October 2012 GRA News

GRA Reporter for October 2012

News and publications for GRA organizations.

Supporting our Friends

Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB)

GASB Encourages Planning, Preparation, and Collaboration On New Pension Statements
LINK
With new public pension accounting and financial reporting standards set to take effect in 2013 and 2014, GASB is urging state and local public officials and pension plan administrators to take steps now to ensure that they are well-prepared to implement those requirements.  Note the links at the end of this document providing access to other resources.

Member News and Bibliography

The following is news and recent publications that have been harvested from the websites of our GRA member organizations.  If you are not seeing the publications of your organization in these monthly newsletters, please contact gra@graonline.org with information about the proper place on your website where this information can be found on a monthly basis.

Wisconsin

Public Policy Forum

Mental Health Nurses and their Employers See Enhanced Role for Nursing in Milwaukee County’s Mental Health System
LINK
In this research brief, the Public Policy Forum summarizes the findings and implications of a survey it conducted of 120 mental health nurses and 34 employers as part of the Nursing’s Voice project. The Nursing’s Voice project is a collaborative effort of foundations, higher education institutions, and other interested parties to enhance the supply of mental health nurses in Milwaukee County and is intended to support a redesign of the County mental health system currently underway. The survey identified areas of need that should be addressed by policy changes such as how to increase the pool of qualified nurses and deploy them into settings beyond inpatient care.

Budget Brief: 2013 Proposed City of Milwaukee Budget
LINK
In this annual budget brief, the Forum found that the proposed City of Milwaukee budget, like many places in the United States, will be significantly impacted by pension obligations in FY2013 and beyond. However, analysts found that the city had worked to improve its finances over the previous fiscal years and consequently will be able to sustain service delivery levels in FY2013 with only a small increase to the property tax. The report warns that future necessary cuts to workforce and revenue increases will be difficult to achieve.

Budget Brief: Milwaukee County 2013 Executive Budget
LINK
This annual budget brief examines the FY2013 Recommended Milwaukee County budget and finds that it will continue past progress in addressing the county’s structural deficit while avoiding the widespread service cuts associated with previous budgets. The report warns that huge difficulties remain, especially huge infrastructure needs, low budgetary reserve levels and burdensome benefit levels.

Readiness for Quality Ratings Varies among Milwaukee Afterschool Programs
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The Public Policy Forum conducted a survey-whose findings are summarized in this research brief-in order to better understand the quality of afterschool programs in Milwaukee and describe the types of programs available to students. The results show a mixed level of quality present in afterschool programs.

Other Publications:
The Public Policy Forum’s “Milwaukee Talkie” blog had three posts in September: http://milwaukeetalkie.blogspot.com/
Topics included summaries of the reports released by the Forum in October and an analysis of how a new method of calculating population density for metropolitan areas in the United States could help make a case for improving public transit in Milwaukee.

Washington

Washington Research Council

Initiative 1240: Improving Education Options with Charter Schools
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I-1240 would allow 40 public charter schools to open over five years, giving Washington parents and students an alternative to traditional public schools.

Great Recession and Not So Great Recovery: Job Losses and Gains by Sector
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In this brief, we document the performance of various sectors of the state’s economy over the course of the downturn and ensuing “Not So Great Recovery.”

Labor Costs in Washington
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Policy-driven employment costs are a concern for employers. In Washington, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation are costly compared to other states. Washington also has the country’s highest minimum wage, a costly prevailing wage law, unusual paid family leave legislation, and a municipal paid sick leave ordinance.

A Complex Maze of State and Local Laws and Regulations
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A recent performance audit by the state auditor shows that efforts to reform the state’s regulatory system have produced uneven results. Agencies should communicate regulatory information to business better, and they should do more to streamline regulations.

Washington’s Prosperity Depends on Vibrant Tech Sector
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Washington’s vibrant tech cluster has had a strong, positive effect on the state economy. The sector accounts for nearly two-thirds of Washington’s job growth since 1990 and more than half of the growth in employee compensation. Major tax revenues generated by the sector grew 318 percent, to $2.9 billion in 2011.

Utah

The Utah Foundation

The Affordable Care Act:  Placing Healthcare Reform in a Historical and Comparative Context
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The Utah Foundation released this research report on October 25, 2012.  It presents the history and facts about the Affordable Care Act in a straightforward and nonpartisan manner, to enable citizens and policymakers to fully understand its complexities and nuances.  It also provides a broad overview of the history of healthcare reform, presents various healthcare models used throughout the world, and explains how the ACA compares to those models.

Priority Issue #1: Jobs and the Economy
LINK
The Utah Foundation released a policy brief on jobs and the economy on October 12, 2012.  In 2012, voters in Utah listed jobs and the economy as the most important priority in the election year.  This brief explains that while Utah’s job growth was stronger than the nation’s before and after the Great Recession, job losses were worse than the national average during the recession.

Tennessee

Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR)

Building Tennessee’s Tomorrow
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Each year TACIR publishes a report on public infrastructure needs in Tennessee, as reported by state and local officials. This year’s report, Building Tennessee’s Tomorrow, is a digest of the $38 billion worth of public infrastructure improvements that need to be in some stage of development during state fiscal years 2011 through 2015. This is an increase of $1.2 billion (3.3%) since the June 2011 report, which covered the five-year period of 2010 through 2014. The bulk of the total, $29.5 billion, is for local infrastructure improvements, and the rest is for regional or statewide needs.

New York

Center for Governmental Research

Profile of the Hispanic/Latino Community in Monroe County: How are we doing?
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A CGR report documents the growth, strengths and challenges facing the Hispanic/Latino community in a Western NY county with data and analysis of more than 20 Census indicators.

CGR’s Policy Wonk blog houses weekly “CGR Briefs” postings.
http://www.policy-wonk.org/
October’s topics included national health care costs and markets, and costs and financial benefits of higher education.

Citizens Budget Commission

A Better Way to Pay for the MTA
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This report suggests a new financing policy for the MTA to encourage efficiency, balance its operating budget and provide sufficient capital to accelerate the pace at which its facilities are brought to a state of good repair and to complete currently planned system enhancements.

Recommendations for the Next Round of Economic Development Council Awards
LINK
This year New York will allocate $762 million in economic development funds through the recently created Regional Economic Development Councils. Although the Councils have improved the effectiveness of the funding within their purview, they still control only a fraction of total economic development spending and their review process still leaves room for improvement.

CBC President Carol Kellermann penned two opinion pieces for the Huffington Post in October:
–    A Better Way to Pay for the MTA
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carol-kellermann/mta-fare-increase_b_1970393.html
LINK
On the importance of creating a new approach to financing the MTA.

–    Stretching New York’s Public Education Dollar
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carol-kellermann/new-york-education-funding_b_1958438.html
LINK
On how New York State’s education dollars are spread inequitably among school districts and spent disproportionately on employee benefits, not on improving the quality of education

New York Essentials: An Infographic
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Informational graphic showing of all the things New Yorkers can’t live without – bagels, pizza, a pastrami sandwich, the Post – none has remained as good a deal as a ride on the subway.

CBC Breakfast with HHC President & CEO Alan Aviles: HHC’s Essential Role in NYC’s Healthcare Infrastructure
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Video presentation and accompanying PowerPoint outlining the significant fiscal faced by The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) challenges in the coming years.

Minnesota

Minnesota Taxpayers Association

How Does Minnesota Compare?
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State by state rankings on revenues and spending.

Michigan

Citizens Research Council of Michigan

News – CRC’s analysis of Proposal 3 on the November 6 statewide ballot was downloaded a total of 135,500 times from the publication date of September 20 until election day.  As one of five proposed constitutional amendments, Proposal 3 would have created a renewable portfolio standard for at least 25 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2025.

CRC is Seeking Candidates for a Senior Research Associate specializing in state affairs
Find out more information at www.crcmich.org/information/Job_posting–Senior_Research_Associate.pdf

A Summary of the November 2012 Statewide Ballot Issues
LINK

This paper summarizes the six proposals that will appear on Michigan’s statewide ballot at the November 6, 2012 general election.  An in depth analysis of each proposal and corresponding webinars are available at no cost on the Citizens Research Council’s website, election.crcmich.org.

CRC’s Column October archive shows 2 new posts.
http://www.crcmich.org/column/?m=201210
Topics include an analysis of the Michigan’s Proposal 2, and a video CRC’s Annual Meeting.

Massachusetts

Worcester Regional Research Bureau

Listen to the Research Bureau Angle!
LINK
The Research Bureau has a weekly radio column every Monday between 12:50-1 p.m. on AM 830 WCRN. If you aren’t in the listening area, all past shows are archived.

Louisiana

Bureau of Governmental Research

S&WB Rate Increases and Reform, Hand in Hand
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In this release, BGR calls on the S&WB to limit rate increases temporarily to those that are necessary to meet its obligations under the federal consent decree that governs the sewer system. It states that additional increases should be contingent on, and adopted after, the implementation of meaningful governance reforms.

In On the Ballot: November 6, 2012
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BGR examines three proposed constitutional amendments, two propositions pertaining to multiple parishes in the New Orleans area, a proposed change to the City of New Orleans charter and two local tax propositions.

Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana

PAR Says More Time and Planning Needed for Successful Health Care Transition
LINK

Illinois

Illinois Fiscal Policy Council and Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois

During the legislative session, the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois publishes “TFI Report from the Capitol,” a weekly summary of legislative and administrative developments as well as recent reports on tax and fiscal issues.

Civic Federation

City of Chicago FY2013 Proposed Budget
LINK
The Civic Federation supports the City of Chicago’s FY2013 proposed $6.5 billion budget because it is a reasonable continuation of the City’s efforts to reduce its structural deficit through reforms that focus on expenditure reduction and operational efficiency. However, the analysis also emphasized that the city faces a significant pension crisis. The Federation strongly urges the City to work with relevant unions and the Illinois General Assembly to move forward with the pension reform framework Mayor Emanuel presented to the General Assembly in May 2012.

Cook County FY2013 Executive Budget Recommendation: Analysis and Recommendations
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The Civic Federation supports the Cook County FY2013 operating budget of $2.9 billion for its disciplined approach to significant budget challenges. The proposed budget marks the fulfillment of Board President Preckwinkle’s pledge to fully roll back the 2008 sales tax increase while cutting expenditures and making moderate revenue enhancements. The Civic Federation is concerned about the County’s long-term structural deficit but encouraged by steps forward on the pension reform front.

DuPage County Proposed FY2013 Financial Plan
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This report provided a summary of the DuPage County Proposed FY2013 Financial Plan. The budget would hold the property tax levy flat at $66.6 million for the third year in a row and reduce headcount while maintaining a healthy fund balance of $61.8 million or 47.2% of operating expenditures.

State of Illinois Enacted Budget FY2013: A Review of the Operating Budget for the Current Fiscal Year
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This analysis of the State of Illinois’ Fiscal Year 2013 budget estimates that projected savings could reduce the State’s existing backlog of $8.9 billion in unpaid bills by roughly $1.3 billion, but warned that the reduction may be difficult to achieve. The budget reflects significant steps to rein in the costs of Medicaid but fails to address the unsustainable costs of the State’s pension systems.

Other Publications:
The Civic Federation’s two blogs had a total of eleven posts in October: http://www.civicfed.org/blog and http://www.civicfed.org/iifs/blog.
Topics included discussions of the State of Illinois’ infrastructure needs, an announcement of the 2012 Motorola Solutions Foundation Excellence in Public Service Award honoree, a summary of the amended FY2013 Chicago Public Schools budget and an examination of the Cook County pension fund.

Alabama

Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama

Analysis of Alabama’s 11 statewide Constitutional Amendments
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The October edition of The PARCA Perspective contains an analysis of Alabama’s 11 statewide Constitutional Amendments for the November 6th General Election.

2012 ARMT Test Score Comparisons
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PARCA has also just released its 2012 ARMT Test Score Comparisons for every school system in Alabama. The data tables present proficiency levels for major student subgroups (white, black, poverty, non-poverty) in a user-friendly, color-coded format which lends itself to setting goals for improvement.  These annual assessments are important to the goal of raising academic skills throughout the state. They provide information that students, parents, teachers, policy makers, and taxpayers can use to evaluate progress and direct improvement efforts where results are below expectation.