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CBO — How Changes in Immigration Policy Would Affect the Federal Budget

January 28, 2015 Comments off

How Changes in Immigration Policy Would Affect the Federal Budget
Source: Congressional Budget Office

During the past two years, the Congress has considered proposals to modify the nation’s immigration system. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), passed by the Senate in June 2013, addresses multiple facets of immigration policy, including changes to the existing visa system, improvements in border security and law enforcement, and changes to the status of people who currently live in the country without legal authorization. Other proposals have focused on one component of immigration policy—for example, improving border security or changing certain aspects of the visa system. Whether the proposals involve broad or narrow changes to immigration policy, they could have a variety of consequences for both citizens and noncitizens, for the federal government, and for state and local governments. This CBO report examines some of those proposals and how such changes would affect the federal budget.

When estimating the budgetary consequences of immigration reform, CBO considers various factors. Depending on the details of proposed legislation, changes to immigration policy could have a significant effect on the size and composition of the noncitizen population and, as a result, on rates of participation in federal programs and the payment of taxes. For that reason, when estimating the budgetary effects of proposals, CBO considers the demographic and labor force characteristics of foreign-born people, their eligibility for and participation in federal programs, their tax liability, changes in the economy, and a number of other factors. If proposals were combined into a single, more comprehensive immigration bill, estimates of the budgetary effects would take into account the complex interactions among the various provisions; the net effect would not be a simple summation of the individual effects.

The Global Risks report 2015

January 26, 2015 Comments off

The Global Risks report 2015
Source: World Economic Forum

The 2015 edition of the Global Risks report completes a decade of highlighting the most significant long-term risks worldwide, drawing on the perspectives of experts and global decision-makers.

Over that time, analysis has moved from risk identification to thinking through risk interconnections and the potentially cascading effects that result.

Taking this effort one step further, this year’s report underscores potential causes as well as solutions to global risks.

Not only do we set out a view on 28 global risks in the report’s traditional categories (economic, environmental, societal, geopolitical and technological) but also we consider the drivers of those risks in the form of 13 trends.

In addition, we have selected initiatives for addressing significant challenges, which we hope will inspire collaboration among business, government and civil society communities.

Relief in Sight? States Rethink the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction, 2009 – 2014

January 23, 2015 Comments off

Relief in Sight? States Rethink the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction, 2009-2014
Source: Vera Institute of Justice

For millions of Americans, the legal and life-restricting consequences of a criminal conviction continue even after they’ve repaid their debt to society as barriers to voting, housing, jobs, education, and a raft of social services limit their ability to provide for their families and successfully reenter society. In recognition of the damaging effects these collateral consequences can have, 41 states have enacted legislation since 2009 that allows certain individuals to move beyond their convictions. This report reviews that legislative activity, discusses the limitations of current approaches, and offers recommendations to states and localities considering similar reforms.

The Problems with Measuring and Using Happiness for Policy Purposes

January 20, 2015 Comments off

The Problems with Measuring and Using Happiness for Policy Purposes
Source: Mercatus Center (George Mason University)

The use of happiness as a measurement tool is a new interest among some policymakers. Many governments around the world are considering measures of happiness (sometimes called “subjective well-being”) as alternatives to gross domestic product (GDP) for the purpose of guiding economic policymaking. Proponents of happiness measures correctly point out that GDP does not capture many aspects of economic growth, such as nonmarket activity and certain dimensions of citizens’ and residents’ quality of life. Thus, proponents claim happiness measures may better capture the quality of life of a nation’s citizens and lead to policies that are more effective and equitable.

There are important reasons why using happiness to guide policymaking cannot work as promised. The term happiness covers many different concepts and means something different to different people. Indeed, what constitutes happiness is difficult for most people to put into words. It is even more difficult for researchers and policymakers to define and measure happiness in a way that generates meaningful data that can be used to guide policy. Moreover, implementing policy choices based on happiness data would lead to undesirable or contradictory outcomes that would exacerbate existing societal problems.

State Legislatures Magazine — January 2015: Lawmakers have a slew of hot issues to juggle as sessions rev up around the country this month

January 20, 2015 Comments off

State Legislatures Magazine — January 2015: Lawmakers have a slew of hot issues to juggle as sessions rev up around the country this month
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

The overall economy is improving. Gas prices are down and state revenues are up. Things are better, but they’re not great.

Lawmakers are reporting for duty with partisanship and polarization casting longer than normal shadows down revered statehouse hallways. Social issues continue to divide, voters’ cynicism grows for all things “government” and federal inaction threatens states’ stability.

Still, state lawmakers find ways to get things done. They look for areas of agreement, they learn from experiences in other states and they find solutions to fairly serious problems, often quite innovatively and almost always more effectively than their federal counterparts.

As lawmakers roll up their sleeves to begin work on many important issues, state fiscal conditions, at least, are stronger than they have been for several years. With only a few exceptions, state finances continue to improve slowly but steadily from the depths of the Great Recession. NCSL’s most recent fiscal survey of the states found most spending in line with appropriated levels for FY 2015. In fact, as the New Year approached, only Medicaid and corrections in a couple of states were running over-budget.

The same survey found that the top funding issues state legislatures are expected to address during 2015 legislative sessions are education (from preschool to university), Medicaid, and transportation infrastructure. Other hot fiscal issues include tax reform and gaming.

As we do this time each year, we’ve listed the topics—many new and emerging—that will likely occupy a majority of lawmakers’ time and energy across the country.

Hashtag Standards For Emergencies

January 20, 2015 Comments off

Hashtag Standards For Emergencies (PDF)
Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Key Messages

• The public is using Twitter for real-time information exchange and for expressing emotional support during a variety of crises, such as wildfires,1-3 earthquakes,4-6 floods,3,13 hurricanes,21 political protests,11, 25-27 mass shootings,15, 17 and communicable-disease tracking.31 By encouraging proactive standardization of hashtags, emergency responders may be able to reduce a big-data challenge and better leverage crowdsourced information for operational planning and response.

• Twitter is the primary social media platform discussed in this Think Brief. However, the use of hashtags has spread to other social media platforms, including Sina Weibo, Facebook, Google+ and Diaspora. As a result, the ideas behind hashtag standardization may have a much larger sphere of influence than just this one platform.

• Three hashtag standards are encouraged and discussed: early standardization of the disaster name (e.g., #Fay), how to report non-emergency needs (e.g., #PublicRep) and requesting emergency assistance (e.g., #911US).

• As well as standardizing hashtags, emergency response agencies should encourage the public to enable Global Positioning System (GPS) when tweeting during an emergency. This will provide highly detailed information to facilitate response.

• Non-governmental groups, national agencies and international organizations should discuss the potential added value of monitoring social media during emergencies. These groups need to agree who is establishing the standards for a given country or event, which agency disseminates these prescriptive messages, and who is collecting and validating the incoming crowdsourced reports.

• Additional efforts should be pursued regarding how to best link crowdsourced information into emergency response operations and logistics. . If this information will be collected, the teams should be ready to act on it in a timely manner.

Hat tip: ResearchBuzz

Ukraine: politcal parties and the EU

January 15, 2015 Comments off

Ukraine: politcal parties and the EU (PDF)
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

Ukraine’s political landscape mirrors the country’s deep divide between the West and Russia. The main result of the parliamentary elections on 26 October 2014 was the victory of Ukraine’s pro-European parties. The ‘European Ukraine Coalition’ took office amid mounting economic and (Russian) military pressure on one side, and urgent calls for reforms and ‘lustration’ on the other.

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