Cover Story

America’s Biggest Drug Problem Isn’t Heroin, It’s Doctors

BY John Buntin

Painkillers prescribed by both well-intentioned doctors and so-called "criminals in white coats" are driving the overdose epidemic. States and cities are pioneering ways to control it.


Why Camden, N.J., the Murder Capital of the Country, Disbanded Its Police Force

In hopes of reducing the city's high crime rate, Camden, N.J., made a controversial and unprecedented move a year ago to replace its police force. BY Mike Maciag

The 7 Deadly Sins of Public Finance

There’s no sure-fire way to get fiscal policy right. But there are a few simple ways to get it disastrously wrong. BY Liz Farmer

John Kasich: The Ohio Enigma

Is the Ohio governor a conservative or an ideologue -- and will it even matter in November? BY Chris Kardish

States and Localities Are Losing Their Influence in Washington

Increased partisanship in state and local government has caused the organizations representing them to lose some of their influence on federal policy. Can they get it back? BY J.B. Wogan



A Conservative Group Goes Local

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is expanding its reach beyond the states to local governments. BY Alan Greenblatt

Inside Minnesota’s ‘Unsession’ of Spring Cleaning

Gov. Mark Dayton pushed lawmakers this year to focus on getting rid of useless and outdated laws during the state’s short legislative session. BY Chris Kardish
Public Safety & Justice

Should Private Companies Like Facebook Pay for Public Safety?

After the Silicon Valley city that Facebook calls home slashed its police services, Facebook put funding down for a new police officer. BY Daniel C. Vock

The Return of Local Currencies

The past decade has seen a resurgence of these boosterish bucks. But do they actually redirect spending to mom-and-pop shops instead of big box stores and online retailers? BY Liz Farmer

Have Judges Overstepped Their Authority on Education?

Nearly every state has faced lawsuits over school funding. But only in Kansas have judges tried to quantify the quality of education. BY Alan Ehrenhalt
Potomac Chronicle

How Much Can (and Should) Government Protect People from Natural Disaster?

By letting citizens live in vulnerable places even after disaster strikes, governments plant the seeds for future disasters. BY Donald F. Kettl

A Guide to the 36 Governors’ Races

Which incumbent governors face a tough road ahead and which are expected to win re-election easily? BY Louis Jacobson
Health & Human Services

Dental Therapists Fill Medicaid Holes and Dentists’ Pockets

A new study suggests dental therapists would boost dentists’ profits and help more Medicaid patients get care. So why are dentists so opposed to states’ efforts to license them? BY David Levine
Infrastructure & Environment

How Karl Marx’s ‘Urban Metabolism’ Is Helping Cities Go Green

The old approach to how humans interact with nature is getting new life in an effort to make cities more sustainable. BY Elizabeth Daigneau
Economic Engines

Faster Cars, Hotter Tech, Fewer Drivers

Should government facilitate Americans’ changing relationship with cars? BY Alex Marshall
Urban Notebook

The Transit System America Threw Away

Before streetcars practically disappeared, they carried millions of people around our cities. Will light rail systems decline too? BY John Martin



Immigrants Countering Population Losses in Many Metro Areas

Policymakers are looking to attract immigrants in an effort to offset some regions' population declines. BY Mike Maciag
Smart Management

Politicians Count Their Pennies Too Soon

Elected officials have a tendency to promise big savings and painless cuts that often don’t turn out how they hoped. BY Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
Better Government

A Better Way to Save Jobs: Employee Stock Ownership Plans

ESOPs give employees part ownership of their companies and prevent major job losses when owners retire. But only two states support them. BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

NYC’s Simple Plan for Reducing IT Fraud and Waste

After losing hundreds of millions of dollars, the city is starting to clamp down on IT contractors to make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. BY Tod Newcombe
Public Money

Public Health Funding May Get a Shot in the Arm

After suffering deep cuts during the recession, public health officials are rethinking how to fund these essential services. BY Justin Marlowe
Infrastructure & Environment

A House Built for Just $20,000

Since 2005, students at Auburn University have been building homes designed for just about anyone to afford. BY Elizabeth Daigneau