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.

Governor of Tennessee Joins Peers Refusing Medicaid Plan

Written by ABBY GOODNOUGH for The New York Times on March 27, 2013Health Care
Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee said Wednesday that he would not expand Medicaid in his state as called for in the federal health care overhaul, joining 18 other Republican governors who have rejected expansion for now. Governor Haslam said he wanted instead to use federal Medicaid money to buy private insurance for as many as 175,000 low-income residents of his state. But he said that plan was being held up because the Obama administration had put too many conditions on the money.

With his health care law, President Obama wanted to make Medicaid, the federal-state health program for poor people, available to many more Americans, covering those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (currently up to $15,856 a year for an individual). But when the Supreme Court upheld the law last year, it ruled that states could opt out of the Medicaid expansion. For states that opt in, the federal government will pay the full cost of expansion from 2014 to 2016, with its share gradually decreasing to 90 percent in 2020. So far, about two dozen governors, most of them Democrats, have said they want to expand Medicaid.
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New Jersey Medicare Spending Outpaces Rest Of The Nation

Written by SONIA KARAS for NEW JERSEY NEWSROOM on March 27, 2013Health Care
Medicare spends more on New Jersey patients than those in any other state, averaging at a whopping $12,000 per person, according to a new study. The study, undertaken by the National Center for Policy Analysis, said researchers found that New Jersey came in at 15 percent above the national average and they cannot explain such a large difference.

Some of the extra spending was explained by higher salaries, age, income, and higher cost of health care, but that doesn't account for all of it, said Andrew J. Rettenmaier, executive associate director of the NCPA and an author of the study. There is some speculation about the spending gap between New Jersey and other states. One theory is the access to “robust health care infrastructure,” said Alan C. Monheit, associate director of the Center for Health Economics and Health Policy at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. This robust health care accounts for patients wanting to have more tests done, see more specialists, and have more high cost procedures.
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Montana House panel removes most of health coverage plan, then OKs

Written by Mike Dennison for The Missoulian on March 27, 2013Health Care
HELENA – As Republicans voted Wednesday to kill bills expanding Medicaid coverage for low-income Montanans, they also advanced what they said is a GOP health coverage plan – but not before stripping out most of its content. Rep. Cary Smith, R-Billings, told members of the House Human Services Committee that substantive details of House Bill 623 would be filled in later, probably in the Senate. “We need to pass this bill and get it over to the Senate,” he said, adding that Republicans still have broad disagreements on what should be in the bill.

The committee voted 10-6 on a party-line vote to send HB623 to the House floor, with Democrats opposed. HB623, in its original form, would hand out $4 million in grants the next two years to low-income households, so they could become eligible for federal subsidies to help them buy health insurance from private companies. It also would have created a 12-person “citizens council” appointed by Republican leaders of the Legislature to examine health care reforms, cost containment, reforms of Medicaid and other health care items over the next two years. But, at the request of Smith, the committee’s Republican majority removed those contents and left only a requirement that any Montanan attending an out-of-state medical school and who get tuition help from a state program must practice medicine in Montana for four years after graduating.
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Senate passes health bill

Measure would expand Medicaid coverage, set rules for insurance marketplace

Written by Scott Dance and Erin Cox for The Baltimore Sun on March 27, 2013Health Care
The Maryland Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill that would qualify more Marylanders for government health care and pay for a new health insurance marketplace, both part of advancing the rollout of federal health reform. The House of Delegates approved an identical bill Monday, clearing the way for the legislation to make its way to Gov. Martin O'Malley for his signature. Initiatives in the bill spell out changes in the way poor or uninsured residents and small businesses would access health care once the federal law becomes effective next year.
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Gov. Fallin: Unconventional oil and gas is an economic game changer

Gov. Mary Fallin gave the keynote presentation at the GE Oil and Gas Summit in Houston on Tuesday.

Written by Adam Wilmoth for The Oklahoman on March 27, 2013Energy & Environment
Harnessing the country's vast unconventional oil and natural gas resources is “an economic game changer for the entire nation,” Gov. Mary Fallin told participants at the GE Oil and Gas Summit on Tuesday. Fallin delivered the keynote address Tuesday at the two-day conference that focused on unconventional oil and natural gas resources and their potential to grow the industry. Held in The Woodlands, Texas, the event included about 100 industry leaders throughout the country.

“Unconventional resources have redefined what is possible in the United States and are transforming our economy,” Fallin said. It is important for elected officials and industry leaders to look at all forms of energy together as an interconnected system, Fallin said. “A lot of policymakers like to pretend that you can look at oil or gas or nuclear or wind power as unrelated resources. But that's not how energy works,” she said. “There are a lot more pieces to the puzzle. And you have to look at the whole puzzle for the bigger picture, instead of developing policy piece by piece.
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Iowa Senate approves education reform plan

The Republican-led House last month approved a different Iowa schools package.

Written by William Petroski for The Des Moines Register on March 27, 2013Education Reform
The Iowa Senate approved a statewide education reform plan Tuesday for Iowa’s public schools, although it’s not a rubber stamp of Gov. Terry Branstad’s academic improvement initiative. The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 26-23 along party lines to pass Senate File 423, which will most likely end up in a conference committee where lawmakers will try to negotiate a compromise. Sen. Kent Sorenson, R-Milo, was excused.

The centerpiece of the bill is a series of teacher leadership, mentorship and professional development programs. The plan offers three models for school districts to choose from, one of which is a modified version of the one Branstad favors. It would also allow school districts to develop a comparable model using state guidance. Minimum teacher salaries would be raised to $35,000, up from $28,000, as Branstad proposes. However, the Senate has scrapped the governor’s plan to establish a college- or career-ready seal that high school students could earn in addition to their diplomas. The key to the Senate’s education blueprint is that it offers options and more money than Branstad’s proposal, said Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, the Senate Education Committee chairman.
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Jindal administration begins renewed push for education overhaul, starting with teacher tenure

Written by Lauren McGaughy for The Times-Picayune on March 27, 2013Education Reform
As Gov. Bobby Jindal's massive education overhaul awaits judgment by the state's highest court, the governor and his allies in the Capitol are hoping to take out insurance against an unfavorable ruling by re-filing last year's legislation in smaller, more easily digestible pieces. Act 1, half of the governor's two-part education overhaul passed in 2012, was struck down by Baton Rouge Judge R. Michael Caldwell earlier this month for violating the state constitution's "single object" rule by having too many disparate parts.

Now, Jindal hopes breaking up Act 1 into multiple bills and re-passing them during the upcoming legislative session will serve as a backup plan in case the state Supreme Court upholds Caldwell's previous ruling. Senate Education Chairman Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, who spearheaded the overhaul effort last year, filed the first of these bills Wednesday. Senate Bill 89 is a carbon-copy of the teacher tenure portion of Act 1 passed last year. "This is really just an insurance policy in case the court doesn't rule in time," Appel said. If the Supreme Court fails to hand down a ruling on Act 1 before the mid-session, Appel said the Act 1 education overhaul provisions would be pushed -- this time in four separate bills. Three House members will file the other three Act 1 bills in the coming weeks.
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State senate committee scales back school voucher proposal

Bill no longer qualifies all low-income kindergartners for tuition aid from state

Written by Scott Elliott for The Indianapolis Star on March 27, 2013Education Reform

Indiana senators scaled back a plan to expand the state's private school voucher program Wednesday to ally fears about its costs. The revised House Bill 1003 no longer allows any incoming kindergartener who meets income limits to use state tax dollars to pay private school tuition. They still must attend a public school for at least two years. The amended bill passed the Senate Education Committee 8-4.

But the amended bill adds a new wrinkle by making eligible any low income student living within the attendance boundary of a school that received a F on its state report card. "Crafting legislation is sometimes the art of compromise," said Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville. Kenley had objected to the original bill over worries that it would result in large costs over time. Kenley said making all students start school at kindergarten to obtain a voucher for private school would cost an estimated $7.8 million the first year and likely each subsequent year. Over 12 years, the cost to the state could add up to $200 million a year, he said. Instead, Kenley proposed keeping the public school attendance requirement but made a new exception for poor kids who live in the attendance zone of a F school. The amended bill allows them to use vouchers for private school starting at kindergarten.

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With Vouchers, States Shift Aid for Schools to Families

Written by FERNANDA SANTOS and MOTOKO RICH for The New York Times on March 27, 2013Education Reform
PHOENIX — A growing number of lawmakers across the country are taking steps to redefine public education, shifting the debate from the classroom to the pocketbook. Instead of simply financing a traditional system of neighborhood schools, legislators and some governors are headed toward funneling public money directly to families, who would be free to choose the kind of schooling they believe is best for their children, be it public, charter, private, religious, online or at home. On Tuesday, after a legal fight, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the state’s voucher program as constitutional. This month, Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama signed tax-credit legislation so that families can take their children out of failing public schools and enroll them in private schools, or at least in better-performing public schools.

In Arizona, which already has a tax-credit scholarship program, the Legislature has broadened eligibility for education savings accounts. And in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie, in an effort to circumvent a Legislature that has repeatedly defeated voucher bills, has inserted $2 million into his budget so low-income children can obtain private school vouchers. Proponents say tax-credit and voucher programs offer families a way to escape failing public schools. But critics warn that by drawing money away from public schools, such programs weaken a system left vulnerable after years of crippling state budget cuts — while showing little evidence that students actually benefit.
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Walker, Barrett support Milwaukee start-up model

Published in LaCrosse Tribune on March 27, 2013Economic Prosperity
Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett are teaming up in another rare show of bipartisan support in hopes of stimulating business growth in Milwaukee. The political rivals _ Walker defeated Barrett in the governor's race in 2010 and again in a recall race last year _ are backing a new entrepreneurship model aimed at encouraging new ventures in the city.

The plan, which will be formally announced Thursday morning, involves a systematic method of encouraging entrepreneurship. Rather than fund individual unrelated startups, the goal would be to create an environment that fosters long-term growth. That would involve connecting planners, investors, academics and entrepreneurs, in part so the new businesses can support one other and so the community can contribute by providing the skilled employees necessary to work in those companies. "We have growing companies that need skilled workers, and Milwaukee residents who need jobs," Barrett said in a statement. "I am proud of this partnership and pleased that Milwaukee is leading the way."

The Walker-Barrett collaboration comes two weeks after they supported a construction project downtown that would free up land for development.Walker has been struggling to deliver on a campaign pledge to create a quarter-million new jobs before he launches his 2014 re-election bid.
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Missouri House approves tax breaks for businesses

Written by DAVID A. LIEB for The Associated Press on March 27, 2013Economic Prosperity
JEFFERSON CITY — A trio of measures that could reduce taxes for some businesses won approval Wednesday in the Missouri House, as lawmakers continued pushing to keep pace with recent tax breaks in Kansas and other neighboring states. One of the bills would cut income taxes for thousands of corporations in Missouri. The other two measures would target tax breaks at particular high-tech companies that policymakers hope to attract to Missouri. All told, the legislation could reduce Missouri revenues by tens of millions of dollars annually.

Throughout the session, lawmakers have cited recent income tax cuts and aggressive business incentives in Kansas as a reason for Missouri to reciprocate with its own tax breaks. Missouri's western rival again appeared to be a motivating factor in Wednesday's House votes. "I am tired of hearing about Kansas," said Rep. Vicki Englund, a Democrat from St. Louis County who supported the two new business incentive bills. The House passed legislation, 126-26, creating a tax credit for so-called "angel investors" in high-tech, startup businesses — something that the Angel Capital Association says already exists in Kansas and about half of all states. The Missouri bill would provide up to $6 million annually of such tax credits beginning in 2014. The House passed legislation, 128-25, authorizing state and local sales tax breaks for large "data centers" that house computer servers vital to many online businesses. Similar incentives already exist in about a dozen states, including Kansas and many of Missouri's other neighbors. The House plan would waive taxes on the purchase of computers, equipment, materials and utilities used by the data centers.
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Indiana Court Upholds Broadest School Voucher Program

Written by Charles Wilson and Tom LoBianco for The Associated Press on March 26, 2013Education Reform
(INDIANAPOLIS) — The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the law creating the nation’s broadest school voucher program, clearing the way for a possible expansion. In a 5-0 vote, the justices rejected claims that the law primarily benefited religious institutions that run private schools and accepted arguments that it gave families choice and allowed parents to determine where the money went.

The Indiana case has received national attention because the program has wide eligibility. Middle-class families are allowed to participate in Indiana, while in most states, such programs are limited to low-income families or those in failing schools. Jeff Reed, spokesman for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, said 530,000 Indiana students qualify for vouchers. The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is the nation’s largest in terms of actual enrollment. That program, enacted in 1990, had 24,027 participants this school year, Reed said. The Indiana program has 9,000 students actually enrolled.
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McDonnell signs bill requiring photo ID for voting

Written by OLYMPIA MEOLA for Richmond Times-Dispatch on March 26, 2013Election Law
Gov. Bob McDonnell has signed legislation requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls. He will also issue an executive order directing the state Board of Elections to implement a campaign to educate the public on the changes and to help them obtain a photo ID before the 2014 election. The legislation allows for a free photo ID for those who need a valid photo identification. In his executive order, McDonnell says Virginia has “long required” voters to bring valid ID to the polls in order to cast a vote and that federal law has required ID for certain first-time voters in federal elections for almost a decade.

“These efforts have made our electoral system less subject to fraud, but we must continue to look for ways to further address any vulnerabilities in our system,” the executive order states. The Senate bill “continues that mission, providing a process for individuals to obtain free photo identification cards and requiring that acceptable identification with a photo of the voter be provided on Election Day in order to vote.”
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Senate approves Medicaid expansion plan

Move sets up showdown with Branstad, whose alternative 'Healthy Iowa Plan' will likely pass House

Written by William Petroski for The Des Moines Register on March 25, 2013Health Care
The Iowa Senate approved legislation Monday night to add more than 100,000 low-income Iowans to the state-federal Medicaid health insurance program, setting up a showdown with Gov. Terry Branstad. Senate File 296 was approved 26-23 on a straight party line vote with Democrats in favor and Republicans against. Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, was excused. Senate President Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, the bill’s floor manager, said the plan will help Iowans who can’t afford to buy health insurance on their own. She added that Medicaid expansion will also help Iowans who already have health insurance but face hidden premium expenses of about $1,000 a year because hospitals currently must bear huge expenses for uncompensated medical bills.

“Iowans get the biggest bang for their tax dollar by expanding Medicaid,” Jochum said. Jochum was supported by Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, who complained an alternative proposal by Branstad, a Republican, will lead to many Iowans seeking costly health care in emergency rooms. He described Branstad’s proposal as inefficient and remarked, “The governor’s plan limits patient access.”
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UPDATE House GOP leader: Decide on health care expansion in special session

Written by John Lyon for Arkansas News on March 25, 2013Health Care
LITTLE ROCK — The House Republican Caucus leader said Monday he would prefer to postpone voting on whether to appropriate money for health care expansion until a special session later in the year. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, also said the Legislature should go ahead and vote on tax cuts before making a final decision on health care, saying the two are separate issues. Gov. Mike Beebe and House and Senate leaders said they disagreed with Westerman on both points.

Talking to reporters at the Capitol, Westerman said he does not believe the Obama administration will be able to answer every question and approve every waiver related to the so-called “private option” for expanding health care coverage before the end of the session. Legislators are scheduled to conclude regular business no later than April 19 and formally adjourn the session no later than May 17. “There’s no conceivable way to implement and get all the approvals and waivers that would be necessary for the private option. So my position, and I believe the position of the caucus, will be that we do not pass an appropriation for a program that hasn’t even been established yet and doesn’t have all the details worked out for it,” Westerman said.
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Tax-credit bill clears House

Written by John Lyon for Arkansas News on March 25, 2013Economic Prosperity
LITTLE ROCK — A bill that proposes to use tax credits to encourage investment in small businesses cleared the House on Monday. House Bill 1832 by Rep. Darrin Williams, D-Little Rock, and Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, titled the New Market Jobs Act, passed in an 85-0 vote and goes to the Senate. The bill would authorize the creation of community development entities, or CDEs, and allow them to sell insurance premium tax credits to insurance companies. The CDEs would use the proceeds from those sales to raise capital and invest in businesses located in low-income communities.

The money would have to be invested in the first year, but the tax credits would not go into effect until the third year. They would expire after seven years. For every dollar a CDE receives, it would have to invest $1.50. No one spoke against the bill on the House floor. When it was in committee, Grant Tennille, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, testified that there is some risk involved in the proposal because if a business fails to create promised jobs, the state has no way to recover its money. He said the AEDC was neutral on the bill. Williams told House members Monday that the bill has been amended to require an economic analysis before any investment is made to determine whether jobs would be created as a result of the investment. He said he believed the bill would be good for Arkansas.
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Echoes of TennCare feed Medicaid misgivings

Loss of federal funding hurt TN finances

Written by Erik Schelzig for The Associated Press on March 25, 2013Health Care
Proponents of expanding Medicaid in Tennessee say the financial support from Washington is a deal too good to pass up — federal funding for 100 percent of the expansion costs for three years and at least a 90 percent match after that. But Tennessee is approaching the carrot warily partly because of its experience as a pioneer in expanding Medicaid to cover the uninsured in the 1990s. Federal funding for that expansion was cut after the White House and governorship changed hands.

The ballooning expenses for TennCare, Tennessee’s expanded Medicaid program, strained state finances and set off incendiary fights over taxes that reshaped the state’s political landscape. That history is one reason Gov. Bill Haslam is among the last Republican governors to decide whether to expand Medicaid. He has said he will make his recommendation by the end of the month — though he acknowledges that it’s far from certain that lawmakers will approve his choice. “A lot of people say the governor should never propose something that he or she can’t pass, but I haven’t thought of that,” Haslam told reporters at his most recent public appearance last week. “We haven’t made the call, but if we decide to do it, obviously there’s a lot of selling to do.”
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Alabama Legislature: Medicaid overhaul on tap;state hopes to save money by delivering health care using for-profit companies

Written by Kathy Wingard for Associated Press on March 25, 2013Health Care
The Alabama Legislature is set to begin work on an overhaul bill that will change Medicaid to a managed care plan by 2017. The plan that will be introduced to House and Senate committees is the result of a 14-month effort by the 33-member Alabama Medicaid Advisory Commission formed by Gov. Robert Bentley in late 2012. The effort represents a major restructuring of how Medicaid works. Presently, Medicaid is administered by the state and is a not-for-profit entity. The managed care option offered by the commission would turn over delivery of health care to for-profit companies. Those companies would operate in up to eight regions of the state. Those regions would be determined by an actuary.

The Alabama Medicaid Agency now pays a provider a set amount for each service rendered, also called “fee-for-service.” The state is looking to provide a new structure that will allow for a predetermined amount of money per patient annually to be paid to a “regional care organization” that will then provide and pay for all Medicaid services. The regional care organization or an alternative provider would be the administrator in charge of delivering health care within a region. The state agency would pay the administering agency between $300 million and $500 million per year to care for all of the Medicaid patients’ needs in their region. If they can do that and have money left over, they would make a profit. The government hopes profits would provide incentive to keep the population healthier.
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Votes on school vouchers, TennCare draw near

Legislature heads for heated finish

Written by Chas Sisk for The Tennessean on March 25, 2013Education Reform
TennCare and school vouchers. For two of the biggest issues facing the Tennessee legislature, the next few days may be decisive. Republican leaders are pushing for a quick close to this year’s legislative session, setting up what could turn out to be a make-or-break week for some of the biggest issues facing state lawmakers. The timetable may strengthen the hands of conservatives on some issues while weakening them on others. Democrats complain that Republicans are working at “lightning speed” to pass radical legislation. Some Republicans also say they may be working too quickly.

The state Senate and House plan to close up shop for many of their legislative committees and subcommittees this week, the first step in wrapping up business for the year. Many have scheduled exhaustive final meetings, in which dozens of measures could be heard from early morning until late in the evening. The aim is to meet a target set by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell of sending lawmakers home as soon as mid-April, two weeks earlier than last year’s close and two months earlier than in 2009 and 2010. They say a shorter session will save money and force lawmakers to prioritize. “No matter what day we adjourn, there is always a critical week,” Harwell said. “We made a commitment to the people that we would work efficiently.”
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Medicaid expansion in trouble in Mich. Legislature

Written by David Eggert for The Associated Press on March 24, 2013Health Care
Lansing — Rep. Matt Lori found himself in an unusual position when shepherding through a $15.3 billion health budget that pays for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the needy. The Republican chairman of the House health budget subcommittee favored GOP Gov. Rick Snyder's proposal to make hundreds of thousands of more residents Medicaid-eligible under the federal health overhaul. But he left Medicaid expansion out of the spending bill last week because it lacks enough backing among Republicans. "We're trying to build enough support to get it done," said Lori, of Constantine. "People just need to be educated on the whole thing. It's very complicated."

Nearly seven weeks after calling for Medicaid expansion, Snyder and advocates representing businesses, health care interests and low-income residents have yet to persuade the GOP-controlled Legislature. They have two months until a self-imposed June 1 budget deadline. The recent legislative defeat of another component of the federal health law — partnering with the U.S. government on an insurance market — is not a good sign. Some Republicans say they are open to changing course on Medicaid, though.
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Editorial: State House should embrace Senate’s education-reform ideas

The Senate Majority Coalition has been aggressive on education reforms, building a strong link between state spending and student outcomes.

Published in The Seattle Times on March 24, 2013Education Reform
A SHAKE-UP of legislative leadership in the state Senate improved the quality of conversation around education and produced a package of substantive reforms. Some of the drama from years past of suppressing good ideas has been replaced with thoughtful and bipartisan cooperation. House Democratic leaders are considering Senate-passed reforms. Before the fragile cooperative spirit dissipates, lawmakers should remember the important linkages between reforming Washington’s K-12 system and investing more in it.

Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island and chairman of the Senate K-12 Education and Early Learning Committee, moved worthy bills through the Senate. Among them is a bill to provide academic support for students in kindergarten, first and second grades as a way to keep students on track for reading proficiently by third grade; one to automatically enroll high-school students in advanced classes, and another to end the harmful practice of indefinite suspensions. Plenty of Democratic senators voted for these measures. They should walk over to the House and urge their compatriots to pass sound policies. Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, former chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, offered a legislative plan to better track the effectiveness of educational efforts. It passed unanimously.
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Medicaid expansion in doubt in Michigan

GOP-led Legislature opposed, but may change course

Written by David Eggert for The Lansing State Journal on March 23, 2013Health Care
Rep. Matt Lori found himself in an unusual position when shepherding through a $15.3 billion health budget that pays for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the needy. The Republican chairman of the House health budget subcommittee favored GOP Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to make hundreds of thousands of more residents Medicaid-eligible under the federal health overhaul. But he left Medicaid expansion out of the spending bill last week because it lacks enough backing among Republicans.

“We’re trying to build enough support to get it done,” said Lori, of Constantine. “People just need to be educated on the whole thing. It’s very complicated.” The 2012 Supreme Court ruling that upheld most of the federal health law gives states the option to accept Medicaid expansion, refuse it or postpone a decision. Nearly seven weeks after calling for Medicaid expansion, Snyder and advocates representing businesses, health care interests and low-income residents have yet to persuade the GOP-controlled Legislature. They have two months until a self-imposed June 1 deadline. The recent legislative defeat of another component of the federal health law — partnering with the U.S. government on an insurance market — is not a good sign. Some Republicans say they are open to changing course on Medicaid, though.
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Lawmakers won't tackle Medicaid in 2013 session

Written by Associated Press for Idaho State Journal on March 23, 2013Health Care
Expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income Idaho residents could save state and local taxpayers tens of millions over the next decade, according to a state-financed report released this week, but lawmakers won't tackle the issue during the 2013 session due to end next week. House Speaker Scott Bedke said there isn't enough time left, even though he thinks the potential merits of expansion shouldn't be overlooked. It could mean some $478 million in county property tax reductions for Idaho residents through 2024, according to the report from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

"We are going to be done by Friday," said Bedke, R-Burley. "I don't think we can give that issue the proper vetting it deserves." Part of the holdup is, Republicans exhausted considerable political capital on another key provision of President Obama's overhaul when they passed a state-based health insurance exchange, after a combined 16 hours of debate in the House and Senate in which backers of the bill were accused by some foes of acquiescing to federal intrusion into Idaho. Consequently, GOP appetite to tackle Medicaid expansion, a provision of the 2010 federal law that the U.S. Supreme Court left to states to decide, is limited especially given the bruising debate sure to accompany it.
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Teachers will soon get graded

It's just one of many changes ahead as wyoming works on education accountability.

Written by Aerin Curtis for The Wyoming Tribune Eagle on March 23, 2013Education Reform
CHEYENNE -- Students soon won't be the only ones getting report cards in Wyoming. Rather than getting letter grades, Wyoming schools and school districts, teachers and administrators will earn a score in terms of expectations and performance n exceeds expectation, meets, partially meets or doesn’t meet expectation. The grades are part of the ongoing work of establishing the Wyoming Accountability in Education system. Already a work-in-progress, the last pieces of the system are set to be running by 2017. “We fund schools better than probably anybody in the country, and (we) don’t think we’re getting the results,” said Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Education Interim Committee and a member of the Select Committee on Education Accountability. “We’d like to have the best (kindergarten-12th grade) system in the country.”

Most of the work is being done by the Wyoming Department of Education, its appointed director and the Wyoming State Board of Education, with input from school districts, local boards of trustees, consultants and advisory committees. Two bills that recently passed in the Wyoming Legislature continue the process of establishing the accountability system in the state’s public schools. “Ultimately what we’re going to try to achieve through the process is to be able to tie achievement to teacher, administrator and superintendent performance,” Coe said. “We do that on an individual basis with the students.” The system is designed to be implemented in two phases. The first examines student work and district achievement in four separate areas: achievement, growth, equity and readiness, interim director of the Wyoming Department of Education Jim Rose said.
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Governor acts on K-12 measures, will amend school takeover bill

Written by ANDREW CAIN for The Richmond Times-Dispatch on March 23, 2013Education Reform
Gov. Bob McDonnell will tour Petersburg’s Peabody Middle School on Monday, the same day he plans to announce his amendments to a bill that would allow a new statewide school division to take over struggling schools. McDonnell on Friday announced his actions on a series of bills in his K-12 agenda that passed the legislature. For example, he signed legislation that extends the probation period for new teachers to up to five years, states that a teacher can be fired after at least one unsatisfactory evaluation, and changes the provision for a three-person grievance hearing panel to a single hearing officer.

In January, the state teachers association and McDonnell’s administration struck a compromise on the legislation. “This major reform ensures that underperforming teachers are not tolerated, and that a longer probation period is put in place,” the governor’s office said Friday. McDonnell proposed a 2 percent pay raise for instructional staff but made it contingent on passage of the contract and evaluation measure. McDonnell also has signed a measure to enable the Department of Education to assign schools grades of A to F. The McDonnell administration said the report cards “will make school performance clear and easily communicated to the public.”
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