December Updates for GRA Organizations

GRA Reporter for December 2012

News and publications for GRA organizations

Save the Date — 2013 GRA Conference

The 2013 GRA conference will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from Sunday evening, July 28, through noon Wednesday, July 31.  While the full conference schedule has not yet been determined, education reform is likely to be the topic of at least one panel discussion given that Milwaukee is home to the oldest private school choice program in the country.  In addition, Wisconsin’s landmark public sector collective bargaining reforms and their impacts on local governments and school districts also is a likely discussion topic.  Accommodations will be provided at the Hotel Metro in Downtown Milwaukee at the reasonable cost of $129.99 per night.  Those wishing to arrive early also can partake in the German Fest at Milwaukee’s famous Summerfest grounds on July 27-28.


We Are Among Esteemed Company!

The Public Policy Forum in Milwaukee celebrates its 100th Anniversary in 2013.  PPF hosted it annual meeting this week and the local press took notice: See "Just the Facts" about Public Policy Forum and A century of research that makes government better.  Please join the GRA Board of Trustees in congratulating PPF staff and board members, past and present, for this milestone accomplishment.


GRA Membership

The GRA Board of Trustees is working to increase membership in GRA by extending an invitation to prospective members to join us in Milwaukee for this year's public policy conference at an reduced rate.  If you are aware of organizations or individuals in your state or others that is doing work resembling that performed by present GRA members and organization, please contact GRA President Eric Lupher to discuss extending this generous invitation to the appropriate people.

GRA Bibliography

The following papers were published by GRA organizations in December.  If the papers your organization is publishing are not appearing on these monthly emails, please contact Eric Lupher so that we can be sure to remedy this problem.

Illinois Fiscal Policy Council and Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois

The November/December 2012 issue of "Tax Facts" includes articles discussing the personal property replacement tax in Illinois and its interaction with the corporate tax rate and whether Medicaid spending in Illinois is equitably reimbursed by the federal government.

Additionally, during legislative sessions the Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois publishes "TFI Report from the Capitol," a weekly summary of legislative and administrative developments as well as recent reports on tax and fiscal issues.

Civic Federation

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District FY2013 Tentative Budget: Analysis and Recommendations
The Civic Federation supported the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District's fiscal year 2013proposed budget of $1.1 billion which continued a comprehensive effort to control rising personnel costs. The budget holds the tax-capped portion of the District's property tax levy flat and reflects recent efforts by the District to address underfunding of its pension and healthcare costs. While praising the overall direction of the budget, the Federation is concerned with the District's practice of budgeting well in excess of anticipated expenditures for its Reserve Claim Fund and made recommendations to improve the transparency of the various versions of the budget.

Chicago Transit Authority President's Proposed FY2013 Operating Budget: Analysis and Recommendations
The Civic Federation strongly supported the Chicago Transit Authority's proposed FY2013 budget of $1.4 billion as a structurally balanced plan based on shared sacrifice by union members, riders and CTA management. The budget implements several prudent and sustainable steps including a targeted fare increase. The new proposed fare structure maintains base fares but increases rates for fare passes, generating much needed recurring revenue for the CTA while aligning pass fares closer to the national average.

Chicago Park District FY2013 Budget: Analysis and Recommendations
The Civic Federation supported the $410.9 million FY2013 Chicago Park District budget for limiting spending increases and continuing the District's effort to eliminate its structural deficit by FY2015. By using prudent alternatives to raising taxes, the District will be able to hold its property tax levy relatively flat for the eighth consecutive year.

The Civic Federation remains concerned, however, that efforts to eliminate the structural deficit may be offset by the District's continued reliance on one-time revenues to cover operating expenses. The Federation strongly urged the Chicago Park District to work with the City of Chicago and Illinois General Assembly to implement comprehensive pension reform based on the proposal outlined by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in May 2012.

Other Publications:
The Civic Federation's two blogs had a total of seven posts in December: and Topics included new proposed legislation to reform State of Illinois pensions and summaries of the recommendations made to local governments during the 2013 budget season.

Center for Governmental Research

What Supports 3rd Grade Reading in Rochester?

Potential Opportunities and Actions for ROC the Future
To support the launch of Rochester NY's "cradle to career" initiative, CGR documented the community supports that contribute to children reading on grade level by Grade 3, which the initiative targets as a critical indicator of children's success in life. The report describes key issues, highlights promising practices, and identifies networks to leverage. A companion document was developed to help the work groups as they plan community solutions.

Evaluation of Potential Governance Structures and Shared Services: Town and Village of Ossining, NY
CGR analyzed the potential fiscal impacts of a range of structural alternatives for the Westchester County, NY community of Ossining, which currently is serviced by town and village governments.

Village of Norwood Dissolution Study, Plan and Alternatives
The village board of Norwood, NY engaged CGR in 2012 to assess a range of options for the future of its own village - including village dissolution, shared services with neighboring municipalities, and creating a new town.

Other Publications (briefs, memos, blogs)
Center for Governmental Research
CGR's Policy Wonk blog houses weekly "CGR Briefs" postings.  Two posts were made in December.

N.C. Center for Public Policy Research

The Center released its journal, North Carolina Insight, featuring research in its ongoing project on mental health reform.  This issue of the journal is entitled, The State of Mental Health Reform in North Carolina. The report includes the first independent evaluation of a statewide initiative to purchase beds and build capacity for mental health patients in crisis at local hospitals across North Carolina.  The goal of the program is to treat patients in crisis close to home where support networks are already in place, keeping patients out of hospital emergency rooms and the state psychiatric hospitals.  This public-private partnership may be a model for other states.

Public Policy Forum

Passing the Test, But Making the Grade? An independent third-party analysis
This in-depth examination of the Milwaukee Public Schools' (MPS) financial condition uses a fiscal evaluation system developed by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) that allows trend analysis and comparisons between governments. The report found that the District's fiscal outlook has improved from a few years ago due to significant changes to employee benefits and a focus on implementing operational efficiencies. However, MPS still faces significant challenges, particularly related to its relative lack of fiscal options in comparison to other area governments.

Pathways to Employment: Exploring the activities and resources of Milwaukee's workforce development system
"Pathways to Employment" analyzes Milwaukee's workforce development system. It focuses particularly on the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board (MAWIB) and the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), the city's prominent workforce development entities. The report was released in follow up to a July 2012 examination of federal and state workforce development funding. It concludes that while coordination and cohesion among workforce development entities has improved since the creation of the MAWIB, there is a need for better coordination between the city's economic development priorities and the needs of the unemployed.

Other Publications
The Public Policy Forum's "Milwaukee Talkie" blog had three posts in December: Posts included a discussion of the PPF's top five research findings of 2012.

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