Author Archives: afscme

Persistent Gaps: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2017

Source: Karen Schulman and Helen Blank, National Women’s Law Center, October 2017

From the summary:
Child care is crucial for the well-being of parents, children, and our nation. It makes it possible for parents to work and support their families. It gives children a safe, nurturing environment to learn and develop skills they need to succeed in school and in life. And, by strengthening the current and future workforce, it bolsters our nation’s economy. Yet many families, particularly low-income families, struggle with the high cost of child care. These costs can strain families’ budgets, force parents to use lower-cost care even if they would prefer other options for their children, or prevent parents from working because they cannot afford care. Child care assistance can enable families to overcome these challenges by helping families pay for child care.

Given the importance of child care assistance to families, it is essential for states to have strong child care assistance policies. Under the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the major federal child care assistance program, states have flexibility to set policies within federal parameters. This report examines states’ policies in five key areas—income eligibility limits to qualify for child care assistance, waiting lists for child care assistance, copayments required of parents receiving child care assistance, payment rates for child care providers serving families receiving child care assistance, and eligibility for child care assistance for parents searching for a job. These policies are fundamental to determining families’ ability to obtain child care assistance and the extent of help that assistance provides.

– Families in 41 states were better off—having greater access to assistance and/or receiving greater benefits from assistance—in February 2017 than in February 2016 under one or more child care assistance policies covered in this report.
– Families in 14 states were worse off under one or more of these policies in February 2017 than in February 2016.

Although there were more improvements than cutbacks between 2016 and 2017, the improvements states made were generally modest and too small to close persistent, substantial gaps in families’ access to assistance and the level of assistance available.

Employee Contributions to Public Pension Plans

Source: National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA), Issue Brief, September 2017

From the introduction:
Unlike in the private sector, nearly all employees of state and local government are required to share in the cost of their retirement benefit. Employee contributions typically are set as a percentage of salary by statute or by the retirement board. Although investment earnings and employer contributions account for a larger portion of total public pension fund revenues, by providing a consistent and predictable stream of revenue to public pension funds, contributions from employees fill a vital role in financing pension benefits. Reforms made in the wake of the 2008-09 market decline included higher employee contribution rates in many states. This issue brief examines employee contribution plan designs, policies and recent trends.

Determinants of citizen support for community-oriented policing

Source: Heeuk D. Lee, David Kim, Youngki Woo & Bradford W. Reyns, Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, Latest Articles, Published online: October 30, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The extent to which community members are willing to cooperate with the police and become involved with various community crime prevention programs depends on citizen perceptions of the police and of the community in which they reside. The purpose of the present study is to explore factors that affect support for community policing in a small rural city. Findings revealed that the majority of respondents supported community policing. Using community survey data collected from over 400 citizens in a small metropolitan area in the intermountain West, this study also explored the importance of demographic factors, community characteristics, and public perceptions and experiences with police in predicting citizens’ support for community policing. Citizen support for community-oriented policing varied somewhat by demographic factors (i.e., gender, education), and by community characteristics (i.e., disorder, social cohesion).

Paid Family Leave, Fathers’ Leave-Taking, and Leave-Sharing in Dual-Earner Households

Source: Ann P. Bartel, Maya Rossin-Slater, Christopher J. Ruhm, Jenna Stearns, Jane Waldfogel, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Early View, November 6, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Using difference-in-difference and difference-in-difference-in-difference designs, we study California’s Paid Family Leave (CA-PFL) program, the first source of government-provided paid parental leave available to fathers in the Unites States. Relative to the pre-treatment mean, fathers of infants in California are 46 percent more likely to be on leave when CA-PFL is available. In households where both parents work, we find suggestive evidence that CA-PFL increases both father-only leave-taking (i.e., father on leave while mother is at work) and joint leave-taking (i.e., both parents on leave at the same time). Effects are larger for fathers of first-born children than for fathers of later-born children.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Public Portal

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), November 2017

From the press release:
Today the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) launched an EEOC Public Portal to provide online access to individuals inquiring about discrimination.

“This secure online system makes the EEOC and an individual’s charge information available wherever and whenever it is most convenient for that individual,” said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “It’s a giant leap forward for the EEOC in providing online services.”

The EEOC Public Portal allows individuals to submit online initial inquiries and requests for intake interviews with the agency. Initial inquiries and intake interviews are typically the first steps for individuals seeking to file a charge of discrimination with EEOC. In fiscal year 2017, the EEOC responded to over 550,000 calls to the toll-free number and more than 140,600 inquiries in field offices, reflecting the significant public demand for EEOC’s services. Handling this volume of contacts through an online system is more efficient for the public and the agency as it reduces the time and expense of paper submissions.

The new system enables individuals to digitally sign and file a charge prepared by the EEOC for them. Once an individual files a charge, he or she can use the EEOC Public Portal to provide and update contact information, agree to mediate the charge, upload documents to his or her charge file, receive documents and messages related to the charge from the agency and check on the status of his or her charge. These features are available for newly filed charges and charges that were filed on or after Jan. 1, 2016 that are in investigation or mediation.

Five EEOC offices (Charlotte, Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix and Seattle) piloted the new system for six months. Feedback from the public and the EEOC pilot offices led to improvements in the system for this nationwide launch.

The new system does not permit individuals to file charges of discrimination online that have not been prepared by the EEOC or to file complaints of discrimination against federal agencies…..

Governing Through Police? Housing Market Reliance, Welfare Retrenchment, and Police Budgeting in an Era of Declining Crime

Source: Brenden Beck, Adam Goldstein, Social Forces, Advance articles, Published: October 31, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The United States witnessed a dramatic expansion of the penal state from the 1970s to the Great Recession of 2008. One key puzzle is why penal state growth continued unabated long after crime levels peaked in the early 1990s. We focus on local policing and consider the relationship between growing city-level law enforcement expenditures and two shifts: first, the move toward an economy increasingly organized around residential real estate; and second, city-level welfare retrenchment. We argue that increasing economic reliance on housing price appreciation during the late 1990s and the 2000s heightened demand for expanded law enforcement even as actual risks of crime victimization fell. At the same time, cities increasingly addressed social problems through criminal justice—rather than social service—capacities. We assess these arguments using a dataset of 171 cities’ police expenditures between 1992 and 2010. Results of a dynamic panel model indicate that places with more pronounced reliance on housing price growth and mortgage investment exhibited correspondingly greater growth of local law enforcement, as did places with decreased social service spending.

What Does Telecommuting’s Rise Mean for Traffic and Transit?

Source: Mike Maciag, Governing, October 30, 2017

…. Americans primarily working from home recorded its largest ever year-over-year increase in 2016, climbing to 5 percent of the workforce. Using the Census estimates, we compared each metro area’s average share of workers telecommuting in 2015 and 2016 with averages for 2006 and 2007. In 186 of the 252 areas with comparable data, the share increased. If this trend continues, Americans working from home will soon overtake the share of people who use public transportation, as it already has in many regions. The slow but steady shift carries numerous potential implications for transportation systems…..

Medicaid and Financial Health

Source: Kenneth Brevoort, Daniel Grodzicki, Martin B. Hackmann, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. 24002, November 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This paper investigates the effects of the Medicaid expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on households’ financial health. Our findings indicate that, in addition to reducing the incidence of unpaid medical bills, the reform provided substantial indirect financial benefits to households. Using a nationally representative panel of 5 million credit records, we find that the expansion reduced unpaid medical bills sent to collection by $3.4 billion in its first two years, prevented new delinquencies, and improved credit scores. Using data on credit offers and pricing, we document that improvements in households’ financial health led to better terms for available credit valued at $520 million per year. We calculate that the financial benefits of Medicaid double when considering these indirect benefits in addition to the direct reduction in out-of-pocket expenditures.

A Vision for a High-Wage America

Source: Michael McCormack and Jeff Madrick, The Century Foundation, October 16, 2017
From the summary:
America has deliberately chosen to be a low-wage society since the 1970s. This status was not thrust upon it inevitably by technological change or globalization, but instead was the result of deliberate policy choices made over the years. America likewise has the ability to reverse course, pursuing a policy agenda that would put it back on the path toward a high-wage economy. ….

…. This report provides an overview of the current state of the U.S. economy, characterized by a sluggish recovery, stagnant living standards, inequality, increasingly volatile and uncertain incomes, especially for low-income Americans, persistent poverty, and declining benefits. Our review below of the economic data and literature will demonstrate the persistence of reduced opportunity and a low-wage America for millions since the 1970s.

The report also explores the deliberate policy choices that led to the low-wage economy that developed in the late 1970s and was solidified by the 1980s and 1990s. There was only a brief reprieve during the full-employment economy of the late 1990s, when wage growth lifted wages for all income levels; even during this time, anti-inflationary monetary policy reduced the bargaining power of workers relative to capital.

After reviewing the political and academic influences that created a low-wage America, the report proposes alternative policy choices to build a high-wage America that extends prosperity to a broader range of workers. The three main pillars of a high-wage economy identified in this report—public investment and industrial policy, education and training, and labor standards and social supports—will guide the Rediscovering Government Initiative’s research and event agendas in the coming months, as it seeks to build an agenda that can return American workers to prosperity…..

What You Should Know

  • Between 1973 and 2015, productivity increased by 73.4 percent, but hourly compensation increased by only 11.1 percent. And that meager wage growth has happened mostly at the top of the income scale. Since the late 1970s, wage growth has stopped for the eightieth percentile of earners on down, and for much of the wage distribution, earnings have actually fallen.
  • Deliberate policy choices since the 1970s have contributed to this wage stagnation, including the attack on labor unions, cuts to social programs, tight monetary policy, tax cuts and free-market economic policies.
  • U.S. manufacturing work is particularly underpaid when compared to other nations. Manufacturing workers in the United States ranked eighteenth out of twenty-seven OECD nations with available data.
    The high-wage agenda requires new approaches to directly confront underemployment and unemployment that may include government acting as an employer of last resort and support for labor organizing, which is now actively thwarted.
  • Rebuilding the nation’s apprenticeship system that still only reaches less than half a million workers, and translating promising high school career academies into respected vocational and career education system that, among other things, can create inclusive access to well-paid skilled blue collar jobs.