Category Archives: State & Local Finance

$60 Million and Counting: The cost of vacant and abandoned properties to eight Ohio cities

Source: Community Research Partners and Rebuild Ohio, February 2008

The debilitating effects of vacant and abandoned properties are evident in neighborhoods and communities throughout Ohio and the nation, and the recent foreclosure epidemic has made the issue of vacant properties a top news story and catapulted it to the top of public policy agendas. However, this is a long-standing problem in older and central city housing markets, where the issues of predatory and subprime lending and vacant and abandoned housing have existed for many years.

This research documents the magnitude and cost of the vacant and abandoned properties problem in eight Ohio cities: Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Ironton, Lima, Springfield, Toledo, Zanesville. The research found:

– 25,000 vacant and abandoned properties

– Widespread vacancies in both large and small cities

– $15 million in annual city service costs

– $49 million in cumulative lost property tax revenues to local governments and school districts

– Weakened neighborhood housing markets with evidence of property flipping

– Limited capacity of cities, on their own, to track and address vacant and abandoned properties

The State of Preschool 2007

Source: National Institute for Early Education Research

From press release (Pew Charitable Trusts):

State-funded preschools served over one million children last year, yet public pre-K was unavailable for most 3- and 4-year-olds, according to the annual survey released today by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

Funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The State of Preschool 2007 ranks all 50 states on the percentage of children served and spending per child. It also compares the number of quality benchmarks each state meets for the 2006-2007 school year. The survey found that enrollment, quality and state spending per child increased.

Yet, 12 states offered no state-funded preschool education and others faltered in their commitment to the quality of their early education programs. The report showed that nationally less than half of all 4-year-olds were enrolled in government-supported preschool education programs and one quarter received no preschool. For 3-year-olds the situation was worse, with only 15 percent enrolled in public programs and 50 percent receiving no early education.

Children from wealthy families can attend expensive private preschools while the federal Head Start program and most state-funded preschool education is targeted at lower income families.

Full Report (PDF; 8.4 MB)

State Profiles (PDFs)

Special Series: Dealing with Deficits: How States Can Respond

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 2008

The Center analyzes state budget issues including multi-state trends, the adequacy and equity of tax policies, structural budget issues, and budget transparency.

Series includes:

Policy Points: Four Helpful Hints for States Dealing With Deficits
Fiscal Stimulus at the State Level?
Income Tax Surcharges Can Help States Close Budget Gaps
It’s Time for Many States To Use Their Rainy Day Funds
▪ and more.

The Administration’s Medicaid Regulations: State-By-State Impacts

Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, March 2008

From the press release:
Although Medicaid is the largest health care program operated by the states, the Administration has failed to provide any estimates of the state-specific impacts of its regulations. After several unsuccessful attempts by the Committee to obtain these important state estimates from CMS, the Committee requested an analysis from Medicaid State Directors on the impact of the CMS regulations on their state.

The report finds that the state estimates of the fiscal impact of the CMS regulations are significantly higher than the $15 billion impact projected by the Administration for next five years. States estimated that the regulations would reduce federal payments to them by nearly $50 billion over the next five years, more than three times the Administration’s estimate.

The large discrepancy between the state estimates and the CMS estimates is evidence that the regulations are likely to have a much larger fiscal and programmatic impact on state Medicaid programs and state budgets than people realize.

Summaries of State Responses
Interactive Map
Response from Center for Medicaid and State Operations

Grading the States 2008: A Management Report Card

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing Magazine, March 2008

Information is king. No single idea emerges more clearly from year-long research done for the 2008 Government Performance Project. As always, this report focuses on four fundamental areas of government management: Information, People, Money and Infrastructure. But this year, the elements that make up the information category — planning, goal-setting, measuring performance, disseminating data and evaluating progress — overlap with the other three fields to a greater degree than ever before. Information elements, in short, are key to how a state takes care of its infrastructure, plans for its financial future and deals with the dramatic changes affecting the state workforce.

Get individual state report cards via dropdown menu.

See also:
Pew Center on the States

Financing Transportation in the 21st Century – An Intergovernmental Perspective

Source: Intergovernmental Forum on Transportation Finance, January 2008

From the press release:
WASHINGTON, March 12 —
The gap between America’s surface transportation needs and the financial resources required to bridge them is large, immediate and long-term, according to a report released by state and local government groups. All levels of government must work together to set system-performance goals and provide the financial means to meet those goals, the report concluded.

Burgeoning Prison Populations Strain State Budgets

Source: Liana Fox, Economic Policy Institute, Snapshot, March 12, 2008

A recent study released by the Pew Center on the States examines the rapid growth of the U.S. prison population, which has tripled over the past 20 years. The United States now holds the distinction of imprisoning more of its own citizens, both in total number and share of the adult population, than any other country in the world. In 2007, the United States had a record-breaking one out of every 100 adults in prison. Policy changes in sentencing and parole revocation, rather than increases in crime, have largely driven the increase in incarceration rates.

Governments’ Financial Reporting Not Open Enough, Survey Shows

Source: American City & County, February 21, 2008

State and local governments are “under-delivering” open and honest information about spending practices to the public, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Alexandria, Va.-based Association of Government Accountants (AGA). However, the survey found that respondents were most disappointed with the federal government’s financial reporting practices.

Verbatim Survey Results

Using Income Taxes To Address State Budget Shortfalls

Source: Elizabeth McNichol and Andrew Nicholas, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 21, 2008

States are on the brink of their worst fiscal problems since the 2001 recession. At least half the states are anticipating budget shortfalls for next year (fiscal year 2009). For those states that have estimated the size of the gap, estimated deficits range from $34 billion to $38 billion in total. Among affected states, these deficits represent between 8 percent and 9 percent of total state expenditures.