax breaks to lure film crews

Written by Lauren French for Politico on February 02, 2014Economic Prosperity
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.
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