While issues like marijuana legalization and minimum-wage increases dominated state headlines through the 2014 midterm elections, governors and state legislatures will be taking up more nuts-and-bolts issues moving forward.
To find out what’s high on the list, we reached out to Mick Bullock, director of public affairs at the National Conference of State Legislatures. And his list might surprise you.
Much of what governors and lawmakers will take up are pocketbook issues, including jobs, healthcare and the affordability of education. Much of it too will depend on how things go in Washington, where Congress will work in a lame-duck session this year before returning in 2015 under Republican control.
Here’s what Bullock put on the list, in his own words:
Job Creation and Economic Development
“State legislators around the country are looking to job creation to spur economic growth,” he wrote. “In doing so, legislators will consider policies that encourage job growth and expansion in their states.”
“State legislators are considering a number of items associated with implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” he wrote. “Specifically, where control of the statehouse has changed from one party to another, there may be efforts to reverse the previous’ administration’s decision whether to participate in the federally-funded Medicaid expansion. In either situation, look for a debate in many state capitols around the country.”
“Whatever happens in Congress regarding the Highway Trust Fund, state legislatures need a long-term funding solution for their transportation infrastructure,” Bullock wrote. “If Congress does not act, states will have to look at other funding solutions.”
The Affordability of Post-Secondary Education
“As tuition and other educational expenses increase, state legislators are looking at ways to help offset some of the costs associated with pursuing a higher education,” he wrote.
“With the cost of corrections increasing, states are looking at cutting expenses while maintaining public safety,” he wrote. “This might include expanding private prisons and a review of the judicial process.”