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.

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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Senate education panel takes up voucher issue

Written by JOSHUA BERLINGER for THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on March 03, 2013Education Reform
JUNEAU — A Senate panel began hearings Friday on the subject of school vouchers, less than two weeks after the committee’s chair adamantly declared on the Senate floor that the issue needs to be thoroughly vetted. Two resolutions in the Legislature — SJR9, by Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, and its House counterpart, HJR1, by Rep. Wes Keller, R-Wasilla — propose to amend Alaska’s Constitution to allow the state to appropriate public funds to private or religious educational institutions. Critics argue that it could siphon off funds from a public school system that is already seeking additional money.

Senate Education Committee chairman Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, said his panel would take a look at the issue, even though Senate President Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, pulled SJR9 from a Senate Education Committee referral while Stevens was out of town and without advance notice. Senate majority leaders have said SJR9 involves a legal issue and that the measure could be heard by the committee if “significant education issues arise” during the legislative process. Stevens said he has not encountered a “more momentous education issue” during his 13 years in the Legislature and told his fellow lawmakers that he will evaluate vouchers whether or not SJR9 is placed before his committee.
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Corporate tax bill passes state Senate

Bill earns near unanimous support, slew of cosponsors

Written by Russell Stigall for Juneau Empire on March 02, 2013Economic Prosperity
Senate Bill 7 Corporate Income Tax passed the Senate today with a near unanimous vote. It now heads to the House where its companion awaits hearing in House Finance Committee. SB7 and House Bill 68 restructure Alaska's corporate income tax code for certain corporations. The only way for small closely-held businesses to incorporate before 1980 was through a type C corporation. The income tax structure for C corporations has not changed in decades.

Bill sponsors Sens. Cathy Giessel R-Turnagain Arm and Dennis Egan D-Juneau and Reps. Shelley Hughes R-Wasilla and Scott Kawasaki D-Fairbanks say it is time to update C corp income tax brackets to bring them in line with 30 years of inflation. The top tax bracket is raised from $90,000 to $222,000. The bottom tax bracket is raised from $10,000 to $25,000. An amendment to SB7 by Sen. Bill Wielechowski D-Anchorage dropped the tax liability for C corps netting $25,000 or less to zero. Sen. Giessel said several of her constituents who are business owners approached her about the "burden" of Alaska's tax structure. “The impact of the bill is that your local restaurants, construction companies, tourism businesses and other retailers will be able to keep more of their profits so that they can grow their enterprises,” Giessel said. Proponents give the example of a C corp with net income of $550,000 would pay nearly $6,000 less per year than its current $47,000 tax liability. A C corp that nets $45,000 would see its $1,250 tax liability cut in half.
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Senate votes 34-0 for open teacher contract talks

Written by Associated Press for The Idaho State Journal on March 01, 2013Labor Reform

A bill mandating open teacher contract talks cleared the Senate unanimously, reflecting a rare point of agreement between the education union and school boards on a remnant of the failed "Students Come First" overhaul. Friday's vote was 34-0, sending the proposal to make collective bargaining talks public and require school board officials to post notices of upcoming negotiation sessions to the House.

The bill would also make all meeting minutes and contract offers subject to state open records laws. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's Students Come First law died on Nov. 6 at the polls. But foes and supporters alike of that overhaul said this measure, included in that package, should be preserved. The Idaho Education Association union supported the legislation, as did the Idaho School Boards Association.

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House committee supports bill calling for innovative charter schools

Written by Mary Mellor for Deseret News on March 01, 2013Education Reform
SALT LAKE CITY — The House Education Committee showed support for new, innovative charter schools on Friday, passing HB344. The bill requires the State Charter School Board to request applications to establish innovative charter schools, such as a military charter school, a charter school for students at risk of academic failure, and a charter school focused on career and technical education.

Bill sponsor Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, said the goal is to get charter school applicants to think outside the box and that the list of new charter schools is not inclusive. “We've gotten pretty good at cookie-cutter charter schools that are just like public schools,” Lifferth said. “Charter schools should be laboratories of innovation.”
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Gov. Robert Bentley says bill will help schools, political fallout will pass

Written by Mike Cason for on March 01, 2013Education Reform
MONTGOMERY, Alabama --- Gov. Robert Bentley said today that accusations about a secret plot on a bill to offer tax credits for children in failing schools will blow over and the substance of the plan is what matters. Democrats in the Legislature and the head of the Alabama Education Association say Republicans negotiated in bad faith and ignored the input of education professionals who had been involved for weeks on a bill about school systems seeking waivers from some state policies.

Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, former longtime chairman of the Senate’s education budget committee, said the governor betrayed state School Superintendent Tommy Bice by signing off on a substitute bill without consulting Bice or the state Board of Education. Bice had been a key advocate for the flexibility bill but withdrew his support for the bill after the tax credit plan was added. “The governor didn’t talk to the state superintendent of education,” Sanders said today. “He didn’t talk to the state board and he’s the chairman of the board. That’s a betrayal.”

Bentley said today he did not consider that a betrayal. “I think we have to do something about failing schools in this state,” Bentley said. “I put the welfare of the education of the children of this state above even a relationship with superintendents or anybody else. I never felt like it was a betrayal of any confidence or any relationship or anything else with the superintendent.”
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Corbett, Sebelius to discuss Medicaid expansion

Written by Karen Langley for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on February 28, 2013Health Care
HARRISBURG -- Gov. Tom Corbett says he and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have agreed to schedule a meeting to discuss questions about expanding Medicaid eligibility in Pennsylvania. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law allows states to decide if they will relax the income eligibility for Medicaid, the state-operated health care program for the poor. Mr. Corbett so far has declined to recommend expanding the program, saying it would be too costly.

If Pennsylvania chooses to expand Medicaid under the law, an additional 643,000 adults would qualify for the benefit, according to the Department of Public Welfare. In recent days, the Republican governors of New Jersey and Florida have announced they would accept federal money to expand the program. Under the health care law, the federal government would pay the full cost of expansion for three years and then 90 percent of the cost.
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SD lawmakers propose economic incentive plan

Written by Associated Press for The Rapid City Journal on February 28, 2013Economic Prosperity
Legislative leaders on Thursday unveiled a wide-ranging plan they say would not only help lure large industrial projects to the state, but also would help bring smaller projects to South Dakota. The measure would focus on providing tax breaks for large projects that the state otherwise might not attract. It also would provide money for training workers and helping communities build the housing, roads and water systems needed to encourage development, the lawmakers said.

Senate Republican Leader Russell Olson of Wentworth said Republicans and Democrats have worked for the past two months to find a compromise plan, a contrast to the gridlock in Washington where the two parties are unable to reach agreement on budget cuts and other issues. "We decided at the very beginning of the legislative session that there were certain things we wanted to work on jointly and come together to do what's best for South Dakota and take the politics out of the conversation," Olson said. "This is really the way government ought to work," House Democratic Leader Bernie Hunhoff said. House Republican Leader David Lust of Rapid City said South Dakota needs to come up with an incentive package to compete with nearby states that offer substantial deals to attract new industrial projects and help existing businesses expand.
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ND House votes to expand Medicaid

Published in The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on February 27, 2013Health Care
BISMARCK – More than 20,000 more North Dakotans may have health insurance after members of the House voted to expand Medicaid coverage to align with the federal requirement under the Affordable Care Act. The House approved and sent the expansion to the Senate in House Bill 1362 by a 57-36 vote. The bill came to the floor with a do-pass recommendation by the House Human Services Committee, which added an amendment to implement the program Jan. 1, 2014, and sunset, or end, Aug. 1, 2017.
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State, federal officials to weigh health exchange at hearing

Written by GARRY RAYNO for The New Hampshire Union Leader on February 27, 2013Health Care
CONCORD - State and federal health care and insurance officials will hear suggestions next week on what New Hampshire health care providers and users want from a much-discussed health insurance exchange. Required under the Affordable Care Act, exchanges are to function as an electronic marketplace for individuals and small businesses to review health insurance options from carriers.

Last year, lawmakers passed House Bill 1297, which prohibits the state from establishing its own exchange, but allows the state Insurance Department to continue regulating health insurers and the Health and Human Services Department to set eligibility requirements for the Medicaid program, which would expand under the Affordable Care Act. Earlier this month, Gov. Maggie Hassan sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking to form a partnership to run the state's exchange. Under the arrangement, the state would have oversight of the companies in the exchange and what policies they offer and over the federal "navigators" to help individuals and small businesses wade through the health insurance options to find the best fit.
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Iowa Senate advances Medicaid expansion, but no deal near with Branstad

Written by William Petroski for Des Moines Register on February 27, 2013Health Care
A sharply divided Iowa Senate committee advanced a bill Wednesday to add thousands of low-income Iowans to the state-federal Medicaid health insurance program, but lawmakers appeared far from reaching a compromise with Gov. Terry Branstad on the issue. Senate Democrats described the Medicaid expansion plan as the right thing to do, and an effective method of providing better health care to needy Iowans. Republicans expressed concerns about cost, and suggested consideration of an alternative health care proposal being developed by Branstad.

Senate File 71 was approved on an 8-5 vote in the Senate Human Resources Committee with all Democrats in support and all Republicans against. The measure now moves to the Senate floor, where approval appears likely, although Republican-led House has no plans to consider it. The Iowa Department of Human Services estimates between 110,000 and 180,000 Iowans would be added to the expanded Medicaid program under the Senate Democrats’ plan, which would operate under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
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Indiana senators approve Medicaid expansion

Federal government would shoulder cost

Published in The Courier-Journal on February 27, 2013Health Care
Indiana senators have approved a Medicaid expansion that they hope will allow them to receive billions in federal aid to enroll more people in the state’s medical savings accounts. The Senate voted 44-6 Tuesday in favor of expanding Medicaid using the same principles as the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan. More than 400,000 low-income residents would qualify for Medicaid under an expansion and the federal government would shoulder most of the cost. Gov. Mike Pence has asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to approve using the Healthy Indiana Plan for the Medicaid expansion. The state’s actuary estimates that using HIP would cost about the 3 percent less than using traditional Medicaid.
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Kansas House panel votes against expanding Medicaid

Written by BRENT D. WISTROM for The Wichita Eagle on February 26, 2013Health Care
TOPEKA — A House panel voted against expanding Medicaid services to roughly 226,000 additional Kansans on Tuesday. The resolution now moves to the full House, where lawmakers from both parties say they think it will pass. It doesn’t definitively block Medicaid expansion in Kansas. But it could give Gov. Sam Brownback, who hasn’t said yet whether he wants to expand the program, substantial support if he decides to take a stand against expansion.

Brownback did not include any funding for expansion in his proposed budget. Rep. David Crum, R-Augusta, said the state already has “pretty robust” coverage for kids through Medicaid and CHIP. The expansion, he said, would increase coverage for adults without children. “We’re not going to have any impact whatsoever on our children who are already receiving Medicaid services,” he said. Crum said the United States has avoided feeling the pain of its expanding deficit. Rep. Pete DeGraaf, R-Mulvane, said the resolution sends a simple and clear message that could help Brownback tell officials in Washington that states need more options beyond expanding or not.
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Christie adds New Jersey to the Medicaid expansion list

Written by Kelly Kennedy for USA TODAY on February 26, 2013Health Care
WASHINGTON — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie became the second Republican governor in a week to opt to expand Medicaid today as part of the 2010 health care law. Christie, who announced the expansion during his state budget address in Trenton, N.J., said he was "no fan of the Affordable Care Act," which echoed the other Republican governors who recently accepted millions of dollars in federal help. "While we already have one of the most expansive and generous Medicaid programs in the nation, including the second-highest eligibility rate for children, we have an opportunity to ensure that an even greater number of New Jerseyans who are at or near the poverty line will have access to critical health services beginning in January 2014," Christie said.
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Missouri House committee rejects Medicaid expansion bill

Written by Elizabeth Crisp for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on February 26, 2013Health Care
JEFFERSON CITY - A Missouri House committee on Monday rejected a Medicaid expansion plan supported by Democrats, including Gov. Jay Nixon. In rebuffing the proposal, Republican House leaders said they would rather focus on Medicaid “transformation” — an overhaul of the health care program to weed out inefficiencies.

Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, is expected to file a Medicaid bill today that will give a clearer picture of their plan moving forward. After more than an hour and a half of testimony, the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee voted 5-2 against the Democrats’ bill, which would have expanded Medicaid eligibility to thousands of Missourians under an optional provision of the federal Affordable Care Act. Several representatives from health care and business advocacy groups spoke in favor of expansion during the hearing. One person spoke against it. Supporters say expansion will help create jobs in Missouri, provide health care for the poor and keep rural hospitals that will lose other federal dollars afloat.
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Senate OKs bill restructuring oil tax

Written by Nick Smith for The Bismarck Tribune on February 26, 2013Energy & Environment
A wide-ranging state oil tax restructuring bill was passed Tuesday by the North Dakota Senate after more than an hour of debate mainly involving a lowering of the oil extraction tax. Senate Bill 2336 survived intact despite an effort by a Democratic lawmaker to divide the bill into five separate sections for individual votes prior to final passage. After all five portions of the bill passed individually, the full SB2336 passed by a 34-13 vote.

The prime sponsor of SB2336, Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, outlined the bill to members of the chamber. SB2336 requires annual recertification of wells on stripper well properties. It also changes the definition of a stripper well as a well producing 40 barrels of oil per day. The bill also requires that a well drilled and completed after June 30, 2011, would not be exempt from the oil extraction tax. Any well on a stripper well property exceeding 150 barrels of daily production, according to annual certification by the state Industrial Commission, wouldn’t be eligible until it meets stripper well qualifications.

What drew the sharpest debate was the portion of the bill that would change the state’s oil extraction tax rate. If the state reaches 1 million barrels per day for three consecutive months, the oil extraction tax would drop from 6.5 percent to 4.5 percent on the first day of the next quarter. The drop from 6.5 percent to 4.5 percent would kick in on Jan. 1, 2017, if the 1 million barrels per day level wasn’t reached by that date.
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House finance committee advances bill aimed at preventing voter fraud

Written by ANITA HOFSCHNEIDER for The Associated Press on February 26, 2013Election Law
HONOLULU — House lawmakers will consider prohibiting Hawaii employers, unions and candidates from helping voters complete their ballots after a committee approved a bill aimed at preventing voter fraud. The House Committee on Finance approved a proposal that would also require people who send in absentee ballots to pledge that they did so in secret.

The bill approved Monday would also and require ballots to include information about voter fraud and its consequences. Supporters say the bill is necessary because of past problems with voter intimidation. They say the proposal could help protect the democratic process. County clerks from Maui and Kauai say the bill would impose an administrative burden on their offices. They say state law is already consistent with federal law regarding voter fraud.
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Miss. House OKs list of tax breaks for businesses

Written by Emily Wagster Pettus for The Associated Press on February 26, 2013Economic Prosperity
JACKSON — The Mississippi House has approved tens of millions of dollars’ worth of tax breaks for businesses, but it’s unclear if the proposals will survive the Senate. A top budget writer, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Herb Frierson, estimated Tuesday that the proposed tax breaks would be worth at least $50 million a year and he said that’s a big problem. Frierson, R-Poplarville, said the $5.5 billion state budget is already stretched thin and the House needs to learn to say no to groups that want something, whether it’s more state funding or a lower tax bill. “There’s consequences in politics. You can’t be a narcissistic populist,” Frierson told reporters after the House passed several bills Tuesday. “Populism is wrong, whether it’s liberal or conservative.”

But Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said he’s not trying to deplete the state coffers by pushing for tax breaks. He said that when businesses get incentives, they create jobs, the economy expands and the state collects more revenue. “Do you think that when we take something out of the general fund we’re not expecting to get something back?” Smith told the House. “Come on, folks. Y’all are good business people.” Smith said the Senate rejected several tax incentives that the House passed in 2012. One of the few that passed both chambers and was signed into law last year was an inventory tax break that was “as weak as a popcorn poot,” Smith said.
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Branstad tells feds Iowa won't expand Medicaid

Governor instead presses health secretary for a federal waiver to continue IowaCare

Written by Jason Noble for The Des Moines Register on February 23, 2013Health Care
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has told a top federal health official he will not support an expansion of Medicaid, re­iterating his opposition to a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s health care reform effort. Branstad, a Republican, met with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in Washington, D.C., to discuss potential compromises on adding Iowans to Medicaid, the joint state-federal program providing health care to people with low incomes.

But in an interview Saturday with the Associated Press, the governor said he again rejected an expansion, and pressed Sebelius instead for a federal waiver to continue IowaCare, a health care program that provides limited benefits to 70,000 low-income adults in the state. That program is set to expire later this year. “I am very comfortable that we have made the right decision and we are going to continue to pursue this waiver and we’re working with them on a partnership exchange, and that’s what I told Secretary Sebelius,” Branstad said between sessions of the National Governors Association meeting in Washington. “We are interested in making Iowa the healthiest state. We have kind of set our direction.”
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Sequestration could slow oil and gas leases

Published in The Great Falls Tribune on February 23, 2013Federal Overreach
The Bureau of Land Management estimates there would be 300 fewer onshore oil and gas leases issued on its lands if budget cuts occur Friday, delaying prospective production from those lease tracts and deferring royalty payments to the treasury. Likewise, delays in coal leasing will defer as much as $50 million to $60 million from the treasury for each sale delayed.

The BLM released the information in a statement. Melodie A. Lloyd, a BLM spokeswoman in Billings, said no specific information was available for Montana and that the figures are for all BLM-managed land in the nation. The BLM shares revenues generated from both of these programs with local and state governments. Development of oil and gas as well as coal on federal lands will slow down because of cuts in programs that issue permits for new development, plans for new projects, conduct environmental reviews, and inspect operations, the BLM said. Leasing of new federal lands for future development also will be delayed, with fewer resources available for agencies to prepare for and conduct lease sales.
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Scott Walker's budget proposal could increase charter school growth

Written by Alan J. Borsuk for The Journal Sentinel on February 23, 2013Education Reform
Just what is a charter school? That's the question I get most often when I talk to people in the general public. It's a good question. What's going on with charter schools around here is both important and tough to grasp. Gov. Scott Walker unveiled ideas last week for momentous steps related to education around the state as part of his budget proposal for the next two years.

One of them was not allowing public schools to spend more money for operations in the next two years than they're spending now. I was betting Walker would back a modest increase, at least in line with increased state aid for schools. By not increasing what is called the revenue cap on schools, Walker effectively proposed using increased education aid for property tax relief, not education. That would mean putting public schools statewide in increasingly tight circumstances. Will Republicans in the Legislature accept that or moderate it? A big question for the coming months.

Another Walker proposal would allow launching private school vouchers in as many as nine more cities in the state (Milwaukee and Racine have them now). It's very controversial and we'll talk about it in coming weeks. But Walker's budget proposal also includes important charter school changes. Those have gotten less attention, so let's focus on them here, mostly in the form of a primer on charters.
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