Research Roundup: State Budget Troubles Worsen, Impacts of Foreclosure, Anticipated Results of the Health Families Act

State Budget Troubles Worsen - Despite stimulus money and budget cuts, at least 48 states addressed or are facing shortfalls in their budgets for the upcoming year totaling $166 billion, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  Aggregate gaps through 2011 likely will exceed $350 billion.

The States and the Stimulus: Are they using it to create jobs and 21st century transportation? - This Smart Growth America report finds that while some states are devoting funds to needed road repair and expansions of public transportation, too many other states are devoting funds to new road capacity rather than repair or energy-efficient transit options.

The Impacts of Foreclosures on Families and Communities: A Primer - This Urban Institute brief examines how foreclosures affect families and communities -- and the efforts at the local level to address those problems.

Anticipated Health Impacts of the Healthy Families Act of 2009 - This study by Environmental Health and Human Impact Partners finds that providing families with paid sick days will reduce worker-related disease spread in the workplace, especially food establishments, along with preventing income loss for workers losing jobs because of taking leave in the absence of a statutory right.

On swing states, voter registration, and poll-site access:

  • The Swing States of America - This FairVote analysis highlights the continuing disproportionate influence of "swing states" on our politics, including fewer campaign dollars spent and fewer Presidential visits to non-swing states.  The analysis is used to emphasize the need for National Popular Vote legislation to elect the President based on the overall popular vote to make every vote, not just votes from swing states, crucial in elections.
  •  Permanent Voter Registration - With tens of millions of Americans changing their voting address each year, this study by the Brennan Center for Justice highlights the advantages of moving to systems where government automatically keeps voters registered when they move.  With new federal rules requiring centralized databases, most states have the building blocks for implementing permanent voter registration.
  • Expanding Democracy: Voter Registration Around the World - The Brennan Center for Justice surveys the voter registration practices of other democracies and finds that in many advanced democracies "government itself assumes the responsibility of creating and keeping voter rolls, rather than relying on citizens to register themselves and navigate a clunky, outdated, and often inaccurate system."  They particularly look at the Canadian system which shares many similarities with our own, but achieves much higher registration rates.
  • Voters With Disabilities: More Polling Places Had No Potential Impediments Than in 2000, but Challenges Remain - The Government Accountability Office has released this survey of poll place accessibility.

Extending Foster Care to Age 21: Weighing the Costs to Government against the Benefits to Youth - With federal law now allowing states to claim federal reimbursement for caring for eligible foster youth until age 21, this academic study by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago highlights research showing increases in post-secondary educational attainment and an increase in higher lifetime earnings for foster children given such extended support.

Some broadband resources:

  • Broadband Stimulus Money:  Broadband stimulus grant requirements for state and local governments were released yesterday from the federal Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  Applications for the first funding window will be accepted July 14, 2009 through 5:00 p.m. EDT August 14, 2009.  The complete details of this Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA), the applications forms and application guidelines are available at  In addition, a second NOFA was released yesterday, one that allocates $250 million for state level maps. These funds are available to the governor of the state, or the governor’s designee.  Details are available at
  • Speed Matters is testing broadband Internet speeds from around the country to collect data to be presented to the Federal Communications Commission as it develops a National Broadband Plan.  You can also check out updated posts at their blog.

The Broader, Bolder Approach to Education - This Economic Policy Institute report argues for a more comprehensive assessment of student achievement beyond "teaching to the test" encouraged by the the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.