Reaching the goal: expanding health insurance coverage in New England: current strategies and new initiatives
As the number and percentage of people without health insurance continues to climb, the goal of expanding such coverage is even more pressing. Traditional strategies have had only limited success. And with little movement at the federal level, states have chosen to enact their own bold initiatives. Four New England states - Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont - have recently passed or implemented programs to expand health insurance coverage, some with the goal of achieving near-universal coverage. By combining different strategies from across the political spectrum, the new initiatives represent a unique amalgam approach to expanding health care coverage. This paper examines existing strategies that have taken a more incremental approach to expanding coverage and also explores the new initiatives in New England, comparing and contrasting their designs and strategies.
AUTHORS: Sasser, Alicia
Water, water everywhere: dare I drink a drop? (with apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
Given New England?s ample rainfall, green forests, and extensive wetlands, many of the region?s inhabitants might question the notion that it faces potentially severe water shortages. Yet, parts of the region already confront such shortages. These shortages are likely to spread, absent corrective action. This paper describes the characteristics of New England responsible for its looming water problems, identifies areas within the region most vulnerable to such problems, and analyzes alternative strategies for alleviating them. Small, shallow, porous aquifers are the region?s primary geological impediment to trapping and tapping adequate water supplies. Urbanization and a spatial mismatch between economic growth and water availability are contributing factors. Areas within the region most vulnerable to water shortages include, but are not limited to, southern Maine, southern New Hampshire, northern Vermont, and Massachusetts? North Shore and Route 495 corridor. While no single solution to potential water shortages is clearly superior, the authors conclude that conservation is a promising, effective tactic that should be an important component of any water strategy.
AUTHORS: Tannenwald, Robert; Turner, Nick
The impact of migration on earnings inequality in New England
Migration plays an important role in the New England economy; absent immigration, the region?s population and workforce would have shrunk in recent years. Yet increasingly, immigrant inflows have been met with legislative opposition at both the national and regional levels, motivated in part by concerns that immigration may be an important factor driving the marked rise in earnings inequality. The research findings presented in this report, however, indicate that immigration accounts for a very small portion?only 6.0 percent?of the rising earnings inequality that the region has experienced. These results suggest that policymakers interested in responding to increased inequality should pursue avenues other than immigration reform.
AUTHORS: Jackson, Osborne
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 public colleges and universities. This report recommends that policymakers provide robust financial support for public higher education, particularly community colleges, which are the most vulnerable to the negative consequences of state disinvestment.
AUTHORS: Zhao, Bo
The challenge of energy policy in New England
New England's energy problems were not quickly created, and they will not be quickly resolved. But they cannot be ignored, for they are too important to the region's future. Without the assurance of an energy system that can meet immediate demands along with long-term growth, the region puts its economic prosperity at risk.
AUTHORS: Conaway, Carrie
Reading the fine print: how details matter in tax and expenditure limitations
At least 30 states, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, operate under ?tax and expenditure limitations? (TELs): formula-based budgeting requirements that apply specific limits to expenditures, appropriations, or revenue collections by state or local government. More than a dozen states considered TELs in 2006. Legislation proposing a new TEL to further limit General Fund appropriations in Rhode Island was introduced; Maine citizens will vote on a more restrictive TEL this November. ; Several factors, including a desire for lower taxes and a belief that additional measures are needed to keep government spending in check, drive this interest in TELs. This paper discusses such arguments.
AUTHORS: Brome, Heather; Saas, Darcy Rollins
The potential economic impact of increasing the minimum wage in Massachusetts
In this report I review the arguments on both sides of the issue. In doing so, I discuss and critique, where applicable, the evidence presented in the two reports that have been issued on either side of the debate. I also produce my own projection of the likely impact of raising the minimum wage on aggregate employment and wages. These calculations use the two reports as a baseline, modifying some of the assumptions to better reflect evidence supported by the economic literature. According to my estimates, the current proposal to increase the minimum wage could have a negative impact on employment ranging from 2,100 to 10,500 jobs, or 1 to 4 percent of workers whose wages would be affected by the bill. On net, the combined impact of the two wage increases would raise aggregate wages by approximately $255 million.
AUTHORS: Sasser, Alicia
The quest for cost-efficient local government in New England: what role for regional consolidation?
In the aftermath of the Great Recession, many local governments have experienced significant financial strain. Local governments? financial challenges are likely to continue in the foreseeable future, as federal deficit-reducing measures trigger cuts in state and local aid and as all levels of government struggle to fund their medical and retirement obligations. In an effort to maintain service provision without significant tax increases, many cities and towns will be forced to consider a variety of cost-cutting measures, including joint service provision with other localities. ; This research examines the potential long term savings that could be realized through greater regional consolidation of select local government services, specifically emergency call handling and dispatch, public health, and high-level government administrative services. It focuses especially on the expected long term savings in the New England states, with specific estimates for Massachusetts and Connecticut. ; The report finds that regional service-sharing can be an effective means to achieve savings, particularly for services that rely on high levels of technology, capital, or specialized expertise. The author recommends that the state consider playing a stronger role in encouraging local regionalization through measures such as instituting quality standards and using funding to promote and facilitate consolidation.
AUTHORS: Kodrzycki, Yolanda
State foreclosure prevention efforts: mediation and financial assistance
Housing foreclosure activity in the United States and New England increased dramatically at the beginning of the housing crisis in 2006 and remains elevated. Given their economic and social costs, policymakers have developed a number of policies designed to prevent foreclosures. In recent years, state and local policymakers in New England have implemented two major foreclosure prevention policies: foreclosure mediation programs and financial assistance programs. This report reviews these two foreclosure prevention programs in the New England region. It explores how they are funded, weighs their benefits and challenges, and discusses their effectiveness at preventing foreclosures. The report concludes with policy recommendations for current and future foreclosure prevention programs.
AUTHORS: Clifford, Robert
A portrait of New England's immigrants
This research report uses the most recent available data to construct a detailed demographic, labor, and socioeconomic portrait of New England?s immigrants. It is the latest in a series of publications from the Center on the movement of people into and out of our region. ; The report evaluates the size, relative share, settlement patterns, and national origins of the region?s immigrants, and explores how these have changed in recent decades. It then describes the demographic characteristics of the region?s foreign-born residents, and analyzes their labor force behavior. Finally, the report evaluates immigrants? socioeconomic status and reliance on public assistance as well as their civic contributions. Throughout the report, the author explores differences between immigrants in the region and in the nation as a whole, as well as between immigrants in the northern three New England states and those in the southern three. The report concludes with recommendations of how states can sustain and enhance the economic potential and social integration of their immigrants.
AUTHORS: Owens, Antoniya