Above The Fold 05.20.09

2009: The summer furlough…Don’t mess with Texas, or technicalities…Smart roads want smart cars and smart grids…How not to pass health care reform – ask California…

Fortune announces that “America goes on furlough” this morning. Due to the ever-declining economy, this summer is expected to be a harsh summer for white-collar workers at universities, technology companies and state agencies as more managers look to cut payroll with “temporary layoffs” and furloughs. “Companies have done the huge surgery in terms of offering reductions in forced and involuntary ways,” says Fred Crandall with consulting firm Watson Wyatt. And now the edges must be trimmed. “No one knows where the bottom is,” says Crandall, “so companies have taken successive bites out of the apple.”

The culmination of a states’ right bill, originating from the Texas legislature and bound for Washington D.C., was going to bring tears to ghost of Davy Crockett’s eyes. A wild “Don’t mess with Texas” furor had been sturred by Gov. Perry and supporters like State Rep. Brandon Creighton. “It had nothing to do with seceding from the union and everything to do with succeeding in the union,” he said. But, the battle cry of “Secede!” was squshed by the phrase “point of order.” The bill was shot down Tuesday by a lone Democrat on a point of parliamentary procedure. Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, raised a procedural point that notice of the committee hearing on the measure was improperly posted. Rep. Creighton hopes to resurrect the resolution within the next 12 days before the session ends, the Dallas Morning News reports.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, some twenty-two states will use federal stimulus dollars to build “smarter roads,” Stateline.org reports. By installing traffic cameras, creating express toll lanes, HOV- or HOT-lanes, and automated alerts regarding accidents or travel delays, states are hopeful of puting money to work fast, by creating more than just construction jobs. “Intelligent Transportation Systems” projects in Colorado, Delaware, Georgia and New Jersey are already under way – and the hope is that these improvements will have a multiplier effect.

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that California’s attempts at universal health care will provide the Obama administration with a useful lessons as well as warning signs about how to proceed with their plans for health care reform. Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans and a leader in the industry’s talks with the White House, said, “A number of different groups began to talk about what are the lessons of California, and how big a problem the rising health cost curve is.” The biggest obstacle that faced California when they tried to reform the state’s health care system was in persuading people that costs could be kept down. It “was the Achilles’ heel,” Ignagni said.

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