Recent Policy Progress

In 2010, CFED collected data on state policy changes that occurred or for which data became available after July 2009. State-by-state changes to the 12 Policy Priorities are detailed on each Policy Priority Web page. A summary of policy changes across all 12 Policy Priorities can be found in the Special Report, Recent Progress on the 12 Scorecard Policy Priorities.

Context for state policy changes
The economic recession that gripped the nation, which has been both cause and effect for escalating unemployment and foreclosure rates, has also drastically reduced state tax revenues from every revenue source. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, all but a small handful of states faced budget shortfalls in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 and will continue to do so in fiscal year 2011.1 It is in this context that we consider state policy progress—or in some cases, lack thereof—made on 12 policies that expand and protect financial security and opportunity.

Summary of findings
Looking across policies and across states, a total of 115 policy improvements were adopted. Although 45 policies were weakened, the net result is a stronger state asset policy infrastructure compared to the prior year. Not surprisingly, the policies that saw the most success tended to be those that were low- or no-cost—such as eliminating asset tests in public benefit programs, streamlining enrollment in the Children’s Health Insurance Program and regulating consumer lending. Results were more mixed for policies that required new or significant funding—such as housing trust funds, microenterprise development and individual development accounts.

Looking at the geographic distribution of the changes, 34 states had net gains in the policy infrastructure to support financial security and opportunity; six states ended with a zero sum, adopting as many positive changes as negative ones; four states made no changes positive or negative; and seven states had net losses, weakening the overall financial security and opportunity policy infrastructure. Maryland led the country by strengthening six policies and weakening none. Nebraska trailed all other states by weakening three policies and strengthening none.

Net Gains/Losses on 12 Policy Priorities

The findings from this research demonstrate that even in a context where states are facing major budget shortfalls, significant progress on state asset-building and -protection policies is possible. This progress is a testament not only to the power of strong advocacy, but also to the inherent logic and value of an “assets” approach.

Data Sources and Methodology
Full explanations of methodology and data sources for tracking policy progress, along with detailed state-by-state policy changes, are available on each Policy Priority page.

Lifting Asset Limits in Public Benefit Programs
State IDA Program Support
State Earned Income Tax Credit
Payday Lending Protections
State Microenterprise Support
Access to Health Insurance

Housing Trust Fund
First-Time Homebuyer Assistance
Predatory Mortgage Lending Protection
Early Childhood Education
Access to Quality K-12 Education
College Savings Incentives

1 McNichol, E., Oliff, P., & Johnson, N. (2010, July). Recession Continues to Batter State Budgets; State Responses could Slow Recovery. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Retrieved July 2010 from