State and Local

State and Local

Research

Matthew Mitchell, Pavel A. Yakovlev | May 13, 2015
A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University shows that differences in these rules can have significant effects on policy. The study finds that states with separate taxing and spending committees spend less per capita than other states. Voters concerned about the growth of government may want to take a closer look at this phenomenon.
Erick M. Elder, Gary A. Wagner | Apr 15, 2015
A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University is the first to examine whether public pensions that are funded at various levels will have sufficient assets to pay all promised future benefits. The study also looks at the distribution of the potential accumulation of assets for pensions that do have sufficient assets. Examining PSERS and SERS using financial modeling over a period of years, the study presents two conclusions applicable to all public pensions.
Christopher Koopman, Thomas Stratmann | Mar 24, 2015
Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia currently limit entry or expansion of health care facilities through certificate-of-need (CON) programs. These programs prohibit health care providers from entering new markets or making changes to their existing capacity without first gaining the approval of state regulators.
Timothy Sandefur | Mar 24, 2015
In an article to be published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy in conjunction with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, legal scholar Timothy Sandefur explores the history, theory, and operation of CPCN laws, also known as “Competitor Veto” laws, focusing on evidence uncovered as part of litigation challenging such laws in Missouri and Kentucky. The article concludes that because these laws are designed to protect incumbent businesses, there must be reforms on the federal level to abolish them. Several possible reforms are considered, along with objections.
Christopher Koopman, Thomas Stratmann | Mar 03, 2015
While CON programs were intended to limit the supply of health care services within a state, proponents claim that the limits were necessary to either control costs or increase the amount of charity care being provided. However, 40 years of evidence demonstrate that these programs do not achieve their intended outcomes but rather decrease the supply and availability of health care services by limiting entry and competition. For policymakers in Florida, this situation presents an opportunity to reverse course and open the market for greater entry, more competition, and ultimately more options for those seeking care.
Adam J. Hoffer, Rejeana Gvillo, William F. Shughart II , Michael D. Thomas | Mar 03, 2015
This study provides a systematic analysis of selective consumption tax policy. We detail both the motivations behind selective consumption taxes and the policy’s shortcomings. Empirically, we explore how consumption of 12 goods—alcohol, cigarettes, fast food, items sold at vending machines, purchases of food away from home, cookies, cakes, chips, candy, donuts, bacon, and carbonated soft drinks—varies across the income distribution by calculating the goods’ income-expenditure elasticities.

Testimony & Comments

James Broughel | Sep 02, 2014
This year’s report makes several important improvements over reports from previous years. However, there are still a number of ways in which this report can be made more useful if it is to be a meaningful representation to Congress and the American public of the effects of the regulatory system in the United States.
Matthew Mitchell | Oct 04, 2011
Matthew Mitchell testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary about state governments' experiences with Balanced Budget Amendments.
Russell Roberts | Feb 16, 2011
Russell Roberts testified before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform on the second anniversary of the stimulus.
Eileen Norcross | Feb 09, 2011
Eileen Norcross testified before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the looming municipal debt crisis.
Richard Williams, Jerry Ellig, John Morrall | Jul 06, 2010
As always, OMB has produced a very thorough report based on the instructions provided in the Regulatory-Right-to Know Act. Nevertheless, it is time to re-examine this report to see if it can be made…
Jerry Brito | Mar 20, 2009
Senior Research Fellow Jerry Brito presents his ideas on transparency in the stimulus bill in this testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government…

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Speeches & Presentations

Expert Commentary

May 26, 2015

Consider, if you will, the administration's controversial initiatives on immigration, marijuana legalization, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and Common Core academic standards, climate change and "clean power," and the implementation of Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act (ACA): What do they all have in common? First, they are federalism initiatives that affect states in very significant ways (for their ostensible benefit, or to their demonstrable detriment). Second, Congress has nothing to do with any of this beyond writing checks and issuing press releases. Third, the programs operate at the absolute outer bounds of statutory law, and sometimes outside those bounds.
May 26, 2015

In inflation-adjusted terms, the U.S. economy is nearly six times larger today than it was in 1950. This is a good thing. But, over the same time period, inflation-adjusted state and local government spending has grown more than twelvefold. Since the ultimate source of government revenue is the private economy, this trend is not sustainable nor is it without cost.
May 15, 2015

West Virginia has a good track record of tackling hard fiscal truths — from economic shocks and budget gaps to health care liabilities. And that needs to continue. An underfunded pension system can quickly become a major problem during economic downturns. To avoid the fate of other states West Virginia has a chance to become a leader in pension reform and an example of how fiscal discipline is the best preparation against economic uncertainty.
May 06, 2015

Efforts to add a new restructuring option to the mix may cast doubt on Puerto Rico's commitment to more substantive efforts to deal with its debt problem, such as shrinking its public sector and unleashing its private sector with regulatory reform. Retroactive changes to the law may cure creditors of their historically over-eagerness to finance Puerto Rico's public sector, which has not been good for the territory. But such changes also may cause the pendulum to swing too far the other way, as investors shy away from lending in the face of a potentially uncertain and shifting legal framework.
Apr 30, 2015

The Pennsylvania legislature is again debating reforms to avert a potential pension funding crisis. Every taxpayer should be concerned, but the people who bear the most risk are current and future retirees. More than 325,000 retired Pennsylvanians and 370,000 active workers rely on the commonwealth’s two largest pension plans, the Public Schools Employee Retirement System (PSERS) and State Employee Retirement System (SERS). According to our new research, it’s statistically unlikely those plans will be able to keep their promises to these workers over the long term if changes aren’t made.
Apr 15, 2015

Fiscal horror stories from populous states like Illinois, California and New Jersey are becoming all too common these days, but Florida’s finances have yet to make the front pages of the national news. In an era when state governments are growing, and many strain to merely pay for past commitments, Florida has stood out for its fiscal responsibility.

Charts

This week’s charts use data from a National Public Radio compilation of public Department of Defense records of grants issued to state and local law enforcement bodies through its Excess Property Program, also known as DoD 1033. The charts display the total value of all known grants to municipalities in real 2013 dollars along with the total value and number of mine-resistant and combat vehicles distributed from 2006 to April 2014.

Experts

Matthew Mitchell is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he is the director for the Project for the Study of American Capitalism. He is also an adjunct professor of economics at Mason. In his writing and research, he specializes in economic freedom and economic growth, public-choice economics, and the economics of government favoritism toward particular businesses.
Eileen Norcross is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. As director for the Mercatus Center’s State and Local Policy Project, she focuses on questions of public finance and how economic institutions support or hamper economic resiliency and civil society. She specializes in fiscal federalism and institutions, state and local governments and finance, pensions, public administration, and economic development.
The Honorable Maurice McTigue, QSO, is vice president for outreach at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He is director of the Mercatus Center’s Government Accountability Project and a member of its Spending and Budget Initiative and State and Local Policy Project.
William P. Ruger is an assistant professor in the political science department at Texas State University. He has been an affiliated scholar with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University since 2008.
Jason Sorens is an assistant professor in the political science department at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). He has been an affiliated scholar with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University since 2008. …

Podcasts

Eileen Norcross | April 09, 2015
With all the talk about pension reform in Pennsylvania, Eileen Norcross discusses whether existing guidelines are enforced this with Keystone Crossroads.

Recent Events

Please join the Mercatus Center's Capitol Hill Campus and Professor Bruce Yandle for an update on the state of the national economy. Dr. Yandle is the Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Economics at the Mercatus Center and Dean Emeritus of Clemson College of Business and Behavioral Sciences.

Books

Michael S. Greve | May 22, 2015
This essay examines the sources and the scope of federalism’s failures. It provides a trenchant, constitutionally grounded analysis with profound implications for a range of current policy debates. Federalism’s restoration requires not merely rebalancing the federal-state relationship through decentralization. Rather, we must restore the structure of federalism to competitive federalism—which encourages states to compete to enhance freedom and economic growth—in response to the rise of cartel federalism, which squashes competition between the states and makes states dependent on the federal government.

Media Clippings

Eileen Norcross | Feb 02, 2014
Eileen Norcross cited at The New York Times.
Sarah Arnett | Jan 17, 2014
The Mercatus Center cited at Philly.com.
Sarah Arnett | Jan 16, 2014
The Mercatus Center cited at Investor's Business Daily.
| Jan 16, 2014
Mercatus cited at Union Leader.
Adam Thierer | Oct 08, 2013
Adam Thierer cited at Politico.
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