Papers: State & Local

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The Hamilton Project Policy Response to the 2014 State of the Union Address

January 2014 • Economic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Energy & Environment, Global Economy, Infrastructure, Poverty, State & Local, Tax Policy, Technology & Innovation

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke of a “breakthrough year for America” and foreshadowed a “year of action.” He focused on ways to expand opportunities for Americans by enhancing employment and education options for low-and middle-income citizens, developing more robust worker training programs, investing in America through infrastructure investments and energy innovation, the importance of making progress on immigration reform, and more. Since its launch in 2006, The Hamilton Project has released a range of targeted policy proposals that provide innovative, evidence-based approaches to addressing many of the policy priorities set forth in the Presidents address.

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Strengthening SNAP for a More Food-Secure, Healthy America

December 2013 • Diane Whitmore SchanzenbachPoverty, Employment & Wages, Economic Security, Effective Government, State & Local

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—formerly known as the Food Stamp Program—is an essential part of America’s social safety net. In a new Hamilton Project discussion paper, Diane Schanzenbach proposes five reforms that could strengthen SNAP, including incentives for participants to purchase healthier foods and improvements to the benefit formula.

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New Approaches to Promoting College Access for More Americans

June 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEducation, State & Local, Employment & Wages, Economic Security, Effective Government

The role of education in improving social mobility is well-known, and new evidence identifies promising ways to help more low-income students improve their educational opportunities. In a new blog post, The Hamilton Project compares a range of interventions aimed at boosting college attendance and completion among low-income students.

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Using Data to Improve the Performance of Workforce Training

April 2013 • Louis S. Jacobson, Robert J. LaLondeEmployment & Wages, Economic Security, State & Local, Effective Government

Workforce training programs have the potential to improve the lives and incomes of millions of Americans by lifting many into the middle class and preventing others from falling out of it. Despite their promise, however, too many workers enroll in courses that they do not complete or complete courses that do not lead to better jobs, reducing the benefits to workers and the economic return to workforce investments. Louis Jacobson of New Horizons Economic Research and Robert LaLonde of the University of Chicago propose a competition to increase the return on training investments by developing the data and measures necessary to provide the information prospective trainees need, by presenting the information in user-friendly “report cards,” by providing help for prospective trainees to use the information effectively, and by creating incentives for states to implement permanent information systems once they prove cost-effective.

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Building on Recent Advances in Evidence-Based Policymaking

April 2013 • Jeffrey B. LiebmanEffective Government, State & Local

Over the past decade, and particularly over the past five years, new government strategies have begun to emerge—at the federal, state, and local levels—that offer the potential of simultaneously making better use of taxpayer dollars and speeding up progress in addressing serious social problems. Jeffrey Liebman of Harvard University discusses several of these strategies and outlines five steps that policymakers can take to better inform their work with evidence. He also proposes a grant competition that identifies and encourages innovation in ten social policy priority areas as well as federal support for state and local Pay for Success initiatives.

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Funding Transportation Infrastructure with User Fees

February 2013 • Jack Basso, Tyler DuvallInfrastructure, State & Local

Investments in infrastructure are essential for a vital economy. Tyler Duvall and Jack Basso suggest looking to user fees as a way to raise revenues, reduce congestion on major roadways, reduce pollution, and promote wiser infrastructure investments.

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The Hamilton Project Policy Response to the State of the Union Address

February 2013 • Economic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Energy & Environment, Global Economy, Health Care, Infrastructure, Poverty, State & Local, Tax Policy, Technology & Innovation

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama outlined an ambitious second-term agenda focusing on policies to help strengthen America’s middle class through broad-based economic growth. Since its launch in 2006, The Hamilton Project has released a range of targeted policy proposals that provide innovative, evidence-based approaches to address many of the priorities set forth in this year’s address, which we offer as a resource to policymakers in response to specific ideas mentioned by the President this week.

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Regardless of the Cost, College Still Matters

October 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEffective Government, Education, Employment & Wages, State & Local

There is ongoing debate about the rising cost of college and whether that investment is still worthwhile in today’s economy. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines the rising cost of college over the last 30 years and finds that while college costs are growing, the increase in earnings one receives from a college degree—and, by extension, the cost of not going to college—are growing even faster. 

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A Record Decline in Government Jobs: Implications for the Economy and America’s Workforce

August 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEmployment & Wages, Education, State & Local, Effective Government

The Hamilton Project examines the short- and long-run impacts of public-sector job cuts since the Great Recession. If the share of government employment to population had remained at historical levels, the unemployment rate would be approximately 7.1 percent.

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The Role of Fiscal Stimulus in the Ongoing Recovery

July 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEmployment & Wages, Economic Security, Effective Government, State & Local

The Hamilton Project examines the relationship between government spending and unemployment, finding that states that spent more during the Great Recession experienced a smaller increase in their unemployment rate.

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Investing in the Future: An Economic Strategy for State and Local Governments in a Period of Tight Budgets

February 2011 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneInfrastructure, Education, State & Local

Confronting near-term budget challenges, state and local governments are under tremendous pressure to focus on immediate needs at the expense of long-term investments. Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney highlight four policy principles for state and local governments with an emphasis on the importance of infrastructure investments for economic growth and prosperity.

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Public-Private Partnerships to Revamp U.S. Infrastructure

February 2011 • Eduardo Engel, Alexander Galetovic, Ronald FischerInfrastructure, Effective Government, State & Local

Eduardo Engel, Ronald Fischer, and Alexander Galetovic propose a series of best practices for state and local governments to follow when using public–private partnerships to provide infrastructure.

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Fix It First, Expand It Second, Reward It Third: A New Strategy for America’s Highways

February 2011 • David M. Levinson, Matthew E. KahnInfrastructure, State & Local, Effective Government

Matthew Kahn and David Levinson propose a reorganization of our national highway infrastructure priorities to preserve, maintain, and enhance existing infrastructure and the creation of the Federal Highway Bank to meet these goals.

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Lowering Borrowing Costs for States and Municipalities Through CommonMuni

February 2011 • Andrew Ang, Rick GreenInfrastructure, Effective Government, State & Local

Andrew Ang and Richard Green propose the establishment of CommonMuni, a not-for-profit advisory firm designed to reduce borrowing costs for municipalities by overcoming the difficulty individual municipalities and investors have coordinating with one another.

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The Mobility Bank: Increasing Residential Mobility to Boost Economic Mobility

October 2010 • Jens Ludwig, Steven RaphaelEconomic Security, Employment & Wages, State & Local

This paper proposes the creation of a “mobility bank” at a government cost of less than $1 billion per year to help finance the residential moves of U.S. workers relocating either to take offered jobs or to search for work, and to help them learn more about the employment options available in other parts of the country.

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Bringing Jobs to People: How Federal Policy Can Target Job Creation for Economically Distressed Areas

October 2010 • Timothy J. BartikEmployment & Wages, State & Local, Effective Government

This paper proposes three solutions to bring jobs to distressed areas: customized job training programs for businesses and employees, advice and consulting services through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, and a package of grants for local services and tax breaks through a reformed and revitalized Empowerment Zone program.

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An Economic Strategy to Renew American Communities

October 2010 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEmployment & Wages, State & Local

When hit by recessions or other economic shocks, some communities have persistently low rates of economic growth that cause them to fall behind the rest of the country. The recovery period for these distressed communities is longer and more painful than necessary. To address this situation, The Hamilton Project proposes a three-pronged approach: attract businesses to distressed areas, invest in displaced workers, and match workers to jobs.

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June’s Employment Numbers Highlight America’s Increasingly Distressed Communities

July 2010 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEconomic Security, Employment & Wages, Poverty, State & Local

June’s employment numbers highlight that our economic recovery is not yet on solid footing. An analysis by The Hamilton Project digs into the regional distribution of these unemployment trends and finds that, by one measure, the five hardest-hit states are Alabama, Delaware, Colorado, Georgia, and Utah.

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Stabilizing State and Local Budgets: A Proposal for Tax-Base Insurance

June 2008 • Akash Deep, Robert Z. LawrenceTax Policy, State & Local

Akash Deep and Robert Z. Lawrence propose an affordable federal instrument that could mitigate the adverse impact of tax-revenue shocks on communities by allowing them to buy tax-base insurance.

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