An Overdue Discussion: Two takes on the library-fine debate

Source: Phil Morehart, American Libraries, June 1, 2018

Whether to charge fines for overdue materials is a hot-button topic. The issues are many: Some libraries have halted the practice, citing concerns that fines keep patrons away, while other libraries have kept them in place as vital revenue streams. Fines are also used by some libraries as a method to teach personal responsibility, while other libraries consider that lesson outside the realm of librarianship. We spoke with a librarian on each side of the debate….

The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness: Advice for managers and leaders

Source: Ryan J. Dowd, American Libraries, June 1, 2018

….Working with difficult homeless individuals is hard. Managing people who work with difficult homeless individuals is harder. There are two equally challenging problems:
– staff members who are terrified of conflict and avoid all confrontation by not enforcing any rules
– staff members who think they are Rambo, turning every mild conflict into World War III

It is easier to help a timid staff member become assertive than it is to help an aggressive staff member be polite. I am not sure why this is, but hot-headed employees usually cannot rein it in for very long. They can get better for a little while, but eventually emotions take over and they lose their cool. Timid staff, on the other hand, grow only more confident as they get experience.

There are some tactics that can make you more effective…..

The Long-Term Budget Outlook Under Alternative Scenarios for Fiscal Policy

Source: Congressional Budget Office, August 8, 2018

From the summary:
Each year, CBO publishes extended baseline projections—a set of budget projections that incorporate the assumption that current laws generally remain unchanged, extending the agency’s 10-year baseline projections beyond the coming decade. In CBO’s most recent extended baseline, revenues grow more rapidly than gross domestic product (GDP), rising to levels well above their historical average, because recently enacted tax changes are scheduled to expire and because of the structure of the tax system. In addition, discretionary spending falls substantially in relation to the size of the economy. Nevertheless, federal debt held by the public rises from an amount equal to 78 percent of GDP in 2018 to 118 percent of GDP in 2038. This report expands on CBO’s extended baseline projections by showing how the federal budget and the nation’s economy would evolve under three alternative scenarios. In those scenarios, laws would be changed to continue certain policies now in place, leading to even higher debt.

ACA subsidies cost more per person than Medicaid. Is that sustainable?

Source: Susannah Luthi, Modern Healthcare, August 8, 2018

Government spending on Obamacare premiums has raced past its per-person spending on Medicaid expansion, and the gap is poised to increase—a trend that has some policy experts shaking their heads over the long-term economic picture and at least one major insurer questioning the sustainability of the individual market….

Related:
Enrolling Americans in Medicaid Is Now Cheaper Than Subsidizing Their Obamacare Coverage
Source: Jordan Weissman, Slate, August 10, 2018

Federal Subsidies for Health Insurance Coverage for People Under Age 65: 2018 to 2028
Source: Congressional Budget Office, May 2018
CBO and JCT project that the federal subsidies, taxes, and penalties associated with health insurance coverage for people under age 65 will result in a net subsidy from the federal government of $685 billion in 2018.

Federal Subsidies for Health Insurance Coverage for People Under Age 65: Tables from CBO’s Spring 2018 Projections
Source: Congressional Budget Office, May 2018

New data makes it clear: Nonvoters handed Trump the presidency

Source: Philip Bump, Washington Post, August 9, 2018

Most of our assessments of the electorate in 2016 are dependent on estimates. Polling before the election that suggested where people were leaning; exit polling after the fact that gives us some sense of who actually turned out. When more than 137 million people vote, understanding exactly who they were and why they voted the way they did necessarily involves some guesswork.

On Thursday, though, Pew Research Center released an unusually robust survey of the 2016 electorate. In addition to having asked people how they voted, Pew’s team verified that they did, giving us a picture not only of the electorate but also of those who didn’t vote. There are a number of interesting details that emerge from that research, including a breakdown of President Trump’s support that confirms much of his base has backed him enthusiastically since the Republican primaries.

The data also makes another point very clear: Those who didn’t vote are as responsible for the outcome of the election as those who did…..

Employer-Provided Student Loan Repayment Assistance Benefits

Source: John G. Kilgour, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, Published August 7, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
With 70% of recent hires being encumbered with student-loan debt, employers and employees have recently become interested in repayment assistance benefits. Since about 2015, 4% of employers and 8% of large employers have adopted such plans. An estimated 20% will have them by 2018. This article examines the background, growth and magnitude of federal and private student loans. It also examines those programs that have been adopted and gleans from them a number of questions that will help in the design and implementation of new programs by employers.

CMS’s proposed changes to outpatient services, if finalized, would hurt hospital margins

Source: Diana Lee, Daniel Steingart, Jessica Gladstone, Jonathan Kanarek, Kendra M. Smith, Peter H. Abdill, Moody’s, Sector Comment, August 8, 2018
(subscription required)

On July 25, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed several changes to the Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System, which, if finalized, would generally be credit negative for both not-for-profit and for-profit hospitals. Changes include: (1) site neutral clinic visits, (2) expansion of 340B policy changes to off-campus departments of hospitals, and (3) adding certain nonsurgical procedures as covered procedures at ambulatory surgical centers. While on their own, these proposed changes would not be material to overall sector credit quality, the effects would vary by hospital. In general, the proposal to move certain cardiac procedures to ASCs, if finalized and if adopted by clinicians, would likely have the broadest and most significant effect on the hospital sector. Additionally, to the extent that commercial payors follow suit, each of these changes would have more meaningful effects…..

Midyear update – Higher Education – Favorable government funding and investment returns, tuition revenue pressure continues

Source: Susan E Shaffer, Susan I Fitzgerald, Kendra M. Smith, Moody’s, Sector Comment, August 6, 2018
(subscription required)

While our outlook for the higher education sector remains negative, 2018 growth of several revenue streams has been more favorable than anticipated. Both an improved federal research funding environment and ongoing favorable investment returns are credit positive for the sector. For public universities, overall state fiscal conditions are improving, leading to stable-to-growing appropriations for fiscal 2019. However, moving into fiscal 2019, flat enrollment — declining in certain regions of the country — and a continued focus on affordability will likely continue to limit growth in tuition and fees, the largest revenue stream supporting the sector….

Related:
Community Colleges – Reauthorization of federal career and technical funding credit positive
Source: Patrick McCabe, Susan I Fitzgerald, Kendra M. Smith, Moody’s, Sector Comment, August 6, 2018
(subscription required)

On July 31, the Strengthen Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) was signed into law, reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act initially approved in 1984. This federal grant initiative, centered on state and local career and technical education (CTE), serves as an important funding source for secondary and postsecondary programs designed to align training and work-based learning opportunities with evolving workforce needs. Perkins V renews and updates the federal government’s commitment to these goals, an overall credit positive for the community college sector and community colleges’ efforts to improve cooperative education opportunities.

New York sales tax collections reach eight-year high, a credit positive for many cities and counties

Source: Robert Weber, Thomas Jacobs, Moody’s, Sector Comment, August 8, 2018
(subscription required)

On 1 August, the New York State (Aa1 stable) Comptroller’s Office announced that first half of calendar year 2018 sales tax collections grew 6% over 2017, the highest six-month increase since 2010. Sales tax revenues are a significant revenue stream for many counties and cities across New York, and sales tax growth also indicates that New York’s economy is improving. Additionally, the early effects of the federal tax law may be having a positive influence on people’s buying habits through the first half of 2018. As a result, these results are credit positive for many cities and counties in New York.

Related:
Deficit financing legislation helps distressed local governments but lacks teeth
Robert Weber, Thomas Jacobs, Gregory W. Lipitz, Naomi Richman, Leonard Jones, Moody’s, Sector Comment, August 8, 2018
(subscription required)

New York’s (Aa1 stable) legislation allowing municipalities to issue bonds to liquidate operating deficits is an important tool for local governments mired in financial distress. However, accessing this deficit financing has produced mixed results, providing a one-time influx of cash but still leaving local governments vulnerable to poor management decisions.