Category Archives: State & Local Finance

The impact of transaction costs on the use of mixed service delivery by local governments

Source: Trevor L Brown, Matthew Potoski, David M Van Slyke, Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation, vol. 1 no. 4, December 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
When governments deliver services through mixed delivery arrangements, the sponsoring government and an implementing partner split or share service production, delivery, or management responsibilities. By combining aspects of contract and direct service delivery, mixed service delivery may combine the benefits of contracting with those of direct service delivery. Analyses of 87,009 services delivered by 2174 local governments in the USA shows that over 20% of local government services are delivered through approaches that mix elements of direct and contract production. Local governments choose mixed approaches in response to the transaction cost and market factors that affect their choice of direct and contract approaches. Mixed service delivery may provide the opportunity to harness the upsides of both contract and direct delivery approaches. If conditions are favorable, mixed service delivery allows governments to simultaneously evaluate alternative suppliers while maintaining a degree of their own internal production capacity.

Protecting the Vulnerable or Ripe for Reform? State Income Tax Breaks for the Elderly—Then and Now

Source: Ben Brewer, Karen Smith Conway, Jonathan C. Rork, Public Finance Review, Published online before print September 9, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
State governments have a long history of providing income tax relief to their elderly constituents. Our research investigates the current distributional and revenue effects of these tax breaks, as well as the economic status of the elderly, and explores how these measures have changed since 1990. Using data from the 1990 Integrated Public Use Microdata Series and the 2013 American Community Survey, combined with the TAXSIM calculator, we calculate current state income tax liabilities and revenues and simulate the effects of removing all age-related tax breaks. Our analyses reveal that the economic well-being of the elderly has grown substantially relative to the nonelderly and that state tax breaks primarily benefit the middle- and upper-income elderly. Revenue costs of these tax breaks have also grown substantially, and their modest and mixed effects on income equality, measured by changes in the Gini, cast doubt on equity as a justification.

Public Pensions Work – And These Three Systems Prove It

Source: Tyler Bond, National Public Pension Coalition, September 7, 2016

….NPPC released a new report this week. Public Pensions Work – And These Three System Prove It examines three of the more successful public pension systems in the country to find the keys to their success. It turns out that their success is no secret: fully funding the pension system every year is the most important thing state and local governments can do to have a successful public pension system. Y….

Summary of State Matching and MOE Requirements

Source: Federal Funds Information for States (FFIS), Special Analysis 16-03, September 9, 2016
(subscription required)

From the summary:
The federal government is providing state and local governments with nearly $729 billion in federal funds in fiscal year (FY) 2016. However, most of these funds come with strings attached. Many federal grant programs require states to contribute their own funds to the cost of a program, through matching or maintenance-of-effort (MOE) requirements. This Special Analysis provides a summary of programs with state matching or MOE requirements, based on the FFIS grants database.

CTHRU Open Records Platform

Source: The Office of the Comptroller, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2016

CTHRU is designed to provide an intuitive experience for exploring where our tax dollars are utilized and is available 24/7. The visualizations and tables are all highly interactive and we invite you to explore. As stewards of the Commonwealth’s financial data, the Office of the Comptroller is committed to expanding transparency in the utilization of public funds and we hope you will agree that this is a great step in that direction – please visit often as we expand the system in the coming months.

The Office of the Comptroller is a uniquely independent and apolitical overseer of more than $60 billion in governmental and other funding sources annually. In addition, the Comptroller oversees the Commonwealth’s expenditure and payroll management and major audit functions ensuring security, transparency, accountability, and service delivery across all branches of state government.
New website will detail state payroll, spending data
Source: David Scharfenberg, Boston Globe, September 7, 2016

Smart Skills versus Mindless Megadeals: Cost-Effective Workforce Development versus Costly “Buffalo Hunting,” with Proven Policy Solutions

Source: Thomas Cafcas and Greg LeRoy, Good Jobs First, September 2016

From the abstract:
Using data from dozens of programs and deals in Good Jobs First’s Subsidy Tracker database, we draw sharp comparisons between the costs of workforce development programs versus company-specific “megadeals.” Whereas 31 out of 33 training programs have four-figure costs per job, our current megadeals database shows an average cost to taxpayers of more than $658,000 per job.
Press release

State Revenues From Gambling: Short-Term Relief, Long-Term Disappointment

Source: Lucy Dadayan, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, Blinken Report, April 2016

States turning to gambling as a quick fix for revenue woes have been disappointed with the results, according to a new study from the Rockefeller Institute. The study warns that “State officials considering expansion of existing gambling activities or legalization of new activities should weigh the pros and cons carefully.”
Press Release

State Revenues from Gambling
Source: Lucy Dadayan, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, presentation at the CSG/ERC 56th Annual Meeting & Regional Policy Forum Quebec City, QC, August 9, 2016

Tolling U.S. Highways

Source: Robert S. Kirk, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R43575, August 26, 2016

…..Although states are free to impose tolls on roads, bridges, and tunnels that have been built and maintained without federal assistance, federal law limits the imposition of tolls on existing federal-aid highways, especially on the Interstate Highways. This report explains current federal policies governing tolling and discusses issues related to increasing the use of tolls as a source of revenue for surface transportation projects….