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Best Practices in Pension Reform: Lessons Learned from Successful Reformers

November 19, 2014 Comments off

Best Practices in Pension Reform: Lessons Learned from Successful Reformers
Source: Reason Foundation

This report assesses the lessons learned from various efforts to reform public employee pensions in jurisdictions across the United States. It draws on the experience of policymakers, officials and campaigners in Michigan, Alaska, Utah, Rhode Island, San Diego and San Jose to outline a series of best practices that will equip a willing and motivated pension reformer with the tools he or she needs to bring about substantive change.

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Federal School Finance Reform: Moving Toward Title I Funding Following the Child

October 24, 2014 Comments off

Federal School Finance Reform: Moving Toward Title I Funding Following the Child
Source: Reason Foundation

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed into law in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty.” The Act was designed to help disadvantaged students meet challenging state academic standards. Originally authorized in 1970, the ESEA has been reauthorized routinely through the early 2000s. The last authorization of ESEA came in the form of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which expired in 2007.

While Congress has not reauthorized the ESEA since the expiration of NCLB, most ESEA programs still receive appropriations. As it is currently written in federal statutes, the ESEA contains eight titles each directing federal funding toward different initiatives, all of which aim to improve education for disadvantaged students. At the crux of the ESEA is the Title I program, as it is the most far-reaching and heavily funded. Where other titles under the ESEA outline grants to states for specific initiatives—like teacher training, school choice, English language instruction or state assessments—Title I grants go toward any and all students who qualify as low-income.

The Title I program has fallen under scrutiny in the last decade. A common complaint is that stipulations in the legislation do not address funding inequities between Title I and non-Title I schools.

Ranking Each State’s Highway Conditions and Cost-Effectiveness: Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota Are Best; Hawaii, Alaska and New Jersey Are Worst

October 23, 2014 Comments off

Ranking Each State’s Highway Conditions and Cost-Effectiveness: Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota Are Best; Hawaii, Alaska and New Jersey Are Worst
Source: Reason Foundation

More money is going to state highways, but there has been very little progress in improving their condition according to the 21st Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation.

“Many of the easiest repairs and fixes to state highway and bridge systems have already been made and the rate of progress is slowing down,” said David T. Hartgen, lead author of the Annual Highway Report since 1984. “A widening gap also seems to be emerging between states that are still making improvements and a few states that are really falling behind on highway maintenance and repairs.”

Spending on state-owned roads totaled $132 billion in 2012, up 6 percent from 2011. Spending varied wildly from state to state according to the Annual Highway Report. South Carolina and West Virginia spent just $39,000 per mile of road in 2012 while New Jersey spent over $2 million per state-controlled mile. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, California and Florida were the next biggest spenders, outlaying more than $500,000 per state-controlled mile.

Pension Reform Handbook: A Starter Guide for Reformers

August 27, 2014 Comments off

Pension Reform Handbook: A Starter Guide for Reformers
Source: Reason Foundation

Depending on what assumptions you use, current state and local government workers will earn between $4 trillion and $8 trillion in retirement benefits by the time they retire. But jurisdictions across the nation—from small special districts to large state governments—face a serious problem: in some cases, pension systems have only a fraction of the assets they need to meet their obligations. The existence of massive unfunded liabilities undermines the soundness of pension plans and threatens the fiscal stability of governments.

In almost every case, dealing with these serious problems is guaranteed to be a complex and politically contentious process. But the good news is that a number of jurisdictions have paved the way for substantive reform, and several state and local governments now stand as models from which others can learn.

This handbook aims to capture the experience of policymakers in those jurisdictions and bring together the best practices that have emerged from their reform efforts, as well as the important lessons learned. By presenting these alongside the general principles and approaches that work to reform public policy, this handbook represents a “what you need to know” starter guide for anyone planning to reform their jurisdiction’s pension system.

Annual Privatization Report 2014

May 9, 2014 Comments off

Annual Privatization Report 2014
Reason Foundation

Now in its 27th year of publication, Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report is the world’s longest running and most comprehensive report on privatization news, developments and trends.

Annual Privatization Report 2014 details the latest on privatization and government reform initiatives at all levels of government.

Transit Utilization and Traffic Congestion: Is There a Connection?

January 24, 2014 Comments off

Transit Utilization and Traffic Congestion: Is There a Connection?
Source: Reason Foundation

+ Statistical analysis of the 74 largest urbanized areas in the U.S. over a 26-year period suggests that increasing transit utilization does not lead to a reduction in traffic congestion; nor does decreasing transit utilization lead to an increase in traffic congestion.

+ Policies designed to promote transit utilization can in certain instances increase traffic congestion—as appears to have been the case in Portland, Oregon.

+ Vehicle-miles traveled per freeway lane-mile is strongly correlated with traffic congestion: the more people drive relative to available freeway capacity, the worse congestion gets.

+ Data from New York and Los Angeles indicate that the most effective way to increase transit utilization is by reducing fares, as well as by improving basic, pre-existing service.

Interstate 2.0: Modernizing the Interstate Highway System Via Toll Finance

October 3, 2013 Comments off

Interstate 2.0: Modernizing the Interstate Highway System Via Toll Finance
Source: Reason Foundation

The Interstate highway system is America’s most important surface transportation system. With just 2.5% of the nation’s lane-miles of highway, it handles some 25% of all vehicle miles of travel. It served to open the country to trade and travel, enabling the just-in-time logistics system at the heart of U.S. goods movement. Yet the first-generation Interstate system is wearing out. Most of the pavement has exceeded or is nearing its 50-year design life, meaning that nearly the entire system will need reconstruction over the next two decades. In addition, more than a hundred interchanges are major bottlenecks, needing redesign and reconstruction, and about 200 corridors need additional lanes to cope with current and projected traffic.

The need for massive investment to transform the first-generation Interstate into what this report calls Interstate 2.0 occurs just as our 20th-century highway funding system—based on fuel taxes and state and federal highway trust funds—is running out of gas. Steady increases in vehicle fuel economy, the lack of inflation indexing of fuel tax rates, and political gridlock over increasing fuel tax rates all make it very difficult even to maintain current pavement and bridge conditions and prevent congestion from getting even worse. The transportation community agrees that we need to phase out fuel taxes and replace them with a more sustainable funding source, generally agreed to be mileage-based user fees of some sort. But no consensus exists on how and when to do this.

This study seeks to address both problems: replacing the aging Interstate system with a 21st-century Interstate 2.0 and taking the first major step toward implementing mileage-based user fees. It proposes that the United States finance the Interstate 2.0 project based on per-mile tolls collected using all-electronic tolling (AET). Over several decades, the transformation of the Interstate system, state by state, would convert at least one-fourth of all travel from per-gallon fuel taxes to per-mile charging.

The study makes quantitative estimates for each state of the cost of reconstructing the existing Interstates, identifies specific corridors in each state that need widening, and estimates the cost of doing so. Reconstruction is estimated at $589 billion in 2010 dollars and lane additions at $394 billion, for a total 2010 cost of $983 billion. To get a handle on the feasibility of toll financing, the study models a tolling system based on 3.5¢/ mile for cars and 14¢/mile for trucks, indexed annually for inflation. Using state-by-state estimates of annual growth in travel by cars and by trucks, over a 35-year period, it calculates the net present value (NPV) of toll revenue and compares that with the net present value of construction and reconstruction costs. Overall, the NPV of revenue equals 99% of the NPV of cost, indicating that the overall system is likely to be toll- financeable.

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