News From State Budget Solutions - July 2013

STATE BUDGET SOLUTIONS REPORT: Financial Incentives Are The "Core" Of New Education Standards
Are Common Core's Uncommon Incentives Too Good For States To Pass Up?

The implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative is forcing states to determine when a "good offer" becomes an offer that cannot be refused. That is to say that federal incentives offered to states for adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have become very attractive--so attractive that "voluntary" participation in the program may be merely a nominal check on the centralization of American education.

The CCSS are a list of specific and universal educational benchmarks in English language arts and mathematics that will replace the individual state K-12 education goals and requirements of each state that adopts them. A new executive report from State Budget Solutions explains and addresses the issues surrounding the adoption of the CCSS and address the "voluntariness" question, the incentives and disincentives for states, and how the CCSS may affect the balance of federalism between states and the federal government. These issues are at the forefront as states grapple with whether to implement the CCSS and as some states, including Michigan and Indiana, reconsider their endorsement of the CCSS.

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Double-dipping? Texas lawmakers receive state retirement payments while serving in Congress

A dozen members of the Texas congressional delegation reaped state retirement benefits while collecting their federal paychecks over the last two years — a much higher rate than other states’ lawmakers.

Cory Eucalitto, editor of the nonpartisan State Budget Solutions, blasted Congress for the practice, which he said is gaining visibility as nation’s pension system continues to crumble. He said he was not aware of any “serious attempts” to address the problem.

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State Budget Solutions In the News

State Budget Solutions is a known expert in fiscal responsibility and pension reform. Every month, countless media outlets and financial professionals cite the work of SBS's expert analysis and publish the opinions of SBS leaders.

Illinois legislators will fail to save pensions
State Journal Register - June 27, 2013

As Illinois heads into a special legislative session, elected officials need to carefully consider their duties to uphold the state constitution.

The Illinois constitution protects government employee retirements, deeming participation in a retirement plan a contractual obligation, “the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.” Read More

Work needed to truly fix Oklahoma pension systems
NewsOK - July 7, 2013

All signs point to pension reform being a central issue in Oklahoma's next legislative session. Both Gov. Mary Fallin and Treasurer Ken Miller have said the state's unfunded pension liability, which market valuations estimate are as high as $33 billion, is the one of the final hurdles in the state's quest to regain its AAA credit rating.

With pension reform a possibility, though, the governor and legislators should focus on truly fixing the state's pension problems. They need to know what creating a defined contribution (DC) system for new hires does to reduce the existing unfunded liability: nothing. That move should be accompanied by reforms to the existing defined benefit (DB) structure. This dual approach is the only way to ensure that the growth in retirement obligations doesn't crowd out funding for vital public services like education. Read More

The Williams Report

As a former state legislator, gubernatorial candidate and auditor with the Government Accountability Office, State Budget Solutions' President Bob Williams is a national expert in fiscal and tax policies.  Each week, he compiles the latest news and headlines pertaining to state budgets, collective bargaining and state public pensions into The Williams Report.

Economic Policy Institute wrong on Rhode Island pension reform. State Budget Solutions

Taxpayers wind up paying for employee contributions of the government employee pension plan as part of “pension pickup” deals. San Jose Mercury News

Governor signs $33.6 billion budget (a $2.5 billion increase) avoiding a government shutdown. Budget gives a $1 billion boost to schools. The Spokesman-Review

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