Consequences of state disinvestment in public higher education: lessons for the New England states
Public higher education produces many benefits that are vital to the New England economy, but it is increasingly at risk following years of state budget cuts. States have reduced funding for higher education to address short-term budget gaps caused by recessions and long-term budget gaps attributed to the growing costs of Medicaid and public pensions. Research in this report shows that reductions in state appropriations have resulted in higher tuition and fees, greater student loan debt, decreased resources for education and research, and fewer graduates and approved patent applications from ...
Measuring municipal fiscal disparities in Connecticut
Fiscal disparities exist when some municipalities face higher costs for providing a given level of public services or fewer taxable resources to finance those services than others. A municipality's economic and social characteristics can affect both costs and resources. The potential for fiscal disparities in Connecticut is particularly high given the vast socioeconomic differences observed across the state's 169 cities and towns. This paper measures the non-school fiscal health of Connecticut municipalities using a "municipal gap." Municipal gap is the difference between the ...
Achieving greater fiscal stability: guidance for the New England states
This report considers the New England states? past preparedness for revenue downturns caused by business cycle fluctuations and assesses policy actions that could promote greater fiscal stability in the future.
Reintegrating the ex-offender population in the U.S. labor market: lessons from the CORI Reform in Massachusetts
Policymakers have proposed and enacted policies that seek to limit the negative consequences that a criminal record imposes on ex-offenders, their families, and society at large. Some states have changed how criminal records are accessed and governed in the interest of removing unduly burdensome barriers to employment for some ex-offenders. Between 2010 and 2012, Massachusetts enacted the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Reform, changing access guidelines for criminal records and preventing employers from inquiring about criminal history on an initial application for employment. ...
Does Springfield receive its fair share of municipal aid? : implications for aid formula reform in Massachusetts
This paper examines the distribution of unrestricted municipal aid in Massachusetts, which has been a major concern to civic leaders and elected officials of many communities, including Springfield. The paper develops a measure of the municipal fiscal gap indicating the relative need of municipalities for state aid. The analysis shows that in recent years, unrestricted municipal aid has not been distributed in proportion to the gap measure among the 10 largest cities in Massachusetts. For example, despite having the largest municipal gap, Springfield received almost the lowest per capita ...
The fiscal impact of potential local option taxes in Massachusetts
This paper examines the potential impact of local-option taxes on meals, general sales, income, and payroll on revenue-raising capacity in Massachusetts municipalities. It finds that, while new local-option taxes would generate considerable additional revenues from untapped sources, revenue capacity is not evenly distributed across municipalities. Indeed, local-option taxes are likely to exacerbate fiscal disparities, because municipalities with low existing revenue-raising capacity often lack the tax bases for new local-option taxes. Policymakers could consider increasing equalizing state ...
Municipal aid evaluation and reform
The distribution of unrestricted municipal aid has been a major policy concern in many states. Using Massachusetts as a case study, this paper examines the extent to which unrestricted municipal aid is responsive to the variation in the underlying fiscal health of municipalities. The paper uses a measure of ?municipal gap??based on local economic and social characteristics outside the direct control of local officials?to indicate the underlying fiscal health of cities and towns. The analysis finds large disparities in municipal gaps among Massachusetts cities and towns, and that those ...
Designing formulas for distributing reductions in state aid
Local governments depend on state aid to provide residents and businesses with vital public services, such as education, police and fire protection, and safe public roads. However, in response to the recent fiscal crisis, many states are quickly and deeply cutting local aid. The Congressional Budget Office reported that 22 states reduced aid to local governments in FY 2010, and 20 states have proposed additional cuts in FY 2011. ; States tend to cut aid either on an ad hoc basis or across the board, with every community receiving the same percent aid cut. This paper proposes a new, more ...
The lack of affordable housing in New England: how big a problem?: why is it growing?: what are we doing about it?
Although housing costs in greater Boston and elsewhere around the region have leveled off, affordable housing is still high on the public policy agenda in every New England state. A growing chorus of employers and policymakers are warning that the region's high cost of housing is now undermining its ability to attract and retain workers and businesses. This paper presents a thorough, region-wide analysis of the housing affordability problem in New England. We construct three affordability indicators to examine differences in the cost of housing across socioeconomic, demographic, and ...
Toward a more prosperous Springfield : a look at the barriers to employment from the perspective of residents and supporting organizations
Compared to the city, the region, and the state, labor force participation rates in Springfield's downtown and surrounding neighborhoods are very low. Residents and community leaders have expressed concerns about the employment prospects for the low-income residents that make up these neighborhoods. The purpose of this discussion paper is to highlight the perspectives of residents and community-based organizations on why so few residents of Springfield?s downtown neighborhoods are employed and to look at the some of the resources available to Springfield residents to help them address ...