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  1. Economic Shocks and Regional Economic Resilience, Working Paper 040 [Download]

    Title: Economic Shocks and Regional Economic Resilience, Working Paper 040
    Author: Hill, Ned
    Description: Economic shocks occur periodically to metropolitan economies, though the effect that these shocks have varies from region to region as does the region’s adjustment and recovery to them. In this paper we examine the nature and extent of these shocks, their effects on regional economies (some regional economies are resistant to shocks, while others suffer substantial downturns), and the resilience of regional economies to these shocks. We are particularly concerned with regional economic resilience: why are some regional economies that are adversely affected by shocks able to recover in a relatively short period of time while others are not?
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 10/16/2015
  2. States and Their Cities: Partnerships for the Future, Working Paper [Download]

    Title: States and Their Cities: Partnerships for the Future, Working Paper
    Author: Wolman, Hal
    Description: Cities are an important determinant of state economic performance. As a consequence, states that ignore the economic well-being of their cities risk falling behind. Cities whose economies are stagnant, whose residents suffer from poverty and unemployment, whose budgets are in chronic fiscal stress, and who require state aid to sustain basic services are a drag on the entire state economy. Cities whose economies are vibrant, whose residents are productive, whose budgets are fiscally stable, and who do not require massive infusions of state aid are assets to the entire state. Our study examines the relationship between states and their cities and the impact of state activity on cities. To understand how states can help cities - and thereby themselves - succeed, the George Washington Institute of Public Policy and Cleveland State University's Office of Economic Development began a study of state policies that contribute to successful urban performance. As background for this paper, we visited seven states (California, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington; see Box 1 on p. 5 for selection criteria). As a result of our research in these states, we identified a set of principles that, when they serve as guides to state actions and policies, can help cities prosper and at the same time benefit all state residents.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 10/16/2015
  3. What Explains Central City Performance?, Working Paper 029 [Download]

    Title: What Explains Central City Performance?, Working Paper 029
    Author: Wolman, Hal
    Description: The fundamental question we address is: What accounts for urban performance? By urban performance we mean change over time in important indicators of urban well-being such as income, jobs, crime rate, housing affordability, etc. Change in these indicators might result from several factors, including 1) structural factors that were present at the beginning of the period and predispose the city indicators to change in a predictable way (economic structure, skill level of the population), 2) exogenous changes that occurred during the period (natural disasters, immigration, new state or federal policies), and 3) endogenous changes that occurred during the period (city policy, behavior of private and public-sector elites). In the popular writing (and often in public policy literature as well), urban performance is frequently attributed largely to explicit policy decisions of local (and/or state) public officials or civic elites. We wish to examine this attribution in the context of other factors that might also affect performance.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 10/16/2015
  4. Intrametropolitan Area Revenue Raising Disparities and Equities, Working Paper 019 [Download]

    Title: Intrametropolitan Area Revenue Raising Disparities and Equities, Working Paper 019
    Author: Atkins, Patricia
    Description: The purpose of this study is to assess the extent of variations in the revenue capacity and effort of local governments in six metropolitan areas – Baltimore, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee, Richmond, and San Francisco. Our approach is to use the Representative Revenue System developed by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations to calculate revenue capacity and effort measures for local governments within each metropolitan area. Revenue capacity is the amount of revenue a local government can potentially raise from its own sources if it applies average tax rates to each tax base, while revenue effort is what it actually does raise dependent upon revenue bases and rates. Measures of revenue raising capacity and revenue raising effort, including indices, rankings, and disparity scores, are presented. General policy recommendations are offered based upon our analysis of revenue raising disparities relative to jurisdictional dependence on particular revenue sources, to sensitivity tests, and to city-suburban disparities or equities. The research results reveal that there are substantial differences in revenue raising capacity and effort between jurisdictions within metropolitan areas – not only among core and suburban jurisdictions, but also among suburban jurisdictions. Additionally, per capita income is not a satisfactory substitute for per capita hypothetical capacity when determining revenue raising disparity through use of coefficients of variation. We achieved high correlation coefficients between the two alternative measures in only three of our six case studies and only when applied to the crudest of our case study analyses, that which included only counties, county equivalents, and municipalities over 25,000.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 10/16/2015
  5. Thin the Soup or Shorten the Line: Washington Area Nonprofits Adapt to Uncertain Times, Working Paper 006 [Download]

    Title: Thin the Soup or Shorten the Line: Washington Area Nonprofits Adapt to Uncertain Times, Working Paper 006
    Author: Atkins, Patricia
    Description: Human services nonprofit organizations are crucial partners to government and the private sector in developing and maintaining healthy communities and families. They are able to leverage multiple funding streams to create a greater capacity to deliver services than any single funding source could achieve on its own. Because they often have strong relationships with the people and neighborhoods where they work, nonprofits are well-positioned to meet community needs. However, in the current economic climate, Washington-area human services nonprofits are being squeezed by rising demand, escalating costs, and increasing administrative tasks, all accompanied by only sluggish revenue growth. An analysis using survey results, tax documents, interviews, and local government budget data finds that these organizations have coped with fiscal stress in a variety of ways—many of which could lead to significant erosion in the quality and quantity of services provided to the community. There are models, though, to bolster nonprofits which should be considered by regional philanthropic organizations and government alike. But overall, the public and private sectors need to work with the nonprofit sector to jointly develop solutions that will meet the needs of community residents without overly burdening the resources of any one sector.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 09/28/2015
  6. State and Local Fiscal Trends and Future Threats, Working Paper 025 [Download]

    Title: State and Local Fiscal Trends and Future Threats, Working Paper 025
    Author: Brunori, David
    Description: State and local public finance has never been more important. Economic, political, and technological developments have dramatically changed how state and local governments raise revenue as well as on what they spend that revenue. State and local public finance structures have not changed significantly over the past five decades. Indeed, the basic structure of the tax systems was designed for a different time and a much different economy. The world in which those systems operate has changed considerably. The U.S. economy has moved from a manufacturing base to one dominated by the service sector and intellectual property. The challenge for state and local governments is that neither services nor intellectual property have been part of their tax base. Moreover, the economy in which people primarily bought locally manufactured tangible personal property no longer exists. Businesses no longer produce and sell products in one or a few states, but throughout the nation and the world. Rapid technological advancements have also played a role in reshaping the fiscal landscape. The age of electronic commerce has revolutionized how people work, play, and communicate. Technology has affected all tax systems, but perhaps none greater than the traditional sales tax. Because state and local governments have been unable to impose sales taxes on most electronic commerce, they have lost billions in tax revenue. These loses have put enormous pressure on governments to find alternative sources of revenue or curtail public spending. In the end, the economy in which most of the state and local revenue systems were designed to operate has been replaced with a high technology, global economy where purchasing services or products from India and Italy is only a few keystrokes away. The global economy has produced a new dimension into the use of fiscal policy to foster economic development. State and local governments have long engaged in a competition against each other for business investment and jobs. Over the past quarter century, political leaders have used their tax laws to encourage companies to relocate to (or to refrain from leaving) their state or locality. Such competition has put enormous pressure on state and local governments to keep tax burdens low, while providing the highest possible level and quality of public services. The globalization of the economy has magnified the scope of the competition. State and local governments are no longer competing with each other, but with nations around the world. Another development with which states and local governments must contend is the changing scope of their duties. American subnational governments are providing more public services than ever before, and the need for revenue has never been greater. The states, for example, are not only providing the traditional services (state police, prisons, higher education, and highway maintenance.) They are also providing many services that were once almost exclusively provided and paid for by the federal and local governments. Since the 1980s the federal government has been steadily shifting more and more responsibilities to the states. The states have been asked (or just as often have been forced) to administer and pay for many programs that traditionally have been the responsibility of the federal government. Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, and highway maintenance are just some examples in which the states have replaced the federal government as the administrative body responsible for providing the services. While the costs of assuming many of these programs have been offset with increased federal funding and protections against unfunded mandates, this phenomenon, commonly called “devolution” in academic circles, has nonetheless contributed to the growth of state, and to a lesser extent, local government budgets. This trend is likely to continue as the federal government, laboring under large deficits, devotes more resources to national defense and homeland security. State and local governments will be asked to do more. At the same time, as the result of political pressure and a flood of legal challenges, state governments have taken on an increasingly greater share of the costs of public education. While elementary and secondary education was traditionally the financial responsibility of local governments, state governments have, over the past decade, paid a decidedly greater percentage of school finance costs. In addition to the financial pressures from shifting responsibilities, state and local governments have experienced what could be called the “politics of anti-taxation.” Since the late 1970s there has been a concerted effort to politicize, even demonize, taxation. This often fervent anti-tax sentiment has festered at all levels of government during the past quarter century. Anti-tax politics fueled the passage of Proposition 13 in California and spurred property tax revolts around the country. Tax cutting became a regular theme for gubernatorial or legislative candidates seeking election in virtually every state. It has also helped spawn the initiative and referendum movement, a process that has traditionally been dominated by anti-tax crusaders. The politics of anti-taxation has limited state and local government ability to raise revenue precisely when the demand for services and education spending has increased. This report provides a detailed description of state an d local fiscal systems and how they operate given the developments discussed above.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 09/28/2015