HELP WANTED: In good economic times, it is common for state governments to have trouble recruiting and retaining top talent in high-demand fields such as nursing, engineering and information technology. But a new from the National Association of Chief Information Officers shows that states continue to face challenges in finding and keeping skilled IT personnel despite the weak economy. In a survey of state CIOs, 78.6 percent said that " state salary rates and pay grade structures present a challenge in attracting and retaining skilled IT talent." More than half of the states reported difficulty recruiting new employees to fill vacant IT positions.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY: Connecticut may look to online advertisers to help fill its budget gap. State Representative Richard A. Smith is sponsoring a bill that would allow for ads on state government websites, though federal regulations would make it necessary for sites accepting advertising to switch to a ".com" rather than ".gov" domain. "We're trying to look at new and unique ways to raise revenue without taxing people," Smith told the Hartford Courant. "This might be a way to raise money for the state without reaching into people's pocketbooks." Washington State is piloting a similar approach by allowing its state ferries websiteto run banner ads.
DEFINING CONTRIBUTIONS: Kentucky , Virginia , Florida and a number of other states are considering transitioning new employees from a defined benefit pension plan to a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan as a way to cut costs. But a new actuarial analysis released in Kentucky found that the state might actually end up paying more under a proposal being considered, according to the . For non-hazardous duty employees, the new system would require the state to contribute 2.85 percent of its payroll to the 401(k) accounts, in comparison to the 2.67 percent the state pays under the existing system.
PRIVATIZING TOLL COLLECTION: One of the first recommendationsof New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's privatization task force is now being debated. The task force called for an eventual move to electronic toll collection, and in the interim recommended outsourcing toll collection, which is currently handled by employees of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, to a private company. A request for proposal is seeking firms whose toll collectors would make $12 per hour, in comparison to the $30 per hour that experienced collectors currently make, according to the Star-Ledger.
REFORMING THE REFORMERS: Nearly everyone in Pennsylvania politics seems to agree that government reform should be a top priority this legislative session. Unfortunately, that's where the agreement seems to end. As the Patriot-News>reports, a recent hearing on the subject devolved into a screaming match that included accusations of dictatorship and slavery when House Republicans — until recently the minority party — voted to remove one Democrat from every House committee and made it easier for the new majority to ignore amendments to bills. GOP Governor Tom Corbett released his reform plan, which includes biennial budgeting, consolidation of administrative functions and elimination of boards and commissions that are deemed ineffective or inactive.