Governors and Public Education: A Trend Analysis Of Gubernatorial Messages 2004-2008

Source: Communities for Quality Education, 2008

From the press release:
A new report from Communities for Quality Education (CQE) analyzes State of the State gubernatorial addresses between 2004-2008 and highlights specific education policy trends. The report shows that between 2004 and 2007, every governor who delivered a State of the State address stressed the importance of education to economic growth. In fact, no issue surrounding education has been focused on as much by governors in their State of the State addresses as the link between education and economic prosperity.
See also:
Governors’ Statements

The North Dakota Experience: Achieving High-Performance Health Care Through Rural Innovation and Cooperation

Source: Douglas McCarthy, Rachel Nuzum, and Stephanie Mika, Commonwealth Fund, Vol. 93, May 15, 2008

From the summary:
Resource constraints and the desire to preserve the local economy have made necessity the mother of invention in North Dakota, driving health care providers and policymakers to try new approaches to care and to institute better practices relatively quickly. Collaboration to support primary care and the concept of a medical home, organization of care through cooperative networks of providers, and innovative use of technology to meet patient needs and hold down costs are examples of how North Dakota is able to provide its citizens with accessible, quality, and efficient health care despite the challenges of a rural setting. Rural communities have a unique context of community trust and interdependence, a social capital that allows them to innovate in meeting patients’ needs. A strong sense of mission, vigilance to process and outcomes, and enhanced communication and collaboration among health care providers are key to improvements made in North Dakota health care.
See also:
Fund Report

Hidden Consequences: Lessons From Massachusetts For States Considering A Property Tax Cap

Source: Phil Oliff and Iris Lav, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, May 21, 2008

From the summary:
In 1980 Massachusetts voters approved Proposition 2 ½, which mandates that property tax revenues not exceed 2.5 percent of a community’s assessed value and that a community’s property tax revenue not grow by more than 2.5 percent a year.

Over the two and a half decades Proposition 2 ½ has been in effect, Massachusetts’ level of property taxation has declined. Between 1980 and 1985, property taxes as a percentage of income fell from 76 percent above the national average to 13 percent above the national average, where it stands today. (Massachusetts localities rely more on the property tax than localities in much of the rest of the country because they are not permitted to levy sales or income taxes or various other forms of taxes.

Because Proposition 2 ½ lowered property taxation in Massachusetts, advocates of limited taxation often cite it as a model for reform. But the story is far more complicated than that. State aid has helped fill in some of the gaps in local funding the law created, but not all of them and not reliably over time. Furthermore, the local “overspending” that proponents claimed Proposition 2 ½ could curb did not exist in the imagined quantities, and necessary public services have been jeopardized.

Working Families and Economic Insecurity in the States: The Role of Job Quality and Work Supports

Source: Shawn Fremstad, Rebecca Ray and Hye Jin Rho, Center for Economic and Policy Research, May 2008

From the press release:
The federal poverty line does a poor job of measuring economic insecurity in the United States according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). In the typical state, 22 percent of people in working families suffer from economic hardship because their earnings and income from other sources, including public work supports and other public benefits, fall below the basic needs budget standard for where they live. By comparison, only 12.6 percent of Americans live below the federal poverty line.

Claims That A Modest Tax Surcharge On Millionaires Would Damage Small Businesses And The Economy Do Not Withstand Scrutiny

Source: Aviva Aron-Dine, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, May 20, 2008

From the summary:
Supplemental appropriations legislation that the House of Representatives approved last week (H.R. 2642) would impose a modest income tax surcharge on couples with adjusted gross income above $1 million (and singles with AGI above $500,000) to fund an expansion of higher education benefits for veterans. The surcharge would be equal to 0.47 percent of a taxpayer’s income above the threshold. For example, a couple with AGI of $1.1 million would pay a surcharge of $470 ($470 = 0.47% x $100,000).

Critics of the legislation have charged that the surcharge would harm small businesses and thereby damage the economy. In a letter to House members, the National Association of Manufacturers asserted that the surcharge would even diminish the employment prospects of returning veterans. The claim is that, because most small business owners pay individual income tax on their small business income, many of them would pay higher tax on their profits as a result of the legislation, which would deter them from hiring new workers and investing in their businesses. This argument is severely flawed in several respects.

Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention Resources for Law Enforcement

Source: Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice, May 2008

Links to online resources for recruiting, hiring, and retaining law enforcement staff are provided at this website. Resource links are organized into these areas: recruitment and hiring; retention and training; ethics and integrity; early intervention; and managing stress.

Recycling America’s Land

Source: Unites States Conference of Mayors, A National Report on Brownfields Redevelopment, Volume VII, January 2008

The United States Conference of Mayors defines the term “brownfield” as an abandoned or underutilized property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by either real or perceived environmental contamination. This description applies to a wide variety of sites including, but not limited to, industrial properties, old gas stations, vacant warehouses, former dry cleaning establishments, abandoned residential buildings which potentially could contain lead paint or asbestos. Under the new law, sites that contain petroleum products as well as mine-scarred land are also considered brownfields. Brownfields are located in almost every community in the United States.

The seventh Brownfield’s report documents the problems of brownfields redevelopment faced by local communities throughout the United States and identifies the fleeting opportunities lost when properties remain idle and abandoned. For the first time, this report quantifies some of the benefits from brownfields redevelopment efforts across the country with cities responding their positive results from land recycling and the return of brownfields to productive uses.

2008 National Study of Employers

Source: Ellen Galinsky, James T. Bond, Kelly Sakai, Stacy S. Kim, Nicole Giuntoli, Families and Work Institute, 2008

First conducted in 1998, the 2008 NSE is the most comprehensive and far-reaching study of initiatives provided by U.S. employers to address the changing needs of today’s workforce. Designed by Families and Work Institute and conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc., the NSE interviewed 1,100 employers with 50 or more employees located throughout the United States and provides trend data on changes that have occurred over the past 10 years. The study addresses questions such as:
• What is the prevalence of programs, policies, and benefits that address the needs of the changing workforce, including workplace flexibility, caregiving leaves, child and elder care assistance, and health care/economic security benefits?
• Are smaller or larger employers more likely to provide these programs, policies, and benefits?
• Have these initiatives increased or decreased in the past ten years?
• Which employers provider higher levels of support to their employees?

“Why Don’t Some States and Localities Pay Their Required Pension Contributions?”

Source: Alicia H. Munnell, Kelly Haverstick, Jean-Pierre Aubry, and Alex Golub-Sass, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Issue in Brief, SLP #7, May 2008

The brief’s key findings are:
• Over 40 percent of plans in our sample failed to make their annual required contribution (ARC) in 2006.
• Two thirds of these plans faced legal constraints on their contributions, but many are gradually adjusting their limits.
• For the unconstrained plans, the following factors are associated with a failure to make the ARC:

o The plan uses a less rigorous cost method;
o The plan is large; and
o The plan is in a state with a relatively high debt burden.

Economic (In)Security – The Experience of the African-American and Latino Middle Classes

Source: Jennifer Wheary, Thomas M. Shapiro, Tamara Draut, Tatjana Meschede, Dēmos, February 21, 2008

From the summary:
The post-World War II emergence of the American middle class was the direct, deliberate result of broad public investments that created economic opportunity, promoted upward mobility, and expanded the middle class. Even after decades of progress, substantial economic disparities remain along racial and ethnic boundaries. These disparities are apparent when comparing white households with the two fastest growing racial and ethnic groups in America, African Americans and Latinos. As a result of these barriers, these groups continue to experience greater barriers to entering and staying the middle class.

This report builds on our previous report, By a Thread: The New Experience of America’s Middle Class, which used an innovative Middle Class Security Index to measure the financial security of the middle class. The Index measures five key factors to determine whether a household’s overall profile supports middle-class economic security, puts them at high risk of falling out of the middle class, or leaves them somewhere in between. For each of the five areas measured by the Index – education, assets, housing, budget and healthcare – we have established thresholds that would support overall financial security or would threaten it.