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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Learning from Abroad: A Framework, Working Paper [Download]

    Title: Learning from Abroad: A Framework, Working Paper
    Author: Wolman, Harold
    Description: How can US local governments learn in order to better address their jurisdiction’s problems and their residents’ needs? One of the most effective methods is to look at the experience of local governments elsewhere that face problems similar to their own. This is an effective approach because it in effect constitutes a “policy experiment” in which an interested local government can actually observe whether a policy or practice in place elsewhere works.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 06/14/2016
  6. Learning from Abroad: Multi-Purpose Special Districts in British Columbia as a Possible Model for Governance Innovation for Local Governments in the United States, Working Paper [Download]

    Title: Learning from Abroad: Multi-Purpose Special Districts in British Columbia as a Possible Model for Governance Innovation for Local Governments in the United States, Working Paper
    Author: Wolman, Harold
    Description: Would regional districts or their equivalent work in the United States? The report considers several possible differences in setting that might affect transferability to regions in the U.S., including differences in institutional, legal, political, cultural, historical, and demographic contexts. The report concludes that the major contextual concerns are political in nature and particularly the fear local governments have of surrendering their autonomy and decision making to external institutions. However, it also emphasizes the voluntary nature of RDs and the ability of individual local governments to either opt in or opt out of each service delivery agreement provides a new and innovative feature that should greatly reduce a local government’s political reluctance. The report also notes that questions of membership, representation and voting rights and weights will have to be worked out on a region by region basis.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 06/14/2016
  7. Developing Legitimacy for Action by Connecting Citizens and Government: Lessons for U.S. Local Government Leaders from a Citizen Engagement Process in Australia, Working Paper [Download]

    Title: Developing Legitimacy for Action by Connecting Citizens and Government: Lessons for U.S. Local Government Leaders from a Citizen Engagement Process in Australia, Working Paper
    Author: Barnes, William
    Description: The four-year “Geraldton 2029 and Beyond” initiative effectively addressed the entwined challenges of "legitimacy for action on sustainability” and “trust in government” that the City of Greater Geraldton faced in 2009-2010. The 2029 citizen engagement process navigated substantial difficulties. The City government discovered and acted to address a “trust in citizens” problem of its own. As of late 2015, two years beyond the project’s planned duration, the citizen engagement effort continues and aims for additional, longer-term, improved governance on many topics. This report concludes that the practice that emerges from the Geraldton experience, which is not without risks, can be considered for adaptation by US local governments. The practice is not limited to the “sustainability” focus. Comparison with other localities that used similar approaches suggests that the practice can produce useful results in many kinds of places and on many kinds of topics. This is an approach, not a mechanism or a tool or an event. It can be described as follows: 1. It is to be used in governance situations where the functional issue is significant, complicated, contentious, and stalled, and is entwined with trust-in-government and legitimacy-for-action issues. The goals are thus both to address the functional issue and also to produce systemic, enduring improvement in local governance. 2. It requires a City Hall leadership committed to hard thinking about and a clear grasp of the “problems” to be addressed (including problems internal to the government) and the goals to be sought, as well as a resolve to address difficulties and unpleasant facts as they arise. 3. It conducts governance–in the short-term engagement processes and also aimed at building a better governance for the longer-term –that tries to be more inclusive of ordinary citizens; more deliberative; and, for the citizens’ engagements, more influential. 4. It requires very strong process design, selection and assembly of apt tools and tactics, and adaptive management of the activities as they occur. Careful consideration should be given to how the processes will involve citizens in dealing with budget constraints or other hard choices.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 06/14/2016
  8. The TANF Resources Problem [Download]

    Title: The TANF Resources Problem
    Author: Meni, David
    Description: 2016 marks the twentieth anniversary of passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). Among other things, PRWORA replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (AFDC) with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Whereas a federal support for AFDC was an open-ended matching grant, TANF is funded with a block grant from the federal government combined with a “Maintenance of Effort” obligation for states. The block grant and MOE contributions are set for the most part at nominal levels from the mid-1990s. This paper looks at recent trends in TANF funding compared to trends in prevalence of child poverty. Compared to other work with similar intent, the novelty here lies in use of a more comprehensive poverty measure, incorporation of adjustments for interstate variation in prices, and a minor exploration of the connection between TANF resources and state fiscal capacity. Over the past decade inequality in state resources per poor child has increased. The disparities are great, making application of common performance standards without adjustment for resources questionable. Options for reform include separation of federal support for income maintenance from support for the various other programs that now garner well over half of TANF funding.
    Keywords: Public policy, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, TANF, Child poverty
    Date Uploaded: 04/15/2016
  9. Information Resources to Facilitate Middle Skills Workforce Development, Working Paper [Download]

    Title: Information Resources to Facilitate Middle Skills Workforce Development, Working Paper
    Author: Reamer, Andrew
    Description: The aim of this paper is to suggest improvements in information resources that would enable a well-functioning supply chain for middle-skill jobs, i.e., jobs that require some postsecondary education but not a four-year degree. The paper begins with a summary of the types of labor market participant decisions that require good information, follows with an overview and assessment of currently available information resources, and then offers recommendations for enhancing these information resources so that labor markets function well and participants have a reasonable likelihood that their decisions work as intended.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2016
  10. Urban Politics Revisited: A Policy-centered Look at Local Political Ecologies [Download]

    Title: Urban Politics Revisited: A Policy-centered Look at Local Political Ecologies
    Author: Stone, Clarence
    Description: This paper elaborates the policy-centered research program proposed by Hacker and Pierson (2014) by exploring how policy-centered research contributes to an understanding of urban politics and how the urban subfield contributes to a policy-centered research program. Using a bi-level analysis of the drug war and local union organizing, we highlight the local consequences of national policies and show that the consequences of national initiatives vary substantially, particularly for marginalized groups.
    Keywords: Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 02/12/2016