Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Reports on State Budgets's guest commentary features Raymond C. Scheppach, an economist and executive director of the National Governors Association, on States and the Stimulus with a discussion of the stimulus package, the economy and state budgets.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has documented State Measures to Balance FY 2010 Budgets with a series of tables that document the measures, both proposed and enacted, that states are taking to close their budget gaps.

The March issue of the State Economic Review by the National Governor's Association provides an update on state budgets and takes a look at the President's mortgage plan.

The Rockefeller Institute's State Revenue Flash Report looks at the sharp declines in state revenues in the 4th quarter.

For strategies in tough state budget times.

Friday, March 27, 2009

New Report on Successful Juvenile Detention Reform

The New Jersey Office of the Child Advocate issued a new report on juvenile detention that:
• Outlines the need for county and state leaders to capitalize on the success of detention center reforms that have resulted in fewer youth being confined in county detention centers.

• Focuses on strengthening services and creating innovative programs for youth involved with the juvenile justice system and to prevent youth from offending in the first place.

• Encourages counties to reinvest fiscal resources to build quality prevention and treatment programs, as well as detention alternatives.

• Emphasizes that investments in these resources will keep our children out of jail, in school and on the path to becoming productive residents ... Much of this can be done through creative, cost-neutral strategies and by streamlining and redirecting existing resources.
For more information on New Jersey's successful detention reform efforts.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act Introduced

Senator Patrick Leahy announced the introduction of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act (S. 678). The Act amends the 1974 Act and includes new provisions such as requirements for State plans to include:

1) Alternatives to detention, including diversion to home-based detention or community-based services or treatment for those youth in need of mental health, substance abuse, or co-occurring disorder services at the time the juvenile first came into contact with the juvenile justice system.

2) A reduction in the number of children housed in secure detention and corrections facilities who are awaiting placement in residential treatment programs.

3) Inclusion of family members in the design and delivery of juvenile delinquency prevention and treatment services, particularly post-placement.

The Act also authorizes incentive grants to state and local governments for juvenile delinquency prevention programs, including evidence based programs for the prevention and reduction of juvenile delinquency, personnel recruitment and training, and mental health and substance abuse screening and treatment.

See state policies to implement the requirements under the Act related to juvenile detention.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How are the States using Recovery Funding?

Governor Patrick of Massachusetts has announced $300 million in safety net expansions (such as food stamps and elder food programs), $30 million in transportation projects, $200 million to school districts for special education and $162 million to public colleges to avoid layoffs and offset student fee increases.

The announcements were made under the new plan, "Massachusetts Works", with the following three goals:
Deliver Immediate Relief:
• Road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today
• Services such as unemployment insurance and health care that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during a crisis

Invest in a Better Tomorrow:
• Education and infrastructure investments to position us for a better tomorrow
• Clean energy, broadband, and technology investments to cut costs and grow the economy
• Preparing workers for the jobs of tomorrow in growth and innovation industries

Reform State Government:
• Eliminate Pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government
• Revitalize transportation systems that have suffered from a pattern of neglect and avoidance

Saturday, March 21, 2009's latest on the stimulus: How the President and Congress have learned from past recessions.'s "Promise and Peril" article details how lessons from the past have resulted in a timely and effective stimulus package.

Congress and the Obama administration appear to have avoided at least one pitfall of previous economic stimulus packages: sending funds to states too late to help. … But current stimulus architects seem to have learned other lessons from earlier programs, as well, as they now target much of the money for specific programs, set deadlines for spending it and demand that states publicly account for dollars spent to ensure the money is being used wisely and without delay.

... Much of the $200 billion that will flow through state governments under the current stimulus is for specific programs, including education, benefits for the unemployed and transportation. The stimulus also sets out specific deadlines and largely uses existing formulas to compute each state’s share and get the funds out quickly. The law gives priority to projects that can be up and running without delay.

For more information: