The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan

"The Pulse", the Citizens League issue scan looks at topics of interest to members of the Citizens League (

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Saturday, January 11, 2003
Environment and Metropolitan Growth and Development. Growing with Less Greenhouse Gases. Jena Carter of the Natural Resources Policy Studies at the National Governor's Association wrote on strategies for reducing greenhouse gases while accommodating growth including expanding transportation choices, conserving greenspaces, and promoting new community designs. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from transportation-related sources, such as cars and buses, accounts for 32 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and transportation is the second-fastest growing source of CO2. Some of the strategies and best practices cited include:

·Wisconsin developed a comprehensive GHG emission reduction strategy and went on to conduct an economic assessment of mitigation options, such as programs to promote more efficient energy use and production and greater transit options. The state discovered that it could stabilize emissions at 1990 levels by 2010 for less than $15 per ton of CO2, while saving up to $2.7 billion in energy and operating costs and creating more than 7,000 jobs.

·Vermont incorporated its Greenhouse Gas Action Plan into the state's energy plan. The plan identifies policy options that could reduce GHG emissions by 21 percent, increase employment by 1 percent, reduce energy costs by $6.2 billion, reduce acid rain precursors by 24 percent, reduce ground-level ozone precursors by 30 percent, and reduce energy use by 16 percent by 2020.

·Rhode Island published its Greenhouse Gas Action Plan identifying 52 ways the state can reduce its GHG emissions. Sample actions include requiring that a percentage of electricity sold in Rhode Island come from renewable sources, and integrating land-use zoning and transit planning efforts to reduce vehicle miles traveled. In addition to in-state measures, the plan endorses regional and national efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The full report may be accessed at: (288)

Friday, January 10, 2003
Energy and Environment. Editorial: Clean energy / A startling vision of the possible. The lead editorial of the January 10, 2003 Star Tribune commented on the Citizens League report on a clean energy future for Minnesota. The editorial summarizes the League's work in envisioning a new kind of elelctric power system:

• Electricity could be made in smaller, cleaner, highly efficient generating plants scattered around the transmission network, some using renewable energy sources such as wind, sunlight or biomass.

• The transmission network could be operated as public infrastructure, like a highway system, with connections open to all generators and consumers -- reducing the need for long-distance, high-capacity lines.

• Currently available technologies for industrial machinery, building design and home appliances could reduce electricity consumption by as much as 30 percent, while raising rates less than 10 percent.

• A system of tradable pollution credits could reduce the output of gases that cause smog, lung disease and global warming -- more sharply, more flexibly and more cheaply than the present permitting system.

The full editorial may be read at: (287)

Thursday, January 09, 2003
Healthcare: Arizona Governor Launches Discount Prescription Drug Program. Newly elected Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano launched a program that could allow nearly 600,000 seniors and disabled Arizonans use a discount card to buy prescription drugs at cheaper prices. It is estimated that seniors could get a 20 percent discount. The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the agency that runs the state's version of the federal Medicaid program, will be sending out bids to pharmacies in a few weeks. The full story may be found at: (286)

Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Healthcare: Spending on Health Care Increased Sharply in 2001in U.S. Robert Pear wrote for the January 9, 2003 New York Times on rapidly increasing healthcare costs in the U.S. Healthcare spending in 2001 increased at the highest rate in ten years. Factors contributing to this increase included greater use of hospitals and prescription drugs and declining influence of managed care. In 2001, health spending rose 8.7 percent, to $1.4 trillion, and accounted for 14.1 percent of the total economy. This is the largest percent of the economy in history and the highest share in the world. Spending averaged $5,035 for each person in the United States. The full story may be found at: (285)

The Economy: Center of the “Creative Class”. The Grid column by Sandra Yin and John Fetto in the December 2002/January 2003 (pp. 22-23) issue of American Demographics magazine, shows a map of where the 38 million “creative types” live in the U.S. who produce new ideas, technology or creative content for a living. Starting from the number one per capita ranking of “creative types” are the following six U.S. metropolitan areas: Washington, D.C., Raleigh-Durham, Boston, Austin, Texas, San Francisco, and Minneapolis Saint Paul. The description of the concept and implications for economic development are described in a book by Richard Florida entitled The Rise of the Creative Class (Basic Books). (284)

Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Metropolitan Growth and Development. Fannie Mae rolls out Smart Commute. As reported in the January 2003 issue of Twin Cities Business, Fannie Mae launched an initiative in the Twin Cities called Smart Commute that has since been launched in Burlington, Vermont, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. This is an update on the so-called "location-efficient mortgage" concept that provided various types of incentives to locate near or use mass transit says Missy Thompson, director of Minnesota's Fannie Mae Partnership office. Smart Commute provides first-time homebuyers two years of unlimited travel on Metropolitan Transit if they located within a quarter of a mile of a transit line. This yields "implicit income' of $9,000 per year for loan purposes based on savings of transit over using a car. To date 14 borrowers have used the program in the Twin Cities. (Source: Twin Cities Business, January 2003, pp. 16-18). (283)

Monday, January 06, 2003
K-12 Education. Minneapolis Desegregation Program Enters Year Three. Allie Shah wrote "Demand for school desegregation program continues" for the January 6, 2003 Star Tribune. The "Choice Is Yours" voluntary desegregation program in Minneapolis and some suburbs enters its third year January 15, 2003. About 1,000 students have participated in the program that arose out of 1995 lawsuit brought by the NAACP. A total of 500 seats each year are reserved in the eight suburban school districts -- Columbia Heights, Edina, Hopkins, Richfield, Robbinsdale, St. Anthony-New Brighton, St. Louis Park and Wayzata that participate in the program. Since fall 2001, when the first class of students enrolled in their new schools, 90 percent of the seats have been filled. The full story may be read at: (282)

Sunday, January 05, 2003
Technology. High Turnover in State Chief Information Officers. Thomas R. Davies wrote for on the importance of the relationship between Chief Information Officers and Governors. A large number of CIOs left in 2002 and even more will leave with the two dozen new Governors entering office. Competition from private sector salaries, greater complexity of challenges including homeland security, and resource scarcity make these challenging positions even more so. The full story may be read at: (281)