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  1. 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
  2. Local Democratic Governance: What Is It and How We Manage It?, Working Paper 031 [Download]

    Title: Local Democratic Governance: What Is It and How We Manage It?, Working Paper 031
    Author: Bell, Michael
    Description: The purpose of this paper is twofold. The first task is to develop a conceptual framework for thinking about local democratic governance. Once that framework is developed, specific indicators will be proposed to monitor the quality of key features or characteristics of a process of local democratic governance. The indicators will be “actionable” and can be used to guide CDD operations and track progress in strengthening local democratic governance. In order to address these topics, the next section discusses the meaning of local democratic governance. That is followed by a discussion of why local democratic governance is important. The following section then turns to a discussion of the formal and informal arrangements which combine to produce a vibrant process of local democratic governance. The final section proposes actionable indicators for measuring different dimensions of the process of local democratic governance.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 10/16/2015
  3. Capital Cities and their National Governments: Washington, DC in Comparative Retrospective, Working Paper 030 [Download]

    Title: Capital Cities and their National Governments: Washington, DC in Comparative Retrospective, Working Paper 030
    Author: Wolman, Hal
    Description: Along numerous dimensions Washington, D.C. differs substantially from the rest of the United States. It is a city that lacks the support and resources of a state. It performs many of the same functions as a state while lacking most of the rights, powers, and privileges guaranteed to states under the U.S. Constitution. The District of Columbia lacks full representation in the U.S. Congress, has limited autonomy over its own governance and fiscal policy, while carrying numerous burdens associated with hosting the national capital. While unique in the American context, how unique is the District in the international context? All nations have capitals. In what ways do the circumstances of capitals in other nations resemble or differ from the District’s? In what ways are capital cities treated differently from other cities in the respective nation?
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 10/16/2015
  4. 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
  5. Estimating Economic Impacts of Homeland Security Measures, Working Paper 022 [Download]

    Title: Estimating Economic Impacts of Homeland Security Measures, Working Paper 022
    Author: Cordes, Joseph
    Description: The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 have prompted the federal government to adopt a number of different measures that are intended to reduce the probability of future successful terrorist attacks and/or reduce the impact of any future attacks should they occur. These measures are grouped together under the broad rubric of preserving and increasing homeland security. Public policies that increase the level of homeland security require that government, individuals, and businesses devote more time and money to protective measures, which exacts an economic cost. Using a broad definition of “homeland security” to consist of “all expenditures possibly aimed at either preventing damage due to terrorist attacks or at preparedness for the response to potential attacks,” the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) has estimated that in 2003 total public and private sector outlays on increased security equaled just over $70 billion or just under 0.7% of the nation’s gross domestic product. In addition, the FRBNY report estimates that “indirect costs” such as travel delays related to heightened airport security added an additional $12 billion, for a total estimated cost of more than $80 billion. Whether costs of this magnitude are viewed as “large” or “small” depends on one’s perspective. On the one hand, as noted in the FRBNY article, when viewed against the landscape of a $11 trillion national economy, the estimated costs of attaining homeland security are relatively small; and clearly, measures of macroeconomic performance such as economic growth and employment indicate that the national economy has been able to take these additional costs in stride. Yet this does not mean that such costs should be ignored in the design, implementation and evaluation of homeland security policies. •The magnitude of the aggregate costs associated with homeland security are quite comparable in size to estimates that have been made by OMB and others of the economic cost of environmental and social regulations, and there is general agreement that there is a public interest to be served in ensuring that such regulations achieve the maximum social benefit at minimum social cost. Presumably the same logic should apply to homeland security measures. •There has been criticism that outlays made with the ostensible purpose of fostering greater homeland security have been wasteful. Focusing more attention on the economic cost and economic impact of proposed homeland security measures can help reduce such wasteful expenditures, just as more careful analysis of these factors has led to more cost-effective governmental regulatory policies in other areas (as documented by the Office of Management and Budget). •Although the impact of a single, or multiple homeland security measures may seem “small” in the context of the national economy, these costs are typically concentrated on certain stakeholders, such as local governments, specific business sectors, or consumers of particular goods and services. To these stakeholders, the cost of achieving greater homeland security can be quite palpable and substantial, and should receive their proper due in the design and evaluation of homeland security measures. •At a practical policy level, unlike national defense, policies intended to promote homeland security, are not exempt from OMB requirements that government regulatory programs with cost of impacts of $100 million or greater be subject to regulatory analysis which requires a careful analysis of the costs of such such measures in relation to the benefits to be derived.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 10/16/2015
  6. Toward Understanding Urban Pathology: Creating a Typology of 'Weak Market' Cities, Working Paper 021 [Download]

    Title: Toward Understanding Urban Pathology: Creating a Typology of 'Weak Market' Cities, Working Paper 021
    Author: Furdell, Kimberly
    Description: Not all distressed cities are the same, either in the causes of their distress or in its manifestations. In this paper, we empirically develop a typology of economically distressed cities which differentiates among types of cities based on different aspects of economic distress and its impact on city residents. We measure two facets of distress by using eight indicators to create two distinct distress indexes, the City Economic Condition index and the Residential Economic Wellbeing index. Cities that fall in the bottom third of the distribution on these indexes are considered economically distressed, or “Weak Market” cities. We then use cluster analysis to differentiate among the weak market cities based on different aspects of distress, and to explore the relationship between the economic health of cities and that of their metropolitan areas. We argue that urban policy makers must recognize that distressed cities are not a homogenous group, and that appropriate policy solutions will reflect the differences among such cities.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 10/16/2015
  7. Explaining City Performance: How Important is State Policy?, Working Paper 020 [Download]

    Title: Explaining City Performance: How Important is State Policy?, Working Paper 020
    Author: Blumenthal, Pamela
    Description: Some cities are successful, attracting businesses and residents, while others struggle unsuccessfully with declining industries and diminishing population. In this paper, we identify cities that over- or under-performed on certain indicators of well-being during the period from 1990 to 2000, compared to their predicted performance according to models we developed. Selecting certain states and their cities, we conducted case studies to examine why a city did particularly well (or poorly) compared to our prediction with respect to the income, population, or housing affordability indicators and what the role of state policy was, if any, in the city’s deviation from expected performance. We then discuss initial findings for a subset of the cities and indicators. The empirical results indicate that state policy can impact city performance, but it is only one of many factors and its influence may be quite small at times.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 10/16/2015
  8. The Property Tax: Its Role and Significance in Funding State and Local Government Services, Working Paper 027 [Download]

    Title: The Property Tax: Its Role and Significance in Funding State and Local Government Services, Working Paper 027
    Author: Brunori, David
    Description: This report, produced by the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, focuses on the incidence of the property tax and its significance in funding state and local government services. The purpose of the study is to help policy makers, researchers, and others interested in local government finance to better understanding the role of the property tax. An overview of the historical and current role of the property tax as an important source of revenue, including a discussion of trends, demonstrates how entrenched the property tax is, and explains the circumstances and conditions that contribute to the current property tax environment. The second section of the report outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the property tax today, while the subsequent section addresses the prevailing views and current debates among public finance analysts. The final section describes the variation in use of the property tax, and how the political process gave rise to much of that variation.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 10/16/2015
  9. Active Living and Biking: Tracing the Evolution of a Biking System in Arlington, Virginia, Working Paper 024 [Download]

    Title: Active Living and Biking: Tracing the Evolution of a Biking System in Arlington, Virginia, Working Paper 024
    Author: Young, Garry
    Description: When it came to biking in the early 1970s, Arlington County, Virginia largely resembled the rest of the Washington, D.C. area and other urban areas along the East Coast. Biking was a neighborhood-based activity for kids. Bike trails were not a major component of parks or recreational planning and programming. Bikeways were not part of transportation planning and development. Bike commuting was limited to a few daring riders who were regarded as a menace by most drivers. A steady evolutionary change in biking policy during the last three decades has yielded some of the nation’s best biking assets in Arlington. It has a comprehensive, well-connected, highly integrated, well-mapped and signed system of shared-use paved trails, bike lanes, bike routes, and other biking assets such as workplace showers. Recently the League of American Bicyclists designated Arlington County as one of thirteen “Bicycle-Friendly” communities (League of American Bicyclists 2003). In addition, a recent major study by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT 2003) generally cites Arlington as having a superior bikeways and connectivity relative to most other parts of Northern Virginia. In contrast, most other areas in the region lag behind. For example, Arlington and two neighboring counties –Fairfax County, Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland– share many attributes and the same pro-bicycling interests – in fact often the same groups and people have actively pursued improved bikeways in each county during the same period. Yet today Fairfax County’s biking system is unmapped, sporadic, and lacks connectivity. Montgomery County does have some very good biking assets, though without Arlington’s level of connectivity and integration.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 10/16/2015
  10. 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