States and localities will spend much of their time this year grappling with troublesome new realities and trying to work out their relationship with Washington.
New realities are a given in any governmental year, but the 2015 crop includes some unusually potent ones. Legislators will be dealing with widespread water shortages, dwindling transportation funds, the emergence of new drugs that threaten to blow up Medicaid budgets, and revised pension accounting rules, among other challenges. There will be passionate debates about how to regulate the hospitality and taxi industries, and about how to safely transport the oil and gas pouring out of North Dakota and Canada.
Meanwhile, expect to see ongoing tensions with the federal government. On education, for instance, many states are frustrated by what they see as top-down remedies that emphasize accountability through standardized testing. The Common Core backlash will continue this year, as a critical period begins for these new curriculum standards. States will be dealing with a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency to cut 30 percent in carbon dioxide emissions nationwide. And the year is likely to see a down-to-the-wire debate over federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. A decision in Congress not to continue funding the program would leave last-minute holes in state budgets while stripping millions of children of health coverage.
Source: David Kidd, governing.com