Pity state legislators. After years of hearings about an impending demographic doomsday, the bow wave comes ashore this session. The start of 2008 comes with an anticipated demographic inflection point that brings with it unprecedented economic and public policy implications. This year, the first of 78 million baby boomers turn 62, making them eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. In three years, they'll also qualify for Medicare.
Owing to their generation's size and expectations, baby boomers have changed everything they've touched. As they begin to reach old age this year, boomers will spike the demand on federal assistance programs - Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. According to the Congressional Budget Office, federal spending on these programs will rise from 8 percent of the nation's 2007 gross national product to almost 19 percent in 2050. For their part, state legislators have much shorter timelines to balance budgets in an environment of increasing demands and declining revenues. The bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) says an anticipated public-sector revenue slowdown is deeper and more widespread than first thought, due partly to a drop-off in property tax collection in 12 states and fallout from the subprime mortgage collapse.
Against that backdrop, the NCSL released its Top 10 legislative priorities for 2008, most of which have implications for the public-sector technology community. The Center for Digital Government (CDG) thought it would be useful to map the legislative priorities to technologies that the executive branch will use to operationalize solutions.
NCSL Top 10 CDG Technology Ties
- State budgets ERP, dashboards
- Immigration Surveillance, identity proofing
- Driver's license standards Real ID and DMV modernization
- Uninsured Americans Eligibility, case management, CRM
- Education reform 1:1 computing, interactive classrooms, education networks
- Concerns for the middle class Web 2.0 economic development
- The environment Green buildings and technologies that run cooler and cheaper (see the Center's 'green' paper, Simply Green)
- Consumer protection Revisiting and strengthening privacy and cyber-security policies, practices and public education
- Pensions Eligibility, case management, CRM
- Transportation and the nation's infrastructure Intelligent transportation technologies, municipal (intercity) wireless
The Internet is three decades old, and like roads, bridges and other vital public infrastructures, it needs repair and expansion to meet the competitive and technical demands of a broadband world.
The 2008 legislative sessions also promise to be contentious as legislators and governors seek to burnish their records before the November election.
Last year, this might have constituted "a perfect storm." But that phrase topped the list of words from 2007 that deserved to be banned, according to an annual poll of affronts to the English language by Lake Superior State University in Michigan. So keep an eye out for the whatchamacallit - it will make good watching and, if it hits you, it's going to hurt.