Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act, Title V): Background and State and Local Data

Source: Grant A. Driessen, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R46298, Updated August 25, 2020

The sudden decline in economic output following the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has significantly altered the fiscal outlook for state and local governments. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136), signed into law on March 27, 2020, created the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which provides $150 billion in direct assistance for state and local governments. This report briefly summarizes the background, purpose, and allocation details of the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Table 1 provides total Coronavirus Relief Fund allocations and costs incurredby states, and Table 2 provides allocations and costs incurred for territories. A total of $149.5 billion was allocated to eligible governments as of August 12, 2020. As of June 30, 2020, eligible state and local governments (excluding tribal governments) reported $35.6 billion (or 25%) in costs incurred from allocated funds. Figure 1 and Figure 2 show state-level percentages of allocations incurred (through June 30, 2020) to state and local governments, respectively. Individual government allocations and costs incurred are provided in Table 3.

U.S. Public Finance 2020 Outlook: A Precarious Balance

Source: Robin Prunty, Kurt Forsgren, David Bodek, Jane Ridley, Geoff Buswick, Jessica Wood, Ted Chapman Marian Zucker, Suzie Desai, S&P Global Ratings, January 2020

From the summary:
All sector outlooks are stable with the exception of Higher Education which continues with a negative outlook for the third year. The record economic expansion has translated to overall credit stability in U.S. Public Finance and we expect this to continue in 2020. Despite favorable economic and fiscal trends we do see a precarious balance for 2020 as key credit risks such as retirement liabilities, event risk disruptions, global aging, and pressing infrastructure needs present budget and policy challenges in 2020 and beyond. We will continue to highlight Environmental, Social and Governance issues, which could lead to both positive and negative credit influences.

Tackling the Law Enforcement Personnel Shortage Takes More Than Money

Source: Ed Lamb, HR News, Vol. 84 no. 7, July 2018
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T ype “challenges hiring police” into a Google search bar, and you receive roughly 26.6 million results. Municipalities all across the United States are in self-reported crises brought on by baby boomer commissioners retiring, Generation X captains and detectives leaving rather than seeking promotions, and fewer millennials entering academies to serve as patrol officers and deputies.

These problems have always existed to some degree. Law enforcement demands a great deal physically, mentally and emotionally from job candidates and incumbents. Still, difficulties with building and maintaining fully staffed and optimally functioning police forces have piled up over the past decade.

Budget restrictions, social media-fueled scandals and even the obesity epidemic have reduced the appeal and accessibility of police positions for many Americans. Against these headwinds, best practices for recruiting and retaining law enforcement personnel for the 21st century have emerged…..

Liquidity in the Municipal Bond Market

Source: Edward Friedman, Regional Financial Review, July 2018
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Although the possibility of near-term federal legislation to boost infrastructure spending is fading, the need to address the nation’s aging roads, bridges, and other public works is as pressing as ever. Financing is the sticking point. After an initial flurry of interest, no progress has occurred on so-called public-private partnerships. Inevitably, the focus has shifted back to the municipal bond market as the vehicle. Unfortunately, tax reform has hindered rather than helped the market by reducing its tax advantages. This article will provide evidence that the market is also relatively illiquid and will show how that is also an impediment. However, recent regulatory changes offer the prospect that liquidity in the form of institutional participation in the market is set to rise.

More Americans view long-term decline in union membership negatively than positively

Source: Hannah Fingerhut, Pew Research Center, Fact Tank, June 5, 2018

The number of Americans represented by labor unions has decreased substantially since the 1950s, and a new Pew Research Center survey finds that the decline is seen more negatively than positively by U.S. adults. The survey also finds that 55% of Americans have a favorable impression of unions, with about as many (53%) viewing business corporations favorably.

Millennials: Unions Good, Corporations Bad
Source: Cole Stangler, Jacobin, June 7, 2018

Leftists should be heartened by recent US poll data showing that 68 percent of people aged 18-29 have positive views of unions. Just 46 percent said the same of corporations.

Rethinking the Determination of the Value of Labor Power

Source: Guido Starosta, Alejandro Fitzsimons, Review of Radical Political Economics, Vol. 50 no. 1, Summer 2018
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From the abstract:
This article critically examines the received wisdom on the value of labor power that posits the workers’ material reproduction and the class struggle as two independent factors that determine the bundle of wage-goods consumed by the working class. It shows that this reading has no solid textual basis on Marx’s writings. Furthermore, it argues that it rests on a problematic separation of the actual immanent unity between materiality and social form in the capitalist mode of production.

U.S. Employment and Opioids: Is There a Connection?

Source: Janet Currie, Jonas Y. Jin, Molly Schnell NBER Working Paper No. 24440, March 2018
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From the abstract:
This paper uses quarterly county-level data to examine the relationship between opioid prescription rates and employment-to-population ratios from 2006–2014. We first estimate models of the effect of opioid prescription rates on employment-to-population ratios, instrumenting opioid prescriptions for younger ages using opioid prescriptions to the elderly. We also estimate models of the effect of employment-to-population ratios on opioid prescription rates using a shift-share instrument. We find that the estimated effect of opioids on employment-to-population ratios is positive but small for women, but there is no relationship for men. These findings suggest that although they are addictive and dangerous, opioids may allow some women to work who would otherwise leave the labor force. When we examine the effect of employment-to-population ratios on opioid prescriptions, our results are more ambiguous. Overall, our findings suggest that there is no simple causal relationship between economic conditions and the abuse of opioids. Therefore, while improving economic conditions in depressed areas is desirable for many reasons, it is unlikely to curb the opioid epidemic.

Why Free College Tuition Is Spreading From Cities to States

Source: Marsha Mercer, Stateline, January 5, 2018

To churn out more workers with marketable skills, an increasing number of states are offering residents free tuition to community colleges and technical schools. The move also is a reaction to fast-rising tuition costs — increases that stem, in part, from states reducing their financial support of public colleges and universities. …..


On Free College, West Virginia is a Case Study of What to Do and Not Do
Source: Mark Huelsman, Demos, Policy Shop blog, January 17, 2018

West Virginia looks like it might become the latest state to offer a version of tuition-free community college—joining Tennessee, Oregon, New York (which has extended free college to public 4-year schools as well), and a host of localities across the country. In a state with a Republican governor and Senate, the proposal (known as WV Invests) is the most recent sign that some version of guaranteed college affordability is not going away anytime soon. And like most versions of free community college, there are a few upsides and a few notable—and correctable—drawbacks….

The Effects of Chains on the Measurement of Competition in the Nursing Home Industry

Source: Richard A. Hirth, Qing Zheng, David C. Grabowski, David G. Stevenson, Orna Intrator, Jane Banaszak-Holl, Medical Care Research and Review, OnlineFirst, First Published April 7, 2017
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From the abstract:
Consistently accounting for more than 50% of the nursing homes in the United States, corporate chains have played an important role in the industry for several decades. However, few studies have explicitly considered the role of chains in measuring competition in nursing home markets. In this study, we use a newly developed database tracking common ownership over a period of nearly two decades to compare chain-adjusted and unadjusted measures of competition at the county and 25 km fixed-radius levels and explore how the differences would affect the assessment of local market structure. On average, the chain-adjusted Herfindahl–Hirschman Indexes (HHIs) are about 0.02 higher than the unadjusted HHIs. Each year, about 20% to 22% of the counties would appear more concentrated when recalculating HHIs accounting for common ownership. Evidence suggests that nursing home chains tend to focus more on expanding access to new markets within a state than to increasing market power within a smaller local market.

Lessons Learned From the Affordable Care Act: The Premium Subsidy Design May Promote Adverse Selection

Source: Ilana Graetz, Caitlin N. McKillop, Cameron M. Kaplan, Teresa M. Waters, Medical Care Research and Review, OnlineFirst, First Published May 4, 2017
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From the abstract:
Since 2014, average premiums for health plans available in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces have increased. We examine how premium price changes affected the amount consumers pay after subsidies for the lowest-cost bronze and silver plans available by age in the federally facilitated exchanges. Between 2015 and 2016, benchmark plan premiums increased in 83.3% of counties. Overall, rising benchmark premiums were associated with lower average after-subsidy premiums for the lowest-cost bronze and silver plans for older subsidy-eligible adults, but with higher after-subsidy premiums for younger adults purchasing the same plans, regardless of income. With recent discussions to replace or overhaul the Affordable Care Act, it is critical that we learn from the successes and failures of the current policy. Our findings suggest that the subsidy design, which makes rising premiums costlier for younger adults looking to purchase an entry-level plan, may be contributing to adverse selection and instability in the marketplace.