Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure depicts the condition and performance of American infrastructure in the familiar form of a school report card—assigning letter grades based on the physical condition and needed investments for improvement.
New research shows how brake and tire dust—a cloud of tiny metal particles—could wreak havoc on respiratory health. Metals from brakes and other automotive systems enter the air as fine particles, lingering over busy roadways. Although tailpipe emissions may fall as more zero-emission vehicles hit the streets, brake and tire dust, a major source of highway air pollution, shows no signs of abating. In the journal Environmental Science & Technology, researchers describe how vehicle-emitted metals such as copper, iron, and manganese interact with acidic sulfate-rich particles already in the air to produce a toxic aerosol….
Highly Acidic Ambient Particles, Soluble Metals, and Oxidative Potential: A Link between Sulfate and Aerosol Toxicity
Ting Fang, Hongyu Guo, Linghan Zeng, Vishal Verma, Athanasios Nenes, Rodney J. Weber, Environmental Science & Technology, Article ASAP, Web Publication Date January 31, 2017
Laws and programs designed to benefit vulnerable groups, such as the disabled or people of color, often end up benefiting all of society
Source: Eileen Houlihan, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), 2017
From the press release:
– List includes: Brooklyn & Throgs Neck (N.Y.), Yankee Doodle (Conn.), Memorial (Va.-DC) and Greensboro (N.C.) Bridges.
– 1,900 structurally deficient bridges are on the Interstate Highway System.
– Average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 67 years old, compared to 39 years for non-deficient bridges.
– 41% of U.S. bridges (250,406) are over 40 years old and have not had major reconstruction work.
– Website features listing of deficient bridges by state and congressional district.
Source: Urban Institute, 2017
[tool was funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation]
State and local governments educate schoolchildren, train the future workforce, care for the sick and elderly, build roads, patrol neighborhoods, extinguish fires, and maintain parks. In short, they’re pretty important. But few Americans understand where their state and local tax dollars go and to what effect. It’s not just the amount of money spent that matters, it’s why that money is spent the way it is.
Through this web tool, we aim to fill that knowledge gap. The tool allows users to get under the hood of their government and understand not only how much a state spends but also what drives that spending.
To do this, we apply a basic framework to all major areas of government spending. The framework says that state spending per capita is both a function of how many people receive a service and how much that service costs the state for each recipient. ….
…In this tool, you’ll see the spending per capita breakdown for all states and the District of Columbia across all major functional categories. It allows you to see how each state ranks, and you can sort by any factor you choose. (One frequent outlier is DC; though included in the rankings, it often functions more like a city than a state) We’ve included some annotations to guide you along the way. By exploring the tool, you’ll gain a sense of how much each state spends on any given area and why states spend what they do. ….
From the summary:
Local governments play a key role in funding, operating, and maintaining local roads, bridges, airports, transit facilities, drinking water, sewer systems, and other types of infrastructure. Yet, as is widely publicized, these jurisdictions face a serious infrastructure deficit. While municipal bonds continue to be the key options for how local infrastructure is financed, local governments are exploring new ways to finance needed expansion, upgrades, and repairs.
According to a new white paper, “Infrastructure Financing: A Guide for Local Government Managers,” issued by ICMA and the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), alternative financing sources, properly selected and managed, can complement traditional sources to meet infrastructure needs. Tapping these sources not only leverages new resources, but also can make it possible to complete certain projects more quickly.
Across the United States, local governments face a serious infrastructure deficit and are exploring new ways to finance needed expansions, upgrades, and repairs. Despite the fact that eroding infrastructure is seen as one of the most urgent issues facing the country, in 2012, infrastructure funding was at its lowest percentage of total local government expenditures in more than 50 years.
Prepared by Drs. Can Chen of Florida International University and John R. Bartle of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the white paper explores how local governments are addressing the challenge of bridging infrastructure financing gaps. In this context, they:
– Describe the full range of infrastructure financing methods currently in use.
– Document emerging methods in local infrastructure financing.
– Illustrate cases where local governments have explored alternative methods of infrastructure financing.
– Offer recommendations for local government managers who are considering the use of alternative infrastructure financing options.
This annual report examines spending in the functional areas of state budgets: elementary and secondary education, higher education, public assistance, Medicaid, corrections, transportation, and all other. It also includes data on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and on revenue sources in state general funds.
– The total state spending growth rate slowed in fiscal 2016, following a 10-year high in fiscal 2015.
– Medicaid continued to increase as a share of total state spending, while K-12 remained the largest category from state funds.
– Transportation led the way in spending growth from state funds in both fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2016, while Medicaid experienced the largest gains from all funds.
– Revenue growth slowed considerably in fiscal 2016 as states saw weaker collections from sales, personal income, and corporate income taxes.
FUNDING LONG-TERM CARE
Facing a wave of aging baby boomers, many states are trying to make it easier for seniors to stay in their homes—as many prefer—instead of moving into more costly nursing homes. With high stakes for state budgets, many states are undertaking long-term planning to pay for long-term care.
TOP STATES FOR RETIREMENT
What is the best state for retirement? It’s a popular question among baby boomers, who increasingly seek more livable communities that will allow them to age in place. How are states responding? Drawing from an AARP scorecard on state long-term services and supports, here’s a look at top states for retirement and aging.
IMPROVING SENIOR MOBILITY
For many seniors, staying active in their golden years depends on staying mobile. But in many states and communities, transportation systems haven’t been developed with seniors or individuals with disabilities in mind. That’s changing as states are taking steps to improve transportation mobility for older adults.
ENDING ELDER ABUSE
Elder financial abuse costs older Americans $2.9 billion per year, but the harm to seniors caused by fraud often extends far beyond the checkbook. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum shares key steps her state has taken to strengthen elder abuse prevention and response.
When state leaders discuss the fiscal challenges of an aging population, the focus is often on costs for senior services. However, as CSG Senior Fellows Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene point out, declining tax revenues are also a concern.
From the summary:
Previous research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has estimated as many as 7% of all crashes, 13% of crashes that result in hospital admission, and 21% of fatal crashes involve driver drowsiness. However, the relationship between specific measures of sleep deprivation and crash risk has not been quantified in the general driving population. The results of this study indicate that drivers who usually sleep for less than 5 hours daily, drivers who have slept for less than 7 hours in the past 24 hours, and drivers who have slept for 1 or more hours less than their usual amount of sleep in the past 24 hours have significantly elevated crash rates. The estimated rate ratio for crash involvement associated with driving after only 4-5 hours of sleep compared with 7 hours or more is similar to the U.S. government’s estimates of the risk associated with driving with a blood alcohol concentration equal to or slightly above the legal limit for alcohol in the U.S.
Source: Jonathan V. Hall, Alan B. Krueger, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 22843, November 2016
From the abstract:
Uber, the ride-sharing company launched in 2010, has grown at an exponential rate. This paper provides the first comprehensive analysis of the labor market for Uber’s driver-partners, based on both survey and administrative data. Drivers who partner with Uber appear to be attracted to the platform largely because of the flexibility it offers, the level of compensation, and the fact that earnings per hour do not vary much with the number of hours worked. Uber’s driver-partners are more similar in terms of their age and education to the general workforce than to taxi drivers and chauffeurs. Most of Uber’s driver-partners had full- or part-time employment prior to joining Uber, and many continued in those positions after starting to drive with the Uber platform, which makes the flexibility to set their own hours all the more valuable. Uber’s driver-partners also often cited the desire to smooth fluctuations in their income as a reason for partnering with Uber.