Performance-Based Budgeting in the States

Source: Erica MacKellar, Legisbrief, Vol. 24 no. 35, September 2016

In an effort to ensure that tax dollars are spent more efficiently and effectively, some state legislatures are using performance-based budgeting. This strategy focuses on outcomes, requiring programs and agencies to work toward a larger purpose while meeting specific goals. There are practical challenges to this approach, however, such as defining goals and collecting data to measure performance.

Apprenticeship Programs a Key Workforce Strategy in States

Source: Elizabeth Whitehouse, The Current State, Issue 78, September 26, 2016

States and businesses continue to recover from the Great Recession, and they are doing so in an environment shaped by two historic shifts related to economic and workforce development. The first is the return of manufacturing jobs to the United States and the second is new technological requirements of these jobs. While job opportunities continue to grow, today’s factories require greater levels of technical knowledge from employees.

But with these new jobs come new challenges in the form of preparing a workforce equipped with the skills and competencies required for a rapidly evolving workplace—filling the critical skills gap among today’s workers as well as students preparing to enter the future workforce. In 2015, the Manufacturing Institute projected that the coming decade would produce 3.5 million manufacturing jobs but that the skills gap would result in 2 million of those jobs being very difficult for employers to fill.

State policymakers are turning to apprenticeship programs as a key strategy in addressing skills gaps and meeting the labor needs of employers….

Transforming the workforce for children birth through age 8 : a unifying foundation

Source: Allen LaRue and Bridget B. Kelly – editors, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council of the National Academies, Committee on the Science of Children Birth to Age 8: Deepening and Broadening the Foundation for Success, Board on Children, Youth, and Families, ISBN 978-0-309-32486-1, 2016

….. The major focus of this report is on those professionals who are responsible for regular, daily care and education of young children from birth through age 8, working in settings such as homes, childcare centers, preschools, educational programs, and elementary schools. Many of the report’s messages are also applicable to closely related care and education professionals who see these children somewhat less frequently or for periodic or referral services, such as home visitors, early intervention specialists, and mental health consultants. The report also encompasses professionals in leadership positions and those who provide professional learning for the care and education workforce. In addition, the report includes considerations for the interactions among care and education professionals and practitioners in the closely related health and social services sectors who also work with children and their families. Finally, findings presented in this report regarding foundational knowledge and competencies are applicable broadly for all adults with professional responsibilities for young children.

This report’s focus is on the competencies and professional learning that need to be shared among care and education professionals across professional roles and practice settings in order to support greater consistency. Although further specialized competencies and professional learning experiences differentiated by age, setting, and role are also important, this committee’s task was to bridge those competencies and experiences in ways that will enable these professionals to contribute collectively and more effectively to greater consistency in practices that support development and high-quality learning for young children. …..
Related:
Summary

2015 Annual Survey of State Government Tax Collections

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Tip Sheet, Release Number: CB16-TPS.136, September 26, 2016

State government tax revenue increased 4.8 percent, from $875.0 billion in fiscal year 2014 to $916.5 billion in 2015 ─ the fifth consecutive increase, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 Annual Survey of State Government Tax Collections.

Income taxes drove most of the growth, accounting for $27 billion of the $41 billion increase, from $360.1 billion to $387.2 billion, or 7.5 percent.

The 2015 Annual Survey of State Government Tax Collections provides a comprehensive look at state governments and contains statistics on the tax collections of all state governments, including receipts from compulsory fees. State governments and businesses have been using these statistics since 1951 to make policy and investment decisions.

Revenue statistics are broken down into 25 subcategories, such as motor fuel taxes, amusements taxes and hunting license taxes. Tax revenue statistics also include related penalty and interest receipts of the governments….

Detailed Table
Category Table
Flat Data File

Quarterly Summary of State and Local Government Tax Revenue for 2016: Q2

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, G16-QTAX2, September 20, 2016

Provides quarterly estimates of state and local government tax revenue at a national level, as well as detailed tax revenue data for individual states. This report produces three tables: Tables 1 and 2 include income and sales data and Table 3 provides tax collections by state. … Second quarter 2016 tax revenues for the four largest state and local government tax categories decreased 0.6 percent to $338.2 billion, from $340.4 billion in the same quarter of 2015. ….
Related:

Revisiting the Impact of Head Start

Source: Claire Montialoux, University of California – Berkeley, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Policy Brief, September 2016

From the blog post:
As millions of parents across the United States are getting their children back to school, academics and policymakers are also taking a closer look where it all begins for the nation’s earliest learners — preschool. Does it really work and is it worth the cost? ….

…. The question may be simple, but the answer is less so.

Early studies of Head Start and other preschool programs found large positive effects on both cognitive and non-cognitive skills, like vocabulary and self-control. But the first randomized experimental study of Head Start (the Head Start Impact Study, or HSIS), conducted in 2002, showed that the program produced smaller benefits that faded out by the time the students were in third grade. Some have interpreted this as evidence that Head Start is ineffective.

Several recent studies by UC Berkeley faculty and others, however, have shown that the HSIS data, when interpreted appropriately, indicates that Head Start has significant benefits. Some of these benefits last far beyond the Head Start years, like increases in health and lifetime earnings.

The reason for this misinterpretation is simple: unlike earlier studies, the HSIS compared Head Start participants to children in a broad range of childcare arrangements, many quite similar to Head Start. About one-third of the HSIS control group participated in alternative preschool programs, and the rest of the children in the control group were cared for at home…..

The Cost of Work-Family Policy Inaction: Quantifying the Costs Families Currently Face as a Result of Lacking U.S. Work-Family Policies

Source: Sarah Jane Glynn and Danielle Corley, Center for American Progress, September 2016

From the summary:
….One of the many costs of the lack of work-family policies is lost wages, which occur when individuals are forced to quit working or must reduce their work hours because they cannot access child care or paid leave. This report quantifies those lost wages to help illustrate and bolster the case that the nation is already incurring burdensome costs by not having work-family policies in place. Families bringing home a new baby or experiencing a serious illness often see their day-to-day expenses increase, making unpaid leave even more burdensome. When workers only have access to unpaid leave, it directly takes money away from families, local communities, and the businesses that rely on consumer spending.

Every year, as our new analysis shows, working families in the United States lose out on at least $28.9 billion in lost wages because they lack access to affordable child care and paid family and medical leave. This hidden cost includes $8.3 billion in lost wages due to a lack of child care and $20.6 billion in lost wages due to a lack of access to paid family and medical leave.

Notably, the costs in lost wages outlined in this report are only the tip of the iceberg. Families face additional costs in terms of depressed future wages and lost savings and retirement security when caregivers take extended time out of the labor force or when parents take lower paying jobs in exchange for greater flexibility—issues which are beyond the scope of this report. And families whose incomes drop when they must take unpaid leave or stop working are significantly more likely to need to rely on public benefits compared with families with paid leave—creating additional costs in government spending…..

Freedom of Information Act: Litigation Costs For Justice and Agencies Could Not Be Fully Determined

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), GAO-16-667, September 8, 2016

From the summary:
Of the 1,672 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits with a decision rendered between 2009 and 2014, GAO identified 112 lawsuits where the plaintiff substantially prevailed. Litigation-related costs for these 112 lawsuits could not be fully determined. Costs associated with such lawsuits are comprised of (1) the Department of Justice’s (Justice) costs for defending the lawsuits on behalf of agencies, (2) the agencies’ respective costs for the lawsuits, and (3) any attorneys’ fees and costs as assessed by a court or based on settlement agreements awarded to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Of the 112 lawsuits, Justice provided information on its costs for defending 8 lawsuits totaling about $97,000. Justice officials stated that the department does not specifically track costs for lawsuits in which the plaintiffs substantially prevailed and that its attorneys are not required to track such costs for individual lawsuits. Regarding individual agencies, 17 of the 28 in GAO’s study had a system or process in place that enabled them to provide cost information on 57 of the 112 selected lawsuits. According to this information, the agencies incurred approximately $1.3 million in FOIA litigation-related costs for these lawsuits during fiscal years 2009 through 2014. The remaining agencies did not have a mechanism in place to track FOIA litigation-related costs where the plaintiffs prevailed. These agencies said costs were not tracked because Justice’s guidance does not require agencies to collect and report costs related to specific lawsuits, or if the plaintiff prevailed as a result of a lawsuit.

As required by FOIA, Justice has reported annually on the results of all lawsuits, including any awards of attorneys’ fees and costs to the plaintiffs. However, for 11 of the 112 selected lawsuits, Justice reported an amount of attorneys’ fees and costs awarded that differed from the amounts reported by the defending agencies. According to Justice, the differences in the award of attorney’s fees and costs were due to the appeals process and settlement agreements between the respective agencies and the plaintiffs.

Although requiring Justice and agencies to report actual cost information could lead to better transparency regarding federal operations, costs would be associated with such reporting. Considering these costs, as well as potential benefits, could help Congress in determining whether such a requirement would be cost-effective for enhancing oversight of FOIA litigation-related operations.

Long-Term Care Workforce: Better Information Needed on Nursing Assistants, Home Health Aides, and Other Direct Care Workers

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), GAO-16-718, August 16, 2016

From the summary:
Federal data sources provide a broad picture of direct care workers—nursing assistants and home health, psychiatric, and personal care aides—who provide long-term services and supports (LTSS), but limitations and gaps affect the data’s usefulness for workforce planning. Some states have collected data in areas where federal data are limited, but these have been one-time studies. Federal data show that direct care workers who provide LTSS numbered an estimated 3.27 million in 2014, or 20.8 percent of the nation’s health workforce. Federal data show that wages for direct care workers, while differing by occupation, are generally low, averaging between approximately $10 and $13 per hour in 2015. However it is unclear to what extent these wage data include direct care workers employed directly by the individuals for whom they care. The number of these workers, often referred to as independent providers, is believed to be significant and growing. Some states, in coordination with the federal government or on their own, have conducted studies about direct care workers and collected detailed information. These studies showed that a majority of independent providers worked for a family member or someone else they knew.

Highway Bridges: Linking Funding to Conditions May Help Demonstrate Impact of Federal Investment

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), GAO-16-779, September 14, 2016

From the summary:
Bridge conditions have generally improved nationwide from 2006 to 2015, based on GAO analysis of federal bridge data. For example, the percentage of structurally deficient bridge deck area (the surface area that carries vehicles) decreased from 9 percent to 7 percent nationwide during this period. The number of structurally deficient bridges also decreased from 13 percent to 10 percent nationwide. However, some states have substantially higher percentages of structurally deficient deck area than others. Bridge conditions may become more challenging to address as bridges age, because the number of bridges and amount of total deck area increased dramatically from the 1950s through the 1970s, generally with a 50-year design life. Analysis of federal bridge data shows that the amount of structurally deficient deck area is greatest for bridges built from 1960 through 1974, indicating an expected need for additional maintenance, replacement, or rehabilitation.

Federal funds obligated for bridge projects have remained relatively stable from 2006 to 2015, between $6 billion and $7 billion annually in most years. During this period, the use of federal funds on bridges shifted somewhat from building new bridges to projects that preserve existing bridges, such as bridge rehabilitation or preventative maintenance. While the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates total funds dedicated to bridges and collects data on bridge conditions nationwide, it does not track the linkage between federal funds and changes in bridge conditions. GAO has previously reported that linking performance outcomes with resources invested can help agencies to more clearly determine how changes in invested resources may result in changes to performance. Using such performance measures would help FHWA demonstrate the link between federal funding and outcomes for bridges.

Officials from the selected 24 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) reported little change in the way they have funded and managed bridges since 2012. Officials from 21 states and D.C. reported bridge funding has been stable since the federal bridge program was consolidated in 2012. Officials from 3 states reported an increase in bridge funding since that time. The general stability in bridge funding may be a result of the long time frame for planning bridge projects; for example, bridge funding cycles can be 5 years or longer, a time span that means any changes would not be apparent for several years. Officials from 10 states mentioned increased flexibility in their ability to use federal funds for bridge projects. Changes from the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act provided states flexibility to determine whether to spend federal highway funds on bridges or other highway needs. Further, officials from 18 states and D.C. reported that they have not changed how they prioritize bridge projects relative to other transportation projects. With respect to challenges, officials from 14 states described inadequate funding as a challenge, and officials from 13 states reported aging bridges as a challenge. For many of these states, the challenge of maintaining aging bridges is intertwined with the challenge of inadequate funds.