Business & Economy
States will be a Central Focus in Foreign Trade in 2015 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by The Council of State Governments   
Tuesday, 13 January 2015 14:34

LEXINGTON, Ky.--As states strive to remain globally competitive, many state legislatures will be looking to foreign trade and attracting new investment from international partners.

The Council of State Governments this week released its annual listing of top 5 issues legislators will face this year in education, energy and the environment, federal affairs, fiscal and economic development, health, international affairs, interstate compacts, transportation and workforce development.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , director of CSG's International Program in Washington, D.C., said the states' role in global trade will grow in 2015.

"Trade is big on the national agenda in 2015 and states will become a central focus as the European Union has placed high priority on greater engagement in state procurement markets in their free trade deal negotiations with the U.S.," said Bray.

While state leaders will need to consider the hurdles these free trade deals present, such as different regulatory standards between the U.S. and other countries, Bray believes states cannot overlook the potential benefits they offer.

"The increased opportunity for exports is an area states should really focus on--making sure their international trade programs are robust and prepared to help businesses take advantage of enhanced market access," she said. "Every state leader should know their state trade director and be aware of the ongoing success of small business exports in their state. Exporting companies tend to pay higher wages and show sustainable growth--even in a tough economy."

Bray lists export promotion programs as the top issue facing states in the international arena because of the potential they offer for growing state economies.

"State leaders should have the courage and foresight to invest in their export promotion programs," she said. "While there has been an increase in leaders working to attract foreign investment to their states, in the long-term, a strong exporting economy is a more sustainable force and will continue to create jobs. Once a company has learned how to export to one market, it is more likely to start exporting to others."

Other global issues facing state leaders are attracting foreign direct investment, international trade agreements, trade facilitation and higher education internationalization, according to Bray.

Learn more about the Top 5 issues in international affairs. For more information about these or any other topics, visit the CSG Knowledge Center.

The Council of State Governments is our nation's only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships. Learn more at www.csg.org

 
Legislators Look to Increasing Wages, not just Number of Jobs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by The Council of State Governments   
Tuesday, 13 January 2015 14:31

LEXINGTON, Ky.--Although the economic collapse that was the Great Recession may be over, state leaders know it's not all blue skies ahead for the economy.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , program manager for fiscal and economic policy at The Council of State Governments, said while the economy is steadily gaining jobs, wages are not increasing.

"The recovery has really reached a turning point, and state leaders are starting to think about the future, instead of just digging out of a hole," Burnett said. "They are going to be looking for ways to not just create one more job and bring the unemployment rate down one more point, but how to create high-paying jobs--jobs that have a future."

According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the average annual wage for jobs lost in the recession was $61,637, but the average wage for the jobs added through the second quarter of 2014 was just $47,171. Increasing wages, not just the number of jobs, will be the top fiscal issue on state policymakers' minds this legislative session, Burnett said.

"So far, the recovery has seen a lot of job growth in low-income sectors while jobs in higher paying sectors that really propel the economy forward have been more elusive," she said. "Now that the crisis is over, it is time to start looking at quality instead of just quantity when it comes to job growth."

The Council of State Governments this week released its annual listing of top 5 issues legislators will face this year in education, energy and the environment, federal affairs, fiscal and economic development, health, international affairs, interstate compacts, transportation and workforce development.

Burnett said other issues facing legislators this year include preparing for the next fiscal crisis, dealing with a likely decrease in federal funding coming to the states, paying for Medicaid costs, and covering public pensions and retiree health care costs.

Even though the economy is in much better shape than it was five years ago, states still have some serious issues to address, Burnett said.

"Balancing a healthy recovery with long-term investment and fiscal planning is like walking a tightrope," she said. "How do you restore funding in critical areas like education and infrastructure that will shore up economic growth today while making sure you have the resources to weather the next storm that comes along?"
Learn more about the Top 5 issues in fiscal and economic development. For more information about these or any other topics, visit the CSG Knowledge Center.
The Council of State Governments is our nation's only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships. Learn more at www.csg.org.

 
Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds announce retirement of IWD director Teresa Wahlert PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jimmy Centers   
Tuesday, 13 January 2015 10:05

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today announced the retirement of Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) Director Teresa Wahlert. Wahlert formally notified the governor late Friday that she would retire effective today, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015.

“I wish to thank Teresa Wahlert for her work to help lead initiatives like Skilled Iowa, which trains workers with the skills needed to fill the high-paying careers available across Iowa, Home Base Iowa and the National Career Readiness Certificate,” said Branstad. “Lieutenant Governor Reynolds and I wish her all the best as she begins her retirement.”

“Director Wahlert’s energy and passion to serve the people of Iowa was evident in her dedication to ensuring that Iowa workers had access to programs that would assist them in filling the new, highly-skilled careers coming to Iowa,” said Reynolds. “Under her direction, Iowa Workforce Development was a key partner as 168,700 jobs were created in the past 4 years.”

Branstad appointed Beth Townsend, current executive director of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, as acting director of IWD. He appointed Don Grove, former Iowa Civil Rights Commission director and current Iowa Civil Rights Commission employee, the acting executive director of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

The governor will appoint a permanent director at a later date. A timeline for naming a permanent director has not been set.

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Governor Quinn Signs Law to Provide Secure Retirement Option for Workers Across Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Katie Hickey   
Wednesday, 07 January 2015 13:41

Creates Secure Choice Savings Program for Private Sector Employees  

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to create the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program. The program establishes the option of an individual retirement plan for more than two million Illinois private sector employees who currently do not have access to any retirement plan at work. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure all Illinois workers are protected and treated fairly.  

“For many people across Illinois, retirement planning is often a matter of too little, too late,” Governor Quinn said. “Without an adequate retirement savings plan, many people are forced to spend their later years scraping to get by with just Social Security. This legislation protects millions of private sector employees in Illinois who work hard but do not have the option of a retirement plan through their employer.”

Senate Bill 2758, sponsored by State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Skokie) and House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), establishes the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program. The program creates a simple individual retirement savings option through a 3 percent payroll deduction for private sector employees whose employer does not offer a retirement plan besides Social Security. Employers that have been in business for at least two years and employ 25 or more employees are required participate. Employees can opt-out of the program, or contribute more or less than the default 3 percent. 

“The opportunity to save using a Secure Choice account will prevent many seniors from facing appalling choices — whether to buy food or medication, for example, or whether to live in poverty or continue working despite declining health,” Senator Biss said. “Neither employers nor the state will incur any financial risk for these portable accounts, and small business groups welcome Secure Choice because it will boost their ability to compete with larger companies for the best new hires.”

“Several million Illinois workers don’t have a retirement savings plan at work. While Social Security was never intended to be the only source of income for retirees, for far too many, it’s all they have,” Leader Currie said. “The Secure Choice Savings Program encourages workers to save, which will provide them greater financially stability in retirement.”

The funds will be overseen by a seven member Illinois Secure Choice Savings Board, which will select a private firm to manage the money. The state will not have access to the funds as the investments are pooled as private property of the workers outside of the state treasury.  

The Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law, the Illinois Asset Building Group and the Woodstock Institute report that 2.5 million people in Illinois currently lack access to a retirement plan. Without proper retirement savings, retirees are often forced to rely on Social Security when they can no longer work. The savings from Social Security are often not adequate to sustain families, often forcing retirees into a dependent lifestyle.

The program will provide workers an opportunity to secure a safe retirement and give more businesses the opportunity to offer a retirement savings program at no cost to the company. The program will be self-sustaining at no additional cost to the state with the exception of start-up administrative costs.

The new law is effective June 1, 2015 and implementation must be complete within two years.

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Just Two Weeks Until Leadercast Lunch & Learn Series Returns - A Limited Number of Seats Remain PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Todd Ashby   
Monday, 05 January 2015 16:43
2015 Leadercast Lunch & Learn Series
Beginning in just two weeks, this year's  Lunch and Learn Recap Series will be held noon to 1 p.m. on January 16, February 20, March 20, and April 17, at DHCU Community Credit Union, 1900 52nd Ave., Moline, IL.
During the Lunch & Learn Recap sessions, videos will be shown of the top four 2014 Leadercast speakers, as determined by attendee survey results. Everyone at the Lunch and Learn events will have a chance to discuss the valuable concepts being presented as they enjoy a delicious Chick-fil-A lunch.
Speakers for the Leadercast Lunch & Learn Recap series will be:  

January 16th - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

February 20th - Simon Sinek

March 20th - Henry Cloud

April 17th - Andy Stanley

Cost of each Leadercast Lunch & Learn Recap session is $15 and includes a complimentary Chick-fil-A lunch. Register for all four sessions in advance and pay only $45 – a savings of $15. 

Capacity for each session is 60 attendees and seats are filling quickly.
To register or for more information, call Todd Ashby of Results Marketing at 563-322-2065 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Feel free to befriend Leadercast Quad Cities on Facebook at www.facebook.com/qcleadercast, follow us on Twitter at @leadercastqc or join our discussion group on LinkedIn – search Leadercast Quad Cities.

 

 
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