Source: Jennifer S. Vey, The Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Project, 2007
With over 16 million people and nearly 8.6 million jobs, America’s older industrial cities remain a vital-if undervalued-part of the economy, particularly in states where they are heavily concentrated, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. They also have a range of other physical, economic, and cultural assets that, if fully leveraged, can serve as a platform for their renewal.
Across the country, cities today are becoming more attractive to certain segments of society. Meanwhile, economic trends-globalization, the demand for educated workers, the increasing role of universities-are providing cities with an unprecedented chance to capitalize upon their economic advantages and regain their competitive edge.
Many cities have exploited these assets to their advantage; the moment is ripe for older industrial cities to follow suit. But to do so, these cities need thoughtful and broad-based approaches to foster prosperity.
“Restoring Prosperity” aims to mobilize governors and legislative leaders, as well as local constituencies, behind an asset-oriented agenda for reinvigorating the market in the nation’s older industrial cities. The report begins with identifications and descriptions of these cities-and the economic, demographic, and policy “drivers” behind their current condition-then makes a case for why the moment is ripe for advancing urban reform, and offers a five-part agenda and organizing plan to achieve it.
Source: Andrea Martinez, Fedgazette, Vol. 19 no. 2, March 2007
Government fees are on the rise at both state and local levels.
The theme of these rising expenses is that they are all government fees. While fees don’t have the scale or the visibility of taxes, their presence and overall cost have been on a steady incline. And if you’re a user of these services, you can no more avoid these price hikes than you could the tax man.
Source: PA Times, Vol. 30 no. 3, March 2007
Evanston, IL-Public libraries build a community’s capacity for economic activity and resiliency, says a new study from the “Urban Institute. Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development” adds to the body of research pointing to a shift in the role of public libraries-from a passive, recreational reading and research institution to an active economic development agent, addressing such pressing urban issues as literacy, workforce training, small business vitality and community quality of life. The study was commissioned by the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
Source: Carl Tubbesing and Vic Miller, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 4, April 2007
Fiscal relations between the states and federal government may be at an all-time low.
For two decades, unfunded federal mandates have symbolized the growing fracture in state-federal fiscal relations. Most legislators can readily name the current offenders—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, No Child Left Behind, the Help America Vote Act and homeland security. And they are girding for the possibility of the next huge one, the Real ID act. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that the federal government has shifted $100 billion in costs to states over the past four fiscal years—not including the $11 billion that Real ID could cost states over the next five years
Source: Iris J. Law, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 6, 2007
Grants to state and local governments have long been an important way in which the federal government supports and administers programs efficiently. The new budget, however, continues to significantly erode those grants. This leaves states and localities the option of either curtailing services or increasing their own taxes to compensate for declining federal funds.
Source: Amy Ellen Schwartz, Leanna Stiefel, Ross Rubenstein, Symposium on Education Finance and Organization Structure in NYS Schools, Albany, NY, March 2004
From the abstract:
This paper explores the determinants of resource allocation across schools in large districts and examines options for improving resource distribution patterns. Previous research on intra-district allocations consistently reveals resource disparities across schools within districts, particularly in the distribution of teachers. While overall expenditures are sometimes related to the characteristics of students in schools, the ratio of teachers per pupil is consistently larger in high poverty, high-minority and low-performing schools. These teachers, though, generally have lower experience and education levels — and consequently, lower salaries — as compared to teachers in more advantaged schools. We explore these patterns in New York City, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio by estimating de facto expenditure equations relating resource measures to school and student characteristics. Consistent with previous research, we find schools that have higher percentages of poor pupils receive more money and have more teachers per pupil, but the teachers tend to be less educated and less well paid, with a particularly consistent pattern in New York City schools. The paper concludes with policy options for changing intra-district resource distributions in order to promote more efficient, more equitable or more effective use of resources. These options include allocating dollars rather than teacher positions to schools, providing teacher pay differentials in hard-to-staff schools and subjects, and adapting current district-based funding formulas to the school (and student) level.