Author Archives: afscme

Between A Budget And A Hard Place: The Risks Of Deferring Maintenance For U.S. Infrastructure

Source: Anne Selting, S&P Global Ratings, May 15, 2018
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State and local governments are deferring maintenance on critical infrastructure assets they own and operate. Due to a lack of standardized reporting, it’s difficult to quantify the extent of the maintenance backlog, but it could be significant. ….

Assessing The Value Of 40 Years Of Local Public Expenditures On Health

Source: Jonathon P. Leider, Natalia Alfonso, Beth Resnick, Eoghan Brady, J. Mac McCullough, and David Bishai, Health Affairs, Vol. 37 no. 4, 2018
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From the abstract:
The US public and private sectors now spend more than $3 trillion on health each year. While critical studies have examined the relationship between public spending on health and health outcomes, relatively little is known about the impact of broader public-sector spending on health. Using county-level public finance data for the period 1972–2012, we estimated the impact of local public hospital spending and nonhospital health spending on all-cause mortality in the county. Overall, a 10 percent increase in nonhospital health spending was associated with a 0.006 percent decrease in all-cause mortality one year after the initial spending. This effect was larger and significant in counties with greater proportions of racial/ethnic minorities. Our results indicate that county nonhospital health spending has health benefits that can help reduce costs and improve health outcomes in localities across the nation, though greater focus on population-oriented services may be warranted.

Affordable Care Act’s Cadillac Tax Could Affect One-Fourth Of Workers With Employer Health Coverage By 2025

Source: Mark J. Warshawsky and Michael Leahy, Health Affairs, Vol. 37 no. 4, April 2018
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From the abstract:
The excise tax on high-cost health insurance plans (known as the Cadillac tax) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is an important part of the law’s attempt to control rising health care costs. Analysts using different data sources have come to divergent estimates of how many people would be affected by this tax. We used the National Compensation Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is better suited to this analysis because of its law-relevant details on employer-provided health benefits. Our research clarifies an important area of empirical uncertainty, thereby informing the debate about the ACA and its proposed replacements. Our base estimate of impact, 12 percent of workers participating in employer-provided health plans in 2020, lies in the middle of other estimates, but it is considerably more comprehensive, accurate, and delineated by worker characteristics (region, number of employees at the firm, industry, occupation, and so on) than others. Workers affected at the highest rate include those in education occupations and high-income workers, while those in industries involving manual labor and public safety are affected at some of the lowest rates.

United Way ALICE Project

Source: United Way, 2018

The United Way ALICE Project provides a framework, language, and tools to measure and understand the struggles of the growing number of households in our communities that do not earn enough to afford basic necessities, a population called ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).

Scroll down to view the percent of households in each state – and county – that lived below the ALICE Threshold in 2016. The ALICE Threshold is the bare-minimum economic survival level that is based on the local cost of living in each area.

Hover over the U.S. map below to view state data, click on any state to see a county-by-county analysis of financial instability, and scroll further to compare all states.

Social Security and Saving: An Update

Source: Sita Slavov, Devon Gorry, Aspen Gorry, Frank N. Caliendo, Public Finance Review, First Published May 2, 2018
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From the abstract:
Typical neoclassical life-cycle models predict that Social Security has a large and negative effect on private savings. We review this theoretical literature by constructing a model where individuals face uninsurable longevity risk and differ by wage earnings, while Social Security provides benefits as a life annuity with higher replacement rates for the poor. We use the model to generate numerical examples that confirm the standard result. Using several benefit and tax changes from the 1970s and 1980s as natural experiments, we investigate the empirical relationship between Social Security and private savings and find little evidence to support the predictions from the theoretical model. We explore possible reasons for the lack of strong empirical findings.

Steward’s Corner: Legal Rights in a Contract Campaign

Source: Robert M. Schwartz, Labor Notes, May 16, 2018

In today’s dysfunctional economic climate, straightforward bargaining frequently comes up empty.

Employers come to the table with lengthy lists of takeaways and refuse to compromise. Claiming impasse at the earliest opportunity, they threaten to carry out their final offer or impose a lockout. To cope with these realities many unions are turning to militant contract campaigns. Creative and aggressive tactics can demonstrate members’ solidarity, resolve, and willingness to act…..

Debate: How Should Unions Deal With Free Riders?

Source: Labor Notes, May 4, 2018

…. In a right-to-work setting, workers have the option to be free riders, receiving the benefits of unionization without paying membership dues or fees. Yet the duty of fair representation requires the union to represent everyone in the bargaining unit, even non-members. This duty arises from a union being the exclusive representative of a group of workers—no other union or organization can speak for them.

Those are the rules in the private sector, anyway. In the public sector, certain states already allow some form of “members-only unions.” In Florida, for instance, public sector unions are not obliged to represent non-members in grievances. The same is true for teacher unions in Tennessee, where multiple organizations compete to represent teachers in the same workplace.

The anticipated Janus decision has sparked a debate. Should public sector unions try to get “members-only” laws passed? Where such laws are in place, should unions really stop representing non-members?

These questions aren’t hypothetical. In April, New York state passed a law, backed by the AFL-CIO, that public sector unions no longer have to provide representation to non-members in disciplinary hearings, grievances, or arbitrations.

Meanwhile national anti-union groups are promoting a similar idea for their own reasons. Below are links to several perspectives Labor Notes readers sent in. ….

Chris Brooks: Don’t Fall for the Members-Only Unionism Trap
Steve Downs: Don’t Rule Out Giving Up Exclusive Representation
Jonathan Kissam: Unions Are Class Organizations, and Should Act Like It
Marian Swerdlow: To Thrive after Janus, Deeper Changes Are Needed
Les Caulford: An Injury to the Contract Is an Injury to All
Bruce Nissen: How One Union’s Image Got an Upgrade

Mapping State Interference

Source: Partnership for Working Families, 2018

What is State Interference? While attention focuses on Washington, aggressive corporate and special interests are systematically working at the state level to close critical avenues of power-building for poor people, people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, and immigrants. Their strategy: targeting local governments, which provide essential hubs of innovation, protection and progressive political power. The Koch Brothers-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the architect of this strategy, has moved state legislators and courts to gut the ability of local governments in a vast number of states to alleviate unemployment, poverty and residential displacement and to protect their residents from threats to their health, safety and civil rights. In many cases such state interference laws are being used as a tool through which largely white state legislatures both deny cities of color of self-determination and preserve longstanding racial inequities.

To help shed light on this development, we created the interactive map below. Click on any of the nine issues to see which states block local standards and laws on that issue. Click on a state to see whether local authority has been preserved or preempted across all nine issues. For further information, you can click through to the actual text of the statute.

Our partners at Grassroots Change have a companion map that covers issues related to public health. Please visit that site to learn more.

Tending to the Nest Egg: Plan Could Help Nonprofit Workers Build Retirement Security

Source: Monique Ching, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, May 17, 2018

Many Massachusetts workers are unable to save enough money for themselves to retire on. This is partly because setting up and managing retirement plans is often too expensive for small and employers. In late 2017, Massachusetts launched a state-administered 401(k) plan that can begin to address some of these challenges. Small nonprofits, with 20 employees or fewer, can participate in the plan.