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The recent Congressional elections resulted in a split decision with Democrats gaining control of the House and Republicans expanding their majority in the Senate. This outcome will almost certainly guarantee gridlock in Washington, D.C. — inevitably shifting attention to policy reforms in states, which remain our nation’s “laboratories of democracy.”
As Washington descends further into partisan warfare, there are a few major issues that must receive attention at the state and municipal level:
State - Finances - Nation - State - Plans
State Finances: Across the nation, state financial plans face a ticking time bomb. This largely is a result of three factors. First, public pension costs are becoming unsustainable. Second, entitlement costs, as at the federal level, are consuming an increasing portion of state budgets. Lastly, years of deferred maintenance have left states and cities with massive upcoming bills for infrastructure (roads, bridges, airports, mass transit, for example).
States largely have failed to adequately fund the backlog of projects during a time with record low unemployment and a record high stock market. When the economy enters a downturn, they are in big trouble.
Education - States - Expansion - School - Choice
Education: In Republican-controlled states, expect to see further expansion of school choice in the form of charter schools, educational savings accounts, and tax credits to encourage donations to K-12 scholarship programs. In all states, expect more serious consideration of non-college tracks for high-school graduates.
The Manhattan Institute’s Oren Cass, in his well-regarded new book, “The Once and Future Worker,” makes the case for focusing on jobs for all, instead of college for all. Cass argues that many non-college jobs offer a solid route to the middle class, with substantially lower debt.
Jobs - Pipeline - Trades - States - Apprenticeships
With nearly 7 million existing jobs unfilled and the pipeline for skilled trades atrophied, states likely will focus more on apprenticeships and workforce training.
Housing and Homelessness: With the economy and stock market booming, high housing prices and rental rates in...
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