Category Archives: Finance

The Role of Constituency, Party, and Industry in Pennsylvania’s Act 13

Source: Bradford H. Bishop, Mark R. Dudley, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, OnlineFirst, First Published December 1, 2016
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From the abstract:
While a large body of research exists regarding the role of industry money on roll-call voting in the U.S. Congress, there is surprisingly little scholarship pertaining to industry influence on state politics. This study fills this void in an analysis of campaign donations and voting during passage of Act 13 in Pennsylvania during 2011 and 2012. After collecting information about natural gas production in state legislative districts, we estimate a series of multivariate models aimed at uncovering whether campaign donations contributed to a more favorable policy outcome for industry. Our findings indicate that campaign donations played a small but systematic role in consideration of the controversial legislation, which represented one of the first and most important state-level regulatory reforms for the hydraulic fracturing industry.

Refinanciang Student Loans

Source: Dustin Weeden, LegisBrief, Vol. 25 no. 8, February 2017

Increasing numbers of students are borrowing money to pay for higher education, incurring historically high levels of debt. Policymakers are concerned about the amount students are borrowing, their ability to repay, and the broader economic impacts of student debt. Refinancing existing loans at lower interest rates is one solution, and at least 12 states currently operate their own refinancing programs for students.

Rising Economic Inequality and Campaign Contributions from Very Wealthy Americans

Source: Adam Bonica, Stanford University and Howard Rosenthal, Scholars Strategy Network, Key Findings, November 2016

From the introduction:
…..In our research, we explore the relationship between wealth disparities and campaign contributions, documenting the growing concentration of campaign contributions among a small sliver of very wealthy U.S. donors. Despite an explosion in the number of citizens donating to campaigns in recent decades, we find that in recent decades the total share of campaign contributions has risen sharply from the wealthiest donors, the top 1% of the 1% of the voting age population. Mass participation has failed to counterbalance this trend.

Although recent changes to the legal and regulatory environment have contributed to the trend, they are at best a partial explanation. Contributions were becoming more concentrated long before the 2010 Citizens United and the 2014 McCutcheon cases were decided by the Supreme Court. To fully make sense of the rise of big money, its causes and consequences, we must examine broader economic trends and understand how the political behavior of the super rich has changed over time. Our research examines donation patterns of the super-rich – and explores their broader implications…..

Pro-Trump Group Blew by Basic Campaign Finance Laws

Source: Robert Faturechi and Derek Willis ProPublica, December 9, 2016

The America Comes First PAC did not disclose its donors before Election Day. And its top funder is banned from the securities industry. ….

….As federal regulators continued to wait for the required disclosures, the group posted a photo two days after the election showing Trump meeting with America Comes First secretary David Schamens. It wasn’t until this week that the group finally began filing the disclosure forms. The filings show that the bulk of individual donations to the group came from Schamens. In the early 1990s, Schamens was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of securities fraud. In a settlement, he did not admit to the allegations but agreed to be barred from associating with investment companies or securities brokers. Schamens currently is director of a New Jersey technology company that caters to financial institutions and securities traders……

Dark Money

Source: OpenSecrets.org, 2016

Dark Money Groups spend millions influencing our elections without reporting where the money came from. Learn more about their growing influence below. ….

From the blog post:
…. OpenSecrets.org is excited to announce a major new expansion of DarkMoney.org to better help journalists, watchdogs and the public track the IRS forms of thousands of groups and see how what appears on those filings meshes with what actually happened in the 2016 election cycle. This new, vastly larger set of tools adds to the suite of functions and information already available on the site.

Beginning today, OpenSecrets is providing downloadable financial information for over 20,000 nonprofit organizations — up from less than 500 — in the largest, cleanest and most detailed free resource for people researching the activities and networks of non-charity nonprofits and dark money organizations. Getting the data previously had been a difficult, very 20th-century process: We had to manually collect the 990 reports directly from the groups themselves, or get them in costly, convoluted batches from the IRS. Now, thanks to a generous grant from the Knight Foundation and additional funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, we have integrated digitized data on organizations, provided by Guidestar, with the rest of OpenSecrets’ data resources.

For the first time, visitors to OpenSecrets can see all grants made by 501(c)4, 501(c)5 and 501(c)6 organizations. If a grant was made to another politically active nonprofit – transfers between groups are common – visitors can easily see that group’s financial information, too, as well as whether it spends money on political activity.

This information goes far beyond other data sets made public to this point. The IRS’s own e-file data, released over the summer, is messier and less comprehensive. The new OpenSecrets.org data set uniquely does not depend on a group having electronically filed its tax returns with the IRS or having received approval as tax-exempt from the agency; all filings are there, with digitized, standardized data. Where applicable, the data has been matched with Federal Election Commission filings showing political activity, going back years further than the IRS e-file data. ….

Trends in College Pricing 2016

Source: The College Board, 2016

From the summary:
Trends in College Pricing provides information on changes over time in undergraduate tuition and fees, room and board, and other estimated expenses related to attending colleges and universities. The report, which includes data through 2016-17 from the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges, reveals the wide variation in prices charged by institutions of different types and in different parts of the country. Of particular importance is the focus on the net prices students actually pay after taking grant aid into consideration. Data on institutional revenues and expenditures and on changing enrollment patterns over time supplement the data on prices to provide a clearer picture of the circumstances of students and the institutions in which they study.
Related:
Download Excel Data
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Waiting for the Payoff: How Low Wages and Student Debt Keep Prosperity Out of Reach

Source: Allyson Fredericksen, People’s Action Institute, Job Gap Economic Prosperity series, People’s Action Institute, October 2016

From the summary:
Education is often lauded as the great equalizer and a solution to the growing income gap. But, as the cost of college breaks family budgets and requires students to take out thousands of dollars in educational loans, wages, even for those with a degree, have not kept pace, and have even declined in many occupations.

Though campaigns to increase the minimum wage have been won in cities and states across the country, current minimum wage rates do not provide a living wage for even a single adult. Research on living wage rates produced by People’s Action Institute shows that, nationally, a living wage for a single adult is $17.28 per hour. For those with student debt, that living wage rises to $18.67 per hour.

Increasing the minimum wage to a living wage and abolishing the tipped subminimum wage will help more workers make ends meet, but student debt forgiveness is also vital. And, because systemic barriers mean women and people of color are disproportionately impacted by low wages and student debt, more must be done to strengthen and enforce equal opportunity statutes.

At a minimum, working full-time should ensure financial stability, including the ability to pay off student loan debt. It’s time for elected officials to take action to make that a reality.
Table 1: Single Adult Living Wage vs Minimum Wage by State
Table 2: Median Student Debt and Monthly Payment for Graduates by State
Table 3: Traditional Single Adult Living Wage vs Student Debt Living Wage by State
Related:
Executive summary

Student Debt May Be Contributing to Racial Inequality

Source: Shahien Nasiripour, Bloomberg, October 24, 2016

Black college grads owe more on their student loans while being paid less than their white counterparts.
Related:
Black-white disparity in student loan debt more than triples after graduation
Source: Judith Scott-Clayton and Jing Li, Brookings Institution, Evidence Speaks Reports, Vol 2 #3, October 20, 2016

The moment they earn their bachelor’s degrees, black college graduates owe $7,400 more on average than their white peers ($23,400 versus $16,000, including non-borrowers in the averages). But over the next few years, the black-white debt gap more than triples to a whopping $25,000. Differences in interest accrual and graduate school borrowing lead to black graduates holding nearly $53,000 in student loan debt four years after graduation—almost twice as much as their white counterparts. While previous work has documented racial disparities in student borrowing, delinquencies, and defaults, in this report we provide new evidence that racial gaps in total debt are far larger than even recent reports have recognized, far larger now than in the past, and correlated with troubling trends in the economy and in the for-profit sector. We conclude with a discussion of policy implications. Black-white disparity in student loan debt more than triples after graduation.

Project on Student Debt – State by State Data

Source: Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), 2016

Seven in 10 seniors (68%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2015 had student loan debt, with an average of $30,100 per borrower. This represents a 4% increase from the average debt of 2014 graduates.

National, state, and college data on student debt from federal and private loans can be found in the full report. For more details, click on the map and other links on this page…..