Capitol Ideas

Capitol Ideas is a periodic listing of story ideas and background information from new NCSL research. For more information, contact NCSL's Press Team.

Latest Budget Report Finds Near-Record Shortfalls for States

NCSL released its “State Budget Update: March 2010” with information on all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Athough spending overruns — especially for Medicaid — are increasingly pinching state budgets, the principal cause of budget gaps has been the steep drop-off in state revenues. The continued poor performance of personal income and sales taxes accounts for much of the problem in fiscal year 2010. Through the first eight months of the fiscal year, 25 states reported that personal income tax collections were below the latest target. More

High-Speed Trains Soon Will Link States to the Future

High-speed, intercity passenger rail has become a high-profile transportation issue for states. The Obama administration has placed a new emphasis on high-speed rail as a transportation alternative that can complement highways, aviation and public transit, especially in 100- to 600-mile corridors. Although the term “high-speed rail” evokes images of well-known European and Asian trains that travel at more than 250 mph, in 2008 Congress defined it more modestly as “…reasonably expected to reach speeds of at least 110 mph.”  Only three U.S. routes—in Pennsylvania, New York, and between Boston and Washington, D.C.—are high-speed by this definition, but more are planned. To learn more about high-speed rail efforts in states, read a copy of High-Speed Rail: On the Fast Track

How States Can Support Growing Groceries in Food Deserts

The growing obesity and nutrition crisis in the United States threatens the long-term health of many Americans. The food people eat, however, is not always the result of personal choice. Communities across the nation lack easy access to stores that stock affordable, nutritious food. These areas, often termed “food deserts,” are especially common in struggling urban neighborhoods and isolated rural communities. Consumption of fruits and vegetables generally is lower in food deserts because fresh produce often is not available or may be too expensive. Research shows that, when lower-income families have access to full-service grocery stores, they are likely to purchase more fruits and vegetables and have better health. Find out what states can do and are doing to help meet this growing need. Request a copy of  Growing Groceries in Food Deserts.

State Solutions to Chronic Health Conditions and Minority Youth

Young people from racial and ethnic minorities in the United States suffer disproportionately from chronic health conditions. Compared to white youths, African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to have asthma and type 2 diabetes and be overweight. Among young people between the ages 10 and 19, American Indians have the highest prevalence of type 2 diabetes.  Rates of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases are higher among African American and Hispanic young people than whites of the same age. Many state initiatives aim to provide children and youth with healthier food and more opportunities to enjoy physical activity at school. For more information, request a copy of Chronic Health Conditions and Minority Youth.   

Developing Laws to Prevent Teen Suicide

Suicide accounts for about 4,400 deaths annually among 10- to 24-year-olds. Far more young people attempt to take their own lives: About 149,000 were treated in emergency rooms for self-inflicted injuries in 2006. Among high school students in 2007, 15 percent report having seriously considered suicide in the past year, 11 percent created a suicide plan and 7 percent attempted suicide. A Children’s Safety Network estimate based on 2007 dollars shows, on average, each completed suicide among this age group costs $1.9 million in medical costs and lost productivity. Comprehensive plans in 48 states address suicide prevention, and some laws require the states Department of Education to establish and teach a youth suicide prevention curriculum.To learn more about state efforts, request a copy of Preventing Teen Suicide.

Be in the Winner’s Circle at Legislative Summit in Louisville

Bluegrass, bourbon, the Kentucky Derby. They’re legendary. One of a kind.  This summer it’s your turn to be in the winner’s circle at the meeting of champions, the 2010 NCSL Legislative Summit in Louisville, Kentucky, July 25-28.

Join 5,000 legislators, legislative staffers, business representatives, government officials, union and foundation representatives for four days of Louisville hospitality, informative policy discussions and innovative solutions for the biggest problems facing the states today. Registration is open for credentialed members of the news media. Learn more here.