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  1. Community Building and a Human-Capital Agenda in Hampton, Virginia: A Case Analysis of the Policy Process in a Medium-Size City, working paper 012 [Download]

    Title: Community Building and a Human-Capital Agenda in Hampton, Virginia: A Case Analysis of the Policy Process in a Medium-Size City, working paper 012
    Author: Stone, Clarence
    Description: Cities, particularly older and land-locked cities like Hampton, Virginia, face intense economic pressure. Their responses, however, are not structurally determined, but involve a significant role for political agency in setting and pursuing an agenda. This case study of Hampton traces how key players saw the problems they faced, the responses they made, and the bundle of skills, strategies, and resources they brought together in responding. Working through city government and a nonprofit concerned with youth development, a group of talented professionals devised a revitalization agenda around the ideas of community building and human-capital development. By devising a process that aligned community resources with city and nonprofit programs, they linked their efforts in mutually reinforcing ways that could be sustained. Thus they created an institutional legacy that could endure even as new issues and new players came on the stage.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 09/28/2015
  2. 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
  3. Fiscal Decentralization in the Sudan: Concepts and Challenges, Working Paper 010 [Download]

    Title: Fiscal Decentralization in the Sudan: Concepts and Challenges, Working Paper 010
    Author: Bell, Michael E.
    Description: In May 2003 the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement signed a series of peace accords ending the nation’s 20-year civil war. The peace protocols set out a framework for peace, which will require a substantial restructuring of the federal system of government in the Sudan. The first section of this paper outlines the potential benefits of decentralization. The following section then discusses the implications of the peace protocols for the restructuring of the federal system in the Sudan.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 09/28/2015
  4. Have central cities come back?, Working Paper 005 [Download]

    Title: Have central cities come back?, Working Paper 005
    Author: Furdell, Kimberly
    Description: Did the residents of large central cities really experience a rebound in their economic fortunes since the 1980s? Much has been made of the revival of distressed cities during the 1990s, yet how much of this asserted revival really worked its way down to residents? We find that residents of distressed central cities were, more often than not, worse off in 2000 than they were in 1980. We first construct a four-variable index of the economic well-being of central city residents, called the Municipal Distress Index, for the 98 central cities that had at least 125,000 residents in 1980 with metropolitan area populations of at least 250,000. We then compare the change in the economic wellbeing of the residents of the 33 cities with the lowest index scores in 1980 against (1) their own performance over this time period, (2) the performance of the 65 nondistressed central cities, and (3) the performance of the nation. In the third section we build regression models of change in the index and of each of the components of the index to determine what accounts for the improved economic well-being of city residents. In the last section of the paper we examine the residuals of the models to find out which cities performed much better and worse than expected in terms of promoting the economic well-being of their residents. The residual analysis is offered as an objective means for selecting places for case study.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 09/28/2015
  5. Recommendations for the Design of the Federal Docket Management System, Working Paper 008 [Download]

    Title: Recommendations for the Design of the Federal Docket Management System, Working Paper 008
    Author: Coglianese, Cary
    Description: In recent years, regulatory agencies, Congress, and the White House have taken steps to increase the use of information technology in the management of the rulemaking process. The latest such “e-rulemaking” effort is the design of a new, government-wide regulatory information system being developed by Bush Administration. The system, known as the Federal Docket Management System, will for the first time make all information pertaining to federal regulation available to the public via the Internet. By making information about government regulation available on-line, the Administration’s eRulemaking Initiative seeks to improve the quality and legitimacy of the government’s regulatory decisions. If developed properly, the Initiative’s new online docket management system can also facilitate academic research that in the longer term should improve regulatory policymaking. The recommendations in this paper, joined by a group of fifty-five other scholars of regulation, were originally delivered in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, which is spearheading the Administration’s eRulemaking Initiative. The paper describes the information currently maintained by government agencies and emphasizes the importance of ensuring that no loss of information occurs in making the transition to the on-line system. It also offers steps that the administration should take to ensure a high level of quality of the information stored in the new system as well as effective search and downloading capabilities.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 09/28/2015
  6. Cities and State Legislatures: Changing Coalitions and the Metropolitan Agenda, Working Paper 003 [Download]

    Title: Cities and State Legislatures: Changing Coalitions and the Metropolitan Agenda, Working Paper 003
    Author: Wolman, Harold
    Description: Throughout American history cities have lobbied their states in order to obtain funding and to protect or enhance their legal authority. States are responsible for the foundational legislation that determines city powers and resources; likewise issues crucial to the fate of cities are fought out each year in state legislatures. The importance of state decision making for cities increased with the new federalism of the 1970s and it has continued to grow as the federal government has delegated more responsibility to state governments in recent decades. However, the enhanced importance of states comes at a time when cities have lost political strength in state legislatures. Once reliable urban strategies such as logrolling, coalitions with legislators from other distressed areas of the state, and control of the Democratic Party caucus are less effective in state legislatures as cities have lost population and as urban delegations have become less cohesive. As urban political strength has ebbed, a growing chorus of analysts has argued that cities can no longer go it alone and must engage in broader regional strategies in order to thrive. Our study examines whether cities have embraced these new ideas as they formulate their strategies in state politics. We ask two questions: First, what do cities want out of their state governments, i.e., what issues are at the top of their lobbying agenda? Second, what methods or coalitional strategies do they use to achieve their political goals? Focusing on politics in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and New York over the past decade we show that cities set defensive and reactive legislative priorities designed largely to preserve existing arrangements; urban leaders, especially mayors, showed little initiative in pressing for new regionalist ideas in these state legislatures. City leaders continued to rely heavily on older political strategies of logrolling and party caucus alliances. But as such strategies have become less dependable cities have looked to a much broader range of political alliances to win desired legislation. Their limited success suggests the need for more creative approaches to defining urban priorities in state legislatures and for more vigorous efforts to build common interests across geographical boundaries.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 09/23/2015
  7. Privileged Place: Race, Uneven Development and the Geography of Opportunity in Urban America, Working Paper 002 [Download]

    Title: Privileged Place: Race, Uneven Development and the Geography of Opportunity in Urban America, Working Paper 002
    Author: Squires, Gregory
    Description: David Rusk, former Mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has observed that “bad neighborhoods defeat good programs.” This paper identifies the underlying causes of bad neighborhoods along with their costs to local residents and residents throughout the region. It is a critical essay that traces recent patterns of uneven metropolitan development, the social forces generating these patterns, their many costs, and potential remedies. It demonstrates how the interrelated processes of sprawl, concentration of poverty, and racial segregation shape the opportunity structure facing diverse segments of the nation’s urban and metropolitan population. In so doing, it draws on recent scholarly literature from various disciplines, government data and documents, research institute reports, and the mass media. Topics addressed include income and wealth disparities, employment opportunities, housing patterns, access to health care, and exposure to crime. While recognizing the role of individual choice and human capital, the paper focuses on public policy decisions and related private sector activities in determining how place and race shape the opportunity structure of metropolitan areas. Finally, the paper explores various policy options to sever the linkages among place, race, and privilege in the nation’s urban communities.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 09/23/2015
  8. The Impact of Family Homeownership on Children's Educational Attainment and Earnings During Early Adulthood, Working Paper 004 [Download]

    Title: The Impact of Family Homeownership on Children's Educational Attainment and Earnings During Early Adulthood, Working Paper 004
    Author: Galster, George
    Description: Previous studies attempting to estimate the relative importance of family, neighborhood, residential stability, wealth, and homeownership status characteristics of childhood environments on young adult outcomes have: (1) treated these variables as though they were independent, and (2) employed inadequate methods to control for household selection effects. Our study offers advancements in both areas. First, it treats the key explanatory variables above as endogenously determined (sometimes simultaneously so). Second, to deal both with this endogeneity and the selection problem, we compute instrumental estimates for childhood average values of endogenous explanatory variables and use them to estimate relationships with young adult educational and labor market attainments. We analyze data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) that are geocoded to Census tract data. Using this panel data set, we follow children born between 1968 and 1974 and observe their adult outcomes as of 1999 when they are between 25 and 31 years of age. We are thus able to document a wide range of background and circumstantial characteristics for the first 18 years of children’s lives. We find via OLS that, compared to children who never experience a home owned by parents, those who spend half of their first 18 years in home(s) owned by their parents (which corresponds to the average experience in our sample) would be predicted to have, all else equal, a 17.3 percentage point (19 percent of the mean) - higher high school completion rate. Our preliminary instrumental variable explorations suggest that these relationships may actually be even stronger.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 09/18/2015
  9. Racing up to the Bottom: Work and Welfare in the US, Working Paper 001 [Download]

    Title: Racing up to the Bottom: Work and Welfare in the US, Working Paper 001
    Author: Stoker, Robert P.
    Description: This paper describes the work support system, estimates the income provided by work support programs in the fifty American states and the District of Columbia (D.C.), and comments about the potential and limitations of the system as a means to alleviate poverty among poor workers. The income provided by work support programs varies from place to place and according to family structure and work patterns. Of course, the extent of participation in work support programs is also a crucial consideration. Total income provided by the system is estimated as the sum of earned income for full time, minimum wage work and the estimated value of benefits provided by work support programs for a family of three with two children.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 09/17/2015