Fundamentals of Public Budgeting and Finance

That is the title of a recent e-book through Springer-Link by Aman Khan (Texas Tech University). If you are at a university with the right subscription, you might be able to access it for free, but is $25 otherwise.

If I was teaching an undergraduate public budgeting and finance introductory course, I would likely adopt it as the main textbook.  It is budget heavy by design and therefore lighter on the tax side, but it has a chapter on evaluating a tax system and another that covers the different means of raising revenue through alternative instruments. Depending on the course and its role in the curriculum, I might also find it light on federalism and accounting, but those are hardly necessary additions so I think it is overall an excellent textbook for undergraduates that is easy on student budgets.

Disclaimer: I came across the book by Google Scholar recommendation. There was no contact with the author or publisher, and so no undue influence for the preparation of this post.

The Intra-Conservative Debate over the Child Tax Credit

There is a bipartisan bill proposed by Mitt Romney and Michael Bennet being billed as “basic income plan for kids.” Here is Vox coverage, but I also found interesting this National Review article by Robert Verbruggen outlining the broader debate over its merits merits of the child tax credit. To summarize the debate over the child tax credit:

  1. Traditional economic conservatives see it as an overstep of government, and think it should be abandoned.
  2. More status-quo conservatives want it retained, particularly as long as it is partially refunded to resemble a tax break instead of welfare.
  3. Less status-quo oriented conservatives want it made to be fully refundable and paid for by consolidating other welfare spending, particularly those that generate “benefit cliff’s.”
  4. Others want it made it fully refundable, as it is a pro-family enabling device, and lay some blame on FDR for the reason the US doesn’t already have this.

The second point contained this idea, which was one I had not heard before:

It used to be that parents would pay to raise children and then reap the rewards when their kids cared for them in old age; now, thanks to Social Security and Medicare, parents still pay to raise kids, but in retirement they rely collectively on the income of the next generation. We’ve socialized the benefits of having children but not the costs, and the child credit helps to compensate parents for some of the costs. Put bluntly, raising children should count as a tax payment, and should be subtracted from the taxes parents otherwise owe.

Call For Proposals: Public Finance Challenges in the New Decade

The University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy is sponsoring and hosting a spring miniconference in College Park this April. This is part of the loose consortium of schools that have hosted in recent springs dating back to 2015 (University of Illinois-Chicago, Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School, Indiana University’s O’Neill School of Public & Environmental Affairs, and University of Illinois-Chicago’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs). The quality of presentations and discussion is very high, people really bring their best work. The conference is April 24-25, 2020 and proposals are due February 1, 2020. You can find the Call for Proposals below the line.


University of Maryland School of Public Policy Header Logo

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

Public Finance Challenges in the New Decade
April 24-25, 2020
University of Maryland School of Public Policy
College Park, Maryland

The start of a new decade gives us an opportunity to look ahead and reflect on the challenges that will face us as a field, as a nation, and globally, between now and 2030. What challenges will characterize field of public finance and governments of the world in the 2020’s? Governments will continue to struggle with how to finance the delivery of public services, the appropriate role of different levels of government in delivering those services, fulfilling past promises, and evaluating how well we are meeting the demands of citizens. In addition, public service, and therefore public finance, will be increasingly defined by interactions between the various sectors—public, private and nonprofit—and innovative mechanisms that involve all of these sectors. Data and methods available for evaluation and forecasting will continue to advance as will technology for the public sector. We invite papers that focus on the broad challenges theme in the areas of public budgeting, taxation, municipal securities, public expenditure evaluation, fiscal federalism, financial management, organizational structure, and more.

We seek new, forward-looking papers that will encourage and push the debate about public finance in this new decade. We invite proposals for papers that examine these and other policy issues at the national and subnational levels in domestic and international contexts utilizing a variety of empirical techniques. Proposals will be reviewed and competitively selected.

Possible areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Behavioral responses to taxation
  • Use of big data and data analytics for public budgeting and finance
  • Innovative methodologies in public sector evaluation and performance management
  • Sorting out responsibilities among levels of government
  • Municipal securities
  • Contingent liabilities, such as pensions
  • Nontraditional means of service delivery

Deadline for proposals: February 1, 2020

Proposals should include title, abstract, authors, and contact information for the submitting authors. Abstracts should not be longer than two pages. Accepted participants will be notified by March 1, 2020.

Participants may be asked to serve as discussants. Travel reimbursements will be available to cover the cost of travel (up to $600) and hotel expenses for one author per paper. Meals will be provided.

Proposals should be submitted to Dr. Philip Joyce at pgjoyce@umd.edu

Location & Schedule
The conference will take place at the College Park Marriott on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park. The conference will begin at 8:00 am on Friday, April 24th and will end at 1:30 pm on Saturday, April 25th. Registration, Hotel and Travel Information will be available in March 2020.

University of Maryland School of Public Policy
Situated in the nation’s capital at the crossroads where local and global issues intersect and where decision-makers address the world’s most pressing challenges, the University of Maryland School of Public Policy prepares students for careers advancing the public good across sectors. The School recently broke ground on a new building at the heart of campus, enabling our fast-growing community to continue impacting fields ranging from leadership and public management to sustainability to philanthropy and nonprofit. Drawing upon the strengths of a top-tier research university, the School of Public Policy brings cutting-edge science and technology developments into the public domain.

ABFM 2019 Curro Award Winner: Yoon Jung Choi (Syracuse)

Yoon-Jung Choi (Syracuse University – Maxwell School) is this year’s Michael Curro Student Paper Award Winner for her paper “Property Tax Interaction Among Overlapping Local Jurisdictions: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from School Bond Referenda.” She will be presenting on Friday at 4-5:15. John Yinger is her faculty adviser.

Interesting FYI: I worked with Choi in her last year of her MPA here at SPEA on a readings course. As part of that I had her do a meta-literature review of the two most recent years (2015-2016 at the time) of the Journal of Public Economics, National Tax Journal, and Public Budgeting & Finance. The database of articles is here and the her “three journal summary” that explains the themes and differences of the journals is here. It is quite good and I try to remember to share it periodically with the public finance doctoral students.

ABFM Doctoral Student Profiles: Ani Ter-Mkrtchyan

In preparation for ABFM’s upcoming conference, I am doing a series of profiles on the doctoral students on the job market.

Ani Ter-Mkrtchyan (University of Oklahoma – Political Science) will be presenting “Political Environments, Public Finance Outcomes and Financial Development” at the conference. Her dissertation (chaired by Hank Jenkins-Smith) is on Governance, Ideology and the Nuclear Waste Stalemate in the USA. I have the first part of her job market paper, “Global Financial System Outcomes after 2008: A Longitudinal Comparison,” here is the abstract:

The paper examines the condition of global financial systems before and after the 2008 financial crisis that was felt worldwide. Using a comparative perspective, we assess longitudinal trends in the functioning of the financial systems to explore the nature of financial market recovery and how financial system outcomes may have been on a different trajectory after 2008 than they were before 2008. We measure financial system outcomes across four dimensions: financial depth, access, efficiency, and stability. In addition, we compare differences in the level of development of a country to explore how variations in the external environment for a country’s financial system influenced the rate of decline in 2008 as well as the rate of recovery after 2008. Our findings indicate that the recovery of financial system outcomes was stronger for developed countries as opposed to transition and developing economies. As suspected, we also find evidence for the impact of the environmental context on financial system outcomes. In particular, the correlations are stronger for regulatory quality and the rule of law: political stability seems to have no effect on financial system outcomes for the 180 cases in our study.

Visit Ani’s website to learn more.

ABFM Doctoral Student Profiles: Chuanyi Guo

In preparation for ABFM’s upcoming conference, I am doing a series of profiles on the doctoral students on the job market.

Chuanyi Guo (University of Illinois-Chicago, Department of Economics) is presenting “The Impact of State Intervention on School District Fiscal Performance: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design” on Saturday morning at 8am. This is also his job market paper, which has an R&R at the National Tax Journal, and the abstract is as follows:

State monitoring and intervention has been implemented to reveal and address fiscal problems in local governments, yet we know very little about its role in promoting financial performance in a causal sense. This paper estimates the causal effect of state intervention on fiscal performance of monitored school districts by using district-level administrative data from Illinois State Board of Education. Utilizing the system design that only low-performing districts receive intervention from the state, I employ a regression discontinuity design based on financial indicators that are introduced in the system to evaluate fiscal positions and determine intervention. Results indicate that there are precisely zero effects on future financial outcomes of school districts. However, in heterogeneity analysis, I document statistically significant positive impacts on financial indicators reflecting long-run fiscal health in a relatively long term for districts with certain characteristics. For elementary school districts, I show that state intervention improves the long-term debt capacity remaining by 15-20 percentage points more on average for districts just receiving the intervention in three to four years since the intervention, compared to those barely not. This indicates that they are less reliant on issuing long-term debt in order to meet obligations. Similarly, among accrual basis school districts, I find that the intervention decreases the value of Expenditure to Revenue Ratio by 0.035-0.050 unit more for districts barely receiving the intervention, suggesting that their budget is becoming more structurally balanced.

His dissertation committee is chaired by Darren Lubotsky and David Merriman. Check out Guo’s website to find his CV and other working papers.

ABFM Doctoral Student Profiles: Juniper Katz

In preparation for ABFM’s upcoming conference, I am doing a series of profiles on the doctoral students on the job market.

Juniper Katz is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado Denver. She will be presenting “Built to Last: Endowment Building Strategies and Repercussions for Charitable Nonprofits” in the 11:00am Thursday session.

Juniper is an environment and nonprofit scholar with applied and academic research experience. Juniper has two areas of research. One focuses on nonprofit financial management and the other focuses on citizen-state interactions in environmental policy settings.

Her dissertation, The Effects of Land Conservation Policy on the Creation of Public Values, examines how the process of land conservation policy implementation not only produces policy outcomes, but also changes how citizens and nonprofits conceive of their obligations to society. Using original surveys, text analysis, and content coding, she finds that agency managers use instrumental policy purposes to define a set of preferred values that are conveyed to landowners during implementation. The effect of such value conveyance was the voluntary adoption of new conservation practices by landowners. When asked why agency value promotion was meaningful, landowners report an increased awareness of the public benefit of their actions. These insights expand conventional understandings of democracy by including public administration in the creation and enforcement of public values.

She has a paper from the dissertation under peer review. In addition to the dissertation paper, Juniper has several other publications:

  • A solo-authored paper that examines the effects of policy belief on the perceptions of actors engaged in debates over hydraulic fracking in New York was published in Review of Policy Research in 2018.
  • A co-authored publication in the Journal Environmental Policy & Planning examines advocacy coalitions engaged in policy change in Indian shale gas development.
  • A publication in Review of Policy Research analyzes the use of policy narratives in assessing the politics of climate and air issues.

Prior to returning to graduate school, Juniper worked for ten years in land and water conservation and was a nonprofit executive director. In that work, she raised over $5 million in grant awards for operations and program support from local, state, and federal sources and protected over 49,000 acres of agricultural, natural, and recreational land. Her applied experience informs her nonprofit and environmental policy research and teaching.

Juniper’s website and CV can be found at: juniperkatz.com

ABFM Doctoral Student Profiles: Andrew Duggan

In preparation for ABFM’s upcoming conference, I am doing a series of profiles on the doctoral students on the job market.

Andrew “Andy” Duggan is a fourth year PhD candidate, and a Graduate Teaching Assistant of Public Policy and Administration at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs in Richmond, Virginia.  He’ll be presenting “State Environmental Agency Budgets: Providing a Portal into Focal Determinants and Key Moderating Roles” in the Saturday 9:30am session. His key research interest—and dissertation under the supervision of Professor Wenli Yan—examines political, legal, and institutional determinants to national and subnational agency appropriations drawing from the fields of public budgeting, public administration, economics, and environmental policy.  Current research efforts also include exploring the linkages between risk perceptions, policy processes, and governmental responsiveness to civil society in the context of human and ecological risks.  A separate qualitative research project underway investigates the participation and utilization of public health benefit programs drawing from a behavioral framework.  In addition, he is working on pilot research in the area of alternative delivery through the lens of principle agent theory; public choice theory; and transactional cost economics to explain barriers to privatization of information technology functions.

Andy has also has a co-authored article on the costs and benefits of distributed solar energy in the Journal of Environmental Management and Planning. You can find his CV here.

ABFM Doctoral Student Profiles: Felipe Lozano Rojas

In preparation for ABFM’s upcoming conference, I am doing a series of profiles on the doctoral students on the job market.

Felipe Lozano Rojas (Indiana University – School of Public & Environmental Affairs) is on the ABFM conference schedule in several places:

  • Thursday, 1:45 PM, “Getting My Sugar Back: Effects of Soda Taxes Beyond Beverages”
  • Friday, 4PM, “Local Governments Fiscal Responses to the Opioid Epidemics”
  • Saturday, 8AM, “Do Sin Taxes Help Strengthen Local Government Finances?”

Maureen Pirog and I serve as Felipe’s dissertation committee chairs. Felipe’s minor was in data science, so big data topics (e.g. machine learning) are prevalent throughout his research that otherwise targets the intersection of public finance as social policy. His papers are also very long in their interrogation of the the topics he’s writing on. Here is a draft of one of his recent working papers:

Taxes on sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) are proposed with the promise to improve public health outcomes as people curve SSB consumption and thus, sugar intake, with price hikes, but they also come with an embedded equity concern due to their regressive nature. We evaluate the soda tax introduced by Berkeley in 2015 with two questions in mind: What has been the effect of the policy in actual sugar intake, and what are the differences in treatment effects across income groups. This article is the first to get closer to the aim of the policy by looking at actual sugar intake, feeding retailer POS data with the matched Nutrition Fact information on sugar. I find that sugar intake has fallen, but at a lower rate if compared to liquid content changes, an indication that the policy has provided an incentive to buy SSBs with higher sugar concentration. Furthermore, the evaluation is incomplete if equity is not addressed as well, especially when the public health concern affects low-income households disproportionately. By taking advantage of the richness in POS data, I follow baskets representing income groups’ SSB consumption. We find that the reduction in sugar and liquid consumption has been fairly homogeneous across the different baskets, with the middle income groups’ baskets facing the deepest reduction in consumption of sugar and liquid and the lowest hike in prices.

Felipe has couple of published papers and a recent revise and resubmit at National Tax Journal on the incidence of state sales tax holidays. He also has papers under review on cash subsidies for college loans using data from his work at the World Bank, which may prove to be informative to policy debates currently under way. His website and CV are available here.

ABFM Doctoral Student Profile: JoEllen Pope

In preparation for ABFM’s upcoming conference, I am doing a series of profiles on the doctoral students on the job market.

JoEllen Pope (UNC-Charlotte, Public Policy) is presenting “New Public Disaster Management: Does Managerial Discretion Impact Organizational Performance” in the 8:00 session on Friday. She has a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Emergency Management. She is a practicing Certified Public Accountant with over twenty years’ experience and served as a firefighter for seven years. Her dissertation, supervised by Dr. Suzanne M. Leland, is titled Flooded with Complexity: Do Organizational Structural Complexity, Coordination, and Managerial Discretion Impact Natural Disaster Preparedness?.  JoEllen will defend her dissertation Fall 2019. She has a publication on political influences over county-level election administration expenditures in the American Journal of Political Science, two at Social Science Quarterly, one at Urban Affairs Review, and another three papers under review. JoEllen researches public finance, emergency preparedness and disaster, and local election administration finance. Here is the abstract of her job market paper, which is the paper being presented at ABFM:

Between 1953 and February 2017, United States presidents declared 2288 major natural disaster declarations and 369 emergency declarations (FEMA, 2017). Hurricane Katrina alone affected 31 colleges and universities in the areas along the Gulf Coast (Kapucu & Khosa, 2013). Improved preparedness performance can impact response effectiveness (Kapucu, 2008). Organizational performance is a global issue regarding how management influences the performance of public organizations and how we measure it (Boyne et. al., 2006). Also, allocation of resources and decision-making are key areas of research (Pugh et al., 1968). Previous literature on public management presents a gap regarding institutions of higher education (IHE). This is especially important since public and private nonprofit colleges include over 90% of enrollment (NCES, 2016). Regarding IHEs and performance of the natural disaster preparedness function, this study asks: How do we measure preparedness outputs? How does budgetary discretion affect performance? How does the centralization of decision-making affect performance? and How does organizational red tape affect it? New public management (NPM) reforms to improve effectiveness and efficient have impacted public sector over last 25 years (Christensen & Laegreid, 2011; Pollitt & Bouckaert, 2004). As a part of NPM, public managerialism claims that there is a similar set of management skills and methods that are applicable to public organizations and there is a shift in emphasis from inputs to outputs and outcomes (Pollitt, 1998; Christensen & Laegreid, 2011). This study uses survey data merged with secondary data on IHEs to perform exploratory factor and regression analysis to answer these questions.

Find more of JoEllen Pope’s research, teaching, and interests see her website here.