state government

What’s the Matter With Kansas – and Connecticut?

In 2012, the state of Kansas under Gov. Sam Brownback passed a large tax cut. Despite this massive fiscal stimulus, the state’s economy actually underperformed the nation during much of the subsequent period and the cuts blew a gigantic $900 million hole in the state’s budget.

Finally the legislature cried uncle. It passed a $1.2 billion tax hike. Brownback vetoed it but the Republican dominated legislature overrode the veto.  read more »

Book Review: "The Fate of the States: The New Geography of American Prosperity" by Meredith Whitney

In December 2010, Meredith Whitney, the financial analyst, appeared on 60 Minutes, where she predicted that the United States would see between 50 and 100 defaults of municipal bonds.  read more »

9-Year Run: CEOs Rank Texas #1, California #50

Each year, ranks states based upon their business competitiveness. The latest rankings have just been published in 2013: Best and Worst States for Business.

Texas on Top: For the 9th Year in a Row  read more »

A Lasting Solution to the Transportation Funding Dilemma

President Obama's FY 2014 budget request includes $77 billion for the Department of Transportation and an additional $50 billion  "for immediate transportation investments." His next transportation bill to follow the current MAP-21, calls for a 25 percent increase in funding over current levels and assumes a transfer of $214 billion to the trust fund over six years "to maintain trust fund solvency and pay for increased outlays." To offset this spending, the Administration proposes using the "savings" or "peace dividend&quot  read more »

States Seek to Become More Self-Reliant for Infrastructure

During his March 29 visit to the privately built and financed PortMiami tunnel project, President Obama unveiled a new infrastructure plan. His latest proposal---costing $21 billion--- includes a renewed call for a National Infrastructure Bank capitalized at $10 billion,  a  $7 billion  "America Fast Forward Bonds" program modeled after the former Build America Bonds;  and a sum of $4 billion in direct loans and loan guarantees.  read more »

The Moonbeam Express

Seldom has public opinion and expert judgment been more unified than in its opposition to  the California high-speed rail project.    The project has been criticized by its own Peer Review Group, the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO), the California State Auditor,  the State Treasurer and a group of independent  experts  (Enthoven, Grindley, Warren et al.).  In addition, the bullet train has come under severe criticism by influential state legislators and  by members of the state's congressional delegation.  read more »

A Devastating Verdict for California HSR

Like many other observers, we have found the California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group to have made a convincing case for a fresh look at the feasibility of the California high-speed rail project. The group's report was issued as eleven House Democrats – eight from California – joined an earlier request from twelve Republican House members for an independent GAO investigation of the embattled project.   read more »

The Impact of Federal Cutbacks

During my college days, I had the opportunity to interview a local government official tasked with conducting various disaster response programs. North Dakota had, at the time, been dealing with severe flood issues for nearly a decade, and the interviewee had vast experience dealing with the ins and outs of working within the system to find mitigation solutions. Asked about the challenges of having to deal with a multitude of state and federal agencies, he informed me that the most vital contacts he had were at the federal level.  read more »

Adjusting to Fiscal and Political Realities in Transportation Funding

As this is written, we do not know the exact level of funding the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will propose in its draft legislation, to be unveiled in the first week of July and marked up the following week. Nor do we know what level of funding the Senate Finance Committee will come up with. But we do know that both Houses will be obliged to propose far less funding than is contained in the current (FY 2010) surface transportation budget of $52 billion ($41 billion for highways, $11 billion for transit).  read more »

Confirming International Research: Hudson Tunnel Costs Explode

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is looking like a prophet now. In late October, the Governor cancelled a new tunnel across the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York City, because of the potential for cost overruns, which would be the responsibility of New Jersey taxpayers. By that point, the cost of the tunnel had escalated at least $1 billion to $9.7 billion.  read more »