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.

Gov. Robert Bentley backs changes for state's Medicaid program

Written by Kim Chandler for AL.com on March 12, 2013Health Care
MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- Gov. Robert Bentley said he will support the recommendations of his Medicaid commission to overhaul the way the state delivers services in the healthcare program for the poor. “We now have a chance to turn Alabama Medicaid into a program that provides better care while making more efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” Bentley said.

Bentley said the proposal will end Alabama Medicaid Agency’s fee-for-service model in favor of a network of locally run managed care networks. State Health Officer Don Williamson called the plan “potentially the most important health transformation” the state has seen. “It’s built on the idea, instead of paying for visits and volume, we pay for outcome and quality. This is an ambitious undertaking,” Williamson said.
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Senate passes permitting bill

SB27 allows the state to take over dredge-and-fill permits from federal government

Written by Becky Bohrer for THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on March 12, 2013Energy & Environment

JUNEAU — The state could move toward taking responsibility for dredge-and-fill permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under a bill passed by the Alaska Senate on Monday. SB27, one of several bills related to permitting that have been proposed by Gov. Sean Parnell, passed 15-2. It now goes to the House.Parnell has billed SB27 as a way to limit “federal overreach” in Alaska.

The bill would allow the state to evaluate the costs and consequences of assuming primacy for the dredge-and-fill permitting program. It also would allow the departments of Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources to take “reasonable steps” to assume primacy. The benefits, according to a briefing paper from the departments, would include involvement of fewer agencies, state management of water and land-use priorities and funding stability. The paper says the Corps has seen a recent cut in staff and is facing additional cuts when it will need to prepare large environmental reviews and permit “many state projects” from large state capital budgets the last few years.

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Education bill clears Senate Education Committee

Written by Dave Boucher for The Charleston Daily Mail on March 12, 2013Education Reform
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and supporters of his education initiatives won the first round on Tuesday as the Senate Education Committee approved a moderately altered version of his massive bill. Union officials promised the war against the "teacher-bashing bill" was far from over.

Senators reviewed a revised bill Tuesday during the committee meeting, and a majority approved the legislation on a voice vote. The new measure is 189 pages -- 10 more than the original bill -- and includes several compromises, said Senate Education Chairman Bob Plymale, D-Wayne. Those changes came after discussions with unions and the governor's office, he said. "We met with the constituency groups to try to look at the issues they had," Plymale said. "Whether we agreed with all the issues or not, they had some very valid issues that I thought needed to be addressed and we probably addressed 17 or so of those."

Hallie Mason, Tomblin's policy director, said the bill still accomplishes the governor's goals. "It's a much stronger bill. As we move forward to work through the legislative process, we'll see where we go from here; there may be additional changes. But I've been pleased with the opportunity to work through the bill," she said.
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Panel introduces revised education tax credit bill

Written by Dave Boucher for The Charleston Daily Mail on March 12, 2013Education Reform

A measure giving tax credits to individuals or businesses who donate to private and religious schools has been introduced in a House committee. The House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted on a party-line, Republican-led vote Monday to introduce the legislation that offers tax breaks to people and companies that give scholarships to students attending private schools. The bill provides an estimated $10 million yearly in tax credits to donors.

Coeur d'Alene Republican Sen. Bob Nonini said his proposal gives more financial support to private school students and could save the state an estimated $5.8 million annually by lowering enrollment in the state's public schools.

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R.I. Senate leaders submit legislation to improve business climate

Written by Philip Marcelo for The Providence Journal on March 12, 2013Economic Prosperity
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed and other Senate leaders Tuesday discussed a package of recently introduced bills they say will help improve Rhode Island's business climate. The proposals -- a number of which have been proposed over the years -- cover a range of topics from economic development planning to workforce training, education, health, energy and tax policy.

They come in response to "Moving the Needle," a January report by the Senate and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, a business backed research group, that focused on how the state could raise its low rankings in national business surveys.
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Senate panel rejects Medicaid expansion in Florida

Written by Tia Mitchell for The Miami Herald on March 11, 2013Health Care

TALLAHASSEE -- A Florida Senate committee voted Monday against Medicaid expansion, joining the House in rejecting Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal for a three-year trial covered entirely by federal funding. Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said Florida should pursue a program that is stronger than Medicaid, which he described as flawed and costly.

“Why in the world would we take the federal government’s position when they promise that they’ll pay for Medicaid expansion when we know that they will be unable to keep that promise in the long run?” Brandes said. The conversation now turns to what Florida can do for roughly 1 million uninsured people who will still draw down billions of federal dollars.

Cost will be the focus, because even if the federal government pays for everything in the first three years, the state’s share will eventually rise to 10 percent. “I oppose the Washington plan, and I want a Florida plan,” said Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who chairs the committee, which talked about creating a program to use the federal money to purchase private insurance policies for those who qualify. The Senate select committee on the Affordable Care Act voted along party lines, 7-4. Democrats said they were willing to explore alternatives, but unsuccessfully urged colleagues to embrace expansion as a backup.

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Time to Make Union Representation Voluntary

Written by James Sherk for SGLF on March 11, 2013Labor Reform

Time to Make Union Representation Voluntary
James Sherk - The Heritage Foundation

Edward Savarese learned the hard way how inefficiently the government operates. The rookie 5th grade teacher in Clark County, Nevada excelled in the classroom. He won recognition as one of his district’s “New Teachers of the Year.” But a month later the School Board laid him off because he lacked seniority.

Unlike the private sector, many state and local governments base layoffs on seniority. Government raises typically have little to do with performance. Pension costs have driven many cities into bankruptcy. These policies hurt taxpayers, communities, and diligent workers. Poor union contracts drive much of this dysfunction.
 

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Walker signs mining bill into law

Legislation eases permit process, may create jobs

Published in The Post Crescent on March 11, 2013Energy & Environment
MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker signed Republicans’ polarizing mining bill into law Monday, completing a months-long, all-out campaign to jump-start a giant iron mine in far northwestern Wisconsin.

The legislation will dramatically reshape Wisconsin’s mining regulations to ease the permitting process for the open-pit mine Gogebic Taconite wants to dig just south of Lake Superior. Environmentalists maintain the measure guts the state’s environmental protections, but Republicans say it will help create thousands of jobs.

“This will do tremendous good for the people of Iron County,” Walker said after he signed a copy of the bill at Joy Global Inc., a Milwaukee facility that makes mining equipment. The county has the state’s second-worst unemployment rate in the state. Gogebic Taconite President Bill Williams didn’t immediately return a telephone message Monday.
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House panel OKs teacher contracts bill

Written by Associated Press for The Idaho State Journal on March 09, 2013Education Reform
A disputed measure pushed by the Idaho School Board Association that gives school districts more leverage in contract talks with teachers has passed a House panel. The bill advanced on a party-line, Republican-led vote by the House Education Committee Friday gives school boards power to end contract negotiations by June 10 if talks with their local teachers union stall.
Debate on the proposal became spirited, with school boards arguing they need deadlines to set their annual budgets. The Idaho Education Association teachers union says the measure inappropriately undermines teachers' collective bargaining abilities. The proposal would be limited to just a year, a concession aimed at giving stakeholders an opportunity to study its success. Eagle Republican Rep. Reed DeMordaunt said he's forming a legislative task force to carry out that evaluation.
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Bill would allow counties to take over school ownership

Written by T. Keung Hui for The News Observer on March 08, 2013Education Reform
The fight over who should build and own schools in Wake County went statewide Thursday with the introduction of a bill that would allow all 100 county governments to take control of school properties. The bill would allow individual county boards of commissioners to take away from school boards their traditional responsibility for owning, siting, acquiring, constructing, maintaining and renovating schools. In counties that follow the provisions of the bill, commissioners would consult with the county school board, but would not be required to agree to their requests.

“The school districts should be focused on education and not acquisition of real estate,” said state Sen. Neal Hunt, a Raleigh Republican and one of the bill’s primary sponsors. “In high-growth counties, they’re spending. a lot of time on construction. They need to focus on teaching the students.” While the bill is backed by the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, it’s opposed by the Wake County school board and the N.C. School Boards Association. The bill was introduced three days after Wake school board members urged members of the Wake legislative delegation not to support the legislation.
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Alabama Senate passes right-to-work legislation

Written by Sebastian Kitchen for The Montgomery Advertiser on March 07, 2013Labor Reform
Alabama is already considered a right to work state, but Republicans in the Legislature want to reinforce that by adding the language to the state Constitution. The Senate approved the legislation 21-10 along partisan lines with Republicans voting for it on Thursday. If also approved by the House of Representatives and voters, the Constitution would state that workers could not be forced to join labor unions or similar organizations as a condition of their employment and could not be forced to pay dues or fees to those organizations.

While most people realize Alabama is friendly to business, Sen. Gerald Dial said the amendment would send a message to businesses throughout the nation and throughout the world “that Alabama is serious about business.” The Alabama AFL-CIO opposes the proposal.
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Iowa Senate advances version of education reform with more money and more options for schools

Written by Jason Noble for The Des Moines Register on March 07, 2013Education Reform
The Iowa Senate advanced its version of Gov. Terry Branstad’s education overhaul package on Thursday, offering an expansive take on reform that runs counter to the Republican House’s minimalism. The Senate Democratic plan goes beyond the Branstad proposal by increasing the state funding for school districts to implement the reforms and adding additional options for districts to provide teacher leadership opportunities.

Unlike the House, it maintains the governor’s call for minimum starting teacher salaries of $35,000 and requires districts to adopt new “career pathways” for teachers to earn more money by mentoring their peers. When the House approved its version of the reform last month, it set minimum salaries at $32,000 and made the pathways optional. “The bottom line is that, unlike the House, we are staying with the governor’s original vision,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames. “We want every school district to begin to have activities and to use the (career pathways) model along these lines.” The Senate version, Senate Study Bill 1228, won approval in Quirmbach’s committee on Thursday afternoon ahead of a key legislative deadline. It’s now ready for debate on the Senate floor.
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House signs off on second charter schools bill

Written by Associated Press for The Idaho State Journal on March 07, 2013Education Reform
A measure giving organizations including Idaho public universities and non-profits power to open charter schools has passed the House. Lengthy debate from both sides of the aisle preceded Wednesday's 48-19 vote that moves the proposal to the Senate.

The bill governs how outside groups would be supervised if they move to open alternative schools. It also creates contractual benchmarks for charter schools, to demonstrate that they are flourishing and accountable to the state. Proponents argued opening charter schools offers more school choice to Idaho families.

Pingree Republican Rep. Julie VanOrden said charter schools can often serve struggling students better than their public school cousins. Moscow Democrat Rep. Shirley Ringo said the measure could result in waves of new schools _ and more hands in the state's public education funding pot.
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Kansas casts eye on teachers unions

Written by BRAD COOPER for The Kansas City Star on March 06, 2013Labor Reform
TOPEKA — New Jersey’s governor has branded them “political thugs.” A former federal education official has likened them to terrorists. Less vilified in Kansas than some other parts of the country, those teachers unions still find their clout under attack in the Legislature.

The battle over teachers unions has marched its way across the country. Ohio. Michigan. Wisconsin. Idaho. And now it’s in Kansas, greeted by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and his conservative allies in the Legislature. Lawmakers are moving to undercut the tenuous power of teachers unions by barring them from using voluntary paycheck deductions for politics. And they’re going after teachers’ ability to bargain collectively on key issues — hoping to give cash-strapped school districts new flexibility and leverage in contract talks.
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UPDATE Bills on voter ID, change in school elections advance

Written by John Lyon for Arkansas News Bureau on March 06, 2013Election Law
LITTLE ROCK — A bill to require Arkansas voters to show photo identification when they go to the polls advanced in the House on Wednesday. The House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 13-6 to endorse Senate Bill 2 by Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest. The vote was delayed a week following a request for a report on how much the measure would cost the state. The bill would require the secretary of state’s office to provide county clerks with equipment and training to issue free ID cards to voters who request them.

A Bureau of Legislative Research report submitted Wednesday said implementing the measure would cost $300,000 for hardware, supplies, installation and training. The annual cost after that was projected to be negligible and any cost would be absorbed by the secretary of state’s budget. The cost projection matched exactly the projection that King gave last week.
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State Senate passes education reform bills

Written by JONATHAN KAMINSKY for The Associated Press on March 06, 2013Education Reform
OLYMPIA — The state Senate on Wednesday approved a series of K-12 education reform bills designed to crack down on poor reading in young students, empower principals and spotlight schools that are not hitting targets. The measures passed by the chamber are in large part the fruit of a Republican takeover, together with two Democrats, of the state Senate this year. "We're challenging the status quo," said Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup. "We're looking to in some cases do what I might call disruptive change."

Democrats were supportive of some of the measures and aspects of others but said they wanted to give reforms enacted in recent years a chance to work before making more changes. They also argued that school funding should be addressed before additional reforms are passed. "We do need to identify low-performing schools and we do need to help them improve," said Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell. "But we need to make sure the funding is there." Among the bills passed is one that would require third-graders with inadequate reading skills to repeat a grade, attend summer school or otherwise improve their reading before enrolling in fourth grade. The measure would also authorize K-3 teacher training to help improve students' reading.
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Business leaders testify in support of plan to cut R.I. corporate tax

Written by Philip Marcelo for The Providence Journal on March 06, 2013Economic Prosperity
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Local chambers of commerce, prominent accountants and other business leaders testified in favor of Governor Chafee's budget plan to gradually reduce the state's corporate income tax from 9 to 7 percent, during a House Finance Committee hearing Wednesday afternoon. But the Economic Progress Institute, which advocates for policies impacting the poor and low income, said the proposal only benefits a small group of Rhode Island businesses.

Fewer than 10 percent of companies pay the corporate tax. Many are the state's largest employers. Most companies pay the state corporate minimum tax of $500. Chafee and other state leaders have said reducing the corporate tax -- the state's third largest source of tax revenue -- represents an important step in making Rhode Island more competitive and business-friendly.
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Christie touts business tax breaks

Written by LINDA MOSS for NorthJersey.com on March 06, 2013Economic Prosperity
EDISON — Governor Christie and New Jersey Democrats are united in support for an overhaul of the state’s business tax incentive programs. At a gathering of real estate executives, Christie Wednesday said he backed legislation sponsored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, and Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, D-Newark, that will revamp and simplify development incentives — the carrots used to retain and attract companies to the Garden State.

Both bills, which would essentially broaden the qualifications for companies to receive grants from programs such as the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) and Grow New Jersey, could come before Senate and Assembly committees next week. Lesniak is chairman of the Senate Economic Growth Committee. The legislation would simplify the state’s incentive programs, consolidating the five major ones to just two, and would give central and south Jersey a better shot at getting such monies, Coutinho said.

Christie, during a 40-minute address at the NAIOP New Jersey’s annual public policy meeting at the Edison Sheraton, outlined what he considered to be his administration’s successes, including the creation of 103,000 private-sector jobs since February 2010. He also lauded Karen Franzini, former head of the state Economic Development Authority, for her success reaching out to businesses.
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Arizona House approves new business tax credits for insurance companies

Written by Howard Fischer for Capitol Media Services on March 06, 2013Economic Prosperity
The House voted 44-15 to let insurance companies take up to $50 million in credits against taxes they owe the state in the next three years if they invest that much in new high-tech firms. HB 2646 would have the funding go to the state's quasi-public Commerce Authority which would identify companies headquartered in Arizona and provide some money for them to grow. That gets around constitutional prohibitions which bar the state from using its own funds to aid private companies.

House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, said the legislation would help fill a need of firms that need capital to grow. As crafted, if the investments are successful the first $50 million would repay the state treasury for lost revenues. The carrot for the insurance companies is that they would share in any profits above that amount. The measure now goes to the Senate. A vote on a separate and more expansive tax break for businesses which had been scheduled for Monday was postponed.
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Chafee takes budget proposals to voters

Written by Associated Press for The Providence Journal on March 05, 2013Economic Prosperity

Governor Chafee is taking his proposed corporate income tax cut straight to the voters with a series of town hall-style meetings. The independent governor plans to meet with residents and business owners Tuesday in Cumberland to discuss ways he wants to help the state's business community. He held a similar meeting in Johnston last week.

Chafee's $8.2 billion state budget proposal includes a call to reduce the state's corporate income tax from 9 to 7 percent over three years to give Rhode Island the lowest corporate income tax rate in New England. State lawmakers are now reviewing the budget proposal.

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Arizona assessing feds’ cuts; Brewer still confident about budget

Written by Mary Jo Pitzl for The Republic on March 05, 2013Economic Prosperity
The federal government's automatic spending cuts do more than cut programs and jobs in Arizona. The sequester is also giving state lawmakers second thoughts about how much new spending to include in the fiscal 2014 budget. That could dampen hopes for significant spending increases for Child Protective Services and education , key GOP lawmakers say.

But Gov. Jan Brewer’s office said the $8.9 billion budget she proposed in January is still viable, even as the state deals with the loss of up to $140 million a year in federal grants over the next decade and braces for the long-term effect of cuts to federal jobs, primarily in the defense industry. Democrats have a different take: They say the federal cuts and their ripple effect on the economy strengthen the case for expanding Medicaid, because expansion would draw $1.6 billion in federal funding to the state budget. The differing opinions reflect the divisions that have formed around the still-unresolved fiscal 2014 budget and highlight the uncertainty of what the federally mandated sequester cuts actually mean.
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EPA won't appeal Fairfax County creek ruling

Written by Taylor Holland for The Examiner on March 04, 2013Federal Overreach
The Environmental Protection Agency will not appeal a January court ruling that found the agency overstepped its authority in trying to regulate water flow in Accotink Creek in Virginia, the state announced Monday. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said the EPA will accept the ruling of Judge Liam O'Grady, who said the federal agency violated the Clean Water Act and couldn't order Fairfax County officials to spend money to cut the flow of the creek to protect the habitat of worms, snails and insects.

The ruling will save state taxpayers an estimated $300 million in costs, said Cuccinelli, who joined Fairfax County and Virginia Department of Transportation officials in filing the lawsuit last year. "This EPA mandate would have been expensive, cumbersome, and incredibly difficult to implement," Cuccinelli said. "And it was likely to do more harm than good, as its effectiveness was unproven and it would have diverted hundreds of millions of dollars Fairfax County was already targeting for more effective methods of sediment control."
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Legislature could tip hand on Medicaid expansion Monday

House and Senate committees studying the expansion of Medicaid in Florida could make recommendations before Tuesday’s start of the 2013 legislative session.

Written by Tia Mitchell for The Miami Herald on March 03, 2013Health Care
TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Rick Scott has said what he would do. So have the other three members of the Florida Cabinet. But it is the Legislature that will ultimately decide whether the state will expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. House and Senate committees studying the health care law could make their recommendations Monday.

Rep. Richard Corcoran, the Land O’Lakes Republican who is chairing the House committee, said earlier this week he remains "skeptical" about adding roughly 1 million Floridians to Medicaid. "There’s clearly cost issues, you’ve seen that through the testimony," he said. If the Democratic caucus holds strong in the House, they would still need 17 Republicans to support Medicaid expansion to get a bill passed. So far only one, Rep. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey, has pledged to cross party lines.

The House and Senate committees are meeting jointly Monday to hear from Amy Baker, the state’s chief economist, and a representative from the National Center for Policy Analysis, a "free-market" think-tank that has been critical of Medicaid expansion. Then, each panel will meet separately to discuss options and try to reach, if not a consensus, at least a conclusion that the majority supports. Indications are the Senate committee is leaning toward embracing Medicaid expansion in some fashion while the House committee appears opposed. Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said that if the House opposes an expansion, senators would insist on an alternative that expanded access to health insurance.
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Lawmakers see health insurance exchange in new light

Written by John Lyon for Arkansas News Bureau on March 03, 2013Health Care
LITTLE ROCK — The health insurance exchange that Arkansas is required to have in place by Jan. 1 is getting renewed attention in light of the Obama administration’s offer of an alternative to expanding the state Medicaid rolls. Gov. Mike Beebe said last week that the federal government is willing to allow Arkansas to use the exchange to provide private insurance to an estimated 250,000 of Arkansas’ working poor instead of putting them on Medicaid.

About 800,000 Arkansans currently lack health insurance. If the state were to opt for adding people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to the Medicaid rolls, as was originally proposed under the federal Affordable Care Act, state officials say between 150,000 and 250,000 Arkansans above the poverty line likely would buy private insurance through the exchange. If Arkansas chooses the new option — which has generally been better received in the Legislature than the first option — the number of people who would use the exchange to shop for insurance plans is estimated at between 400,000 and 500,000. That should make the exchange even more beneficial to consumers, according to state Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford.
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Brewer’s plan for education performance funding advancing

Written by Lauren Saria for Cronkite News on March 03, 2013Education Reform
Supporters of Gov. Jan Brewer’s performance-based education funding model for school districts and charter holders say concerns about the formula’s effects on schools in low-income areas don’t take into account the bigger picture. “Are they completely unfounded concerns? No. But are they blown way out of proportion? Yes,” Dale Frost, Brewer’s education policy adviser, said in an interview.

Critics including the Arizona Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, suggest that the model could hinder the improvement of low-performing schools. That’s because some of the funding would come from money reallocated from all districts and charter holders. “I think that any time you talk about a funding model that takes away resources from a school that’s already having problems you’re not going to have a solution that actually works,” said Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, the House minority leader. The governor’s proposal is contained in SB 1444, authored by Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, which was awaiting action by the Senate Rules Committee after winning endorsements from the Education and Appropriations committees.
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