January 2013 Updates for GRA Organizations

GRA Reporter for January 2012

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.  See More Details


Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama
Advocates from both the public and private sector are making a renewed push to spread family resource centers around Alabama. These non-profit resource centers collaborate with existing social service providers to create a one-stop shop for individuals and families in need of help with life skills, education, transportation, and job training and placement. The centers, which are required to track performance and meet the accountability standards of a statewide network, vary according to the needs and resources of their host community but share a philosophy of moving families toward stability and self-sufficiency. The full report can be read in the PARCA Quarterly Winter 2013.

Illinois Fiscal Policy Council and Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois
The Taxpayers' Federation released a statement about pension reform in Illinois in early January and testified before a hearing of the Personnel and Pensions committee of the Illinois House of Representatives on Senate Bill 1673.

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 (Chicago)
Joint Statement from Chicago Civic Groups Urging Pension Reform
At a press conference on January 3, 2013 the Civic Federation joined with a group of other civic organizations including the Better Government Association, the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Chicago Urban League to urge the Illinois General Assembly to embrace the bipartisan pension reform framework established by House Bill 6258. The Federation co-authored and signed a joint statement calling on the General Assembly to move forward on comprehensive pension reform without delay.

Estimated Effective Property Tax Rates 2001-2010: Selected Municipalities in Northeastern Illinois
This report compares effective property tax rates in selected communities around metropolitan Chicago and finds that effective tax rates in 2010 for residential and commercial properties rose for each of the 32 municipalities studied. Effective property tax rates are a measure of property tax burden for homeowners and businesses. They translate the tax rates on property tax bills into rates that reflect the percentage of full market value that a property owed in taxes for a given year.

The Civic Federation's two blogs had a total of nine posts in January: and

Bureau of Governmental Research (New Orleans)
On the Mayor’s Proposed S&WB Governance Reforms
In this release, BGR looks at Mayor Landrieu’s proposed Sewerage & Water Board governance reforms, with specific attention to the board member nomination process.

BGR Analyzes Proposed S&WB Rate Increases
In Time to Pay the Pipelayer? The Proposed S&WB Rate Increases in Perspective, BGR reviews a proposal by the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB) to raise water and sewer rates 10% a year for the next eight years. It examines the proposed water and sewer rate increases and their impacts on customers. It also examines the proposed uses of the additional funding and how far it will go in fixing the systems’ problems.

Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana
PAR Tax Advisory Group Principles and Recommendations
The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana established a Tax Advisory Group in November to consider tax policy reforms for Louisiana. The Group also anticipated that the governor would propose a tax reform agenda. So far the Group has discussed many, although by no means all, of the key issues and has heard from stakeholders, content experts and policy leaders. Administration officials have engaged in an open and constructive dialog with the Tax Advisory Group.

Boston Municipal Research Bureau
The Impact of Managed Care on the Gender Earnings Gap among Physicians
Important differences in labor market characteristics suggest that men and women physicians may be viewed as imperfect substitutes in the labor market. Concerns about efficiency and cost-cutting, which have led to the adoption of managed care practices, may have (unintentionally) favored female physicians. Using data from the Young Physicians Survey, the author compares changes in the gender earnings gap for physicians in states with high versus low managed care growth during the 1980s. She finds that the gender gap in hourly earnings among physicians in states with high managed care growth narrowed by 10 percentage points relative to states with low managed care growth. Moreover, Census data show that this finding holds only for physicians and not for other professions requiring advanced degrees. Further analysis shows that managed care appears to affect the relative earnings of male and female physicians by compressing the overall distribution of physician earnings. Together, these results suggest that the spread of managed care has been a factor in improving the relative earnings of female physicians. More broadly, these results suggest that market changes can have important consequences for the gender earnings gap when there are large pre-existing differences between men and women within a profession.

Worcester Regional Research Bureau
Academically Selective High Schools: Should Worcester Public Schools Have One?
Academically Selective High Schools: Should Worcester Public Schools Have One?  WRRB has published a new report which analyzes the pros and cons of academically selective high schools to determine whether the Worcester Public Schools (WPS) should establish one. It concludes that the system should have one for many reasons. Among them, students of high academic potential deserve a course of study that meets their needs and WPS has an obligation to fully develop the capacities of gifted students no less than of less talented ones. Such a school could become a community asset for both businesses and residents to live and work in Worcester.
Citizens Research Council of Michigan
Lessons from the Proposed Merger of Onekama Village with Onakama Township
In 2012, the Onekama community in Manistee County became the first village and township to use the provisions for a disincorporation commission provided in the General Law Village Act.  Based on CRC's experience working with the Onekama disincorporation commission, CRC had some recommendations to make as to how the process can be improved.  

Can dedicated millages and tax increment financing coexist in Michigan?
An analysis of Michigan's controversial tax increment financing systems.

Minnesota Taxpayers Association
After 86 years, the Minnesota Taxpayers Association has changed its name!  It is now the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence.  See the new website at

Here are some highlights:
Released on January 1, 2013, there is a tax policy primer entitled Taxing Decisions Matter: A Guide to Good Tax Policy

There is a bi-monthly publication called Fiscal Focus.  It was last issued on 11/2/2012 and entitled, Rewarmed or Reformed?  Minnesota Relaunches Performance Based Budgeting.  This issue also contains a report from Mark Haveman on the 105th Annual Conference on Taxation sponsored by the National Tax Association.

Published in September 2012, How Does Minnesota Compare? FY 2010 provides state-by-state rankings of state and local government revenues and spending.

A 50 State Property Tax Comparison Study (Payable Year 2011) was published in March 2012.

Citizens Budget Commission (New York)
Everybody's Doing It: Health Insurance Premium-Sharing by Employees and Retirees in the Public and Private Sectors
More than 90 percent of the New York City public employees and retirees are enrolled in health insurance plans that require no employee contribution toward the cost of their premiums. This report reviews the health insurance premium sharing policies for employees and retirees of the federal government, the State of New York and six large U.S. municipalities, to determine a reasonable level of contribution for the City.

CBC's Blog shows one new post for January, concerning state distribution of school aid.

5 Year Pocket Summary: New York City and New York State finances, Fiscal Year 2013-2014
A concise summary of State and City financial information (such as budgets, payroll, receipts).

CBC's 12 of 2012
A slideshow of infographics detailing New York State, City and MTA's fiscal successes and obstacles for 2012.

VP and Director of State Studies Elizabeth Lynam on Capitol Tonight Discussing the Governor's Budget Address
View a video of the appearance

Center for Governmental Research (NY)
CGR's Policy Wonk blog houses weekly "CGR Briefs" postings.
Post on hydrofracking was added in January.

Allegheny Conference (Pittsburgh)
PRA Post January 2013 -- 6 page report in fDi Magazine, "Pittsburgh's Progress: Rust Belt City Reinvents Itself"

Note from Dennis -- Health Care Competitiveness; International Attention for Our Region’s Comeback; "Top of the List" Reception; Female Leadership Programs  (January 8 2013)

Note from Bill: Happiness is Pittsburgh -- Pittsburgh named one of top three destinations to see in the world; and one of the happiest cities to work in (January 16 2013)

News Release: Transportation Statement -- Statement in support of comprehensive transportation funding proposed by Gov. Corbett (February 5 2013)

Note from Bill: Just Getting Started -- Kiplinger ranks Pittsburgh among "10 Great Cities to Start a Business" (February 6 2013)

Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations
Dealing with Blight: Strategies for Tennessee’s Communities
The Commission has released its report on blight-related legislation referred for study by the 107th General Assembly. The report concludes that there are a number of laws already on the books in Tennessee that seem to be adequate in dealing with blight. The difficulty that most communities have is finding the resources to use these laws effectively. It may be advantageous, however, to make four laws available in only certain communities applicable statewide.

Texas Taxpayers and Research Association
Texas Is a ___ Tax State
A look at the different tax burdens the state places on businesses and individuals.

Public Policy Forum (Milwaukee)
The Public Policy Forum kicked off its 100th anniversary celebration in January with its 2013 Annual Meeting and a newly redesigned website. PPF's anniversary drew significant attention from public officials and the Milwaukee media, joining in to celebrate a century of advocacy for good government.

The Public Policy Forum's "Milwaukee Talkie" blog had one post in January:
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