State and Local

State and Local

Research

George R. Crowley, Scott Beaulier | Nov 18, 2014
We find that union political contributions and collective bargaining are associated with higher incomes for state and local employees and with higher public employment, both across state and local government overall as well as within the education sector. We also find little to no evidence that union activity influences total spending.
Michael Lewyn, Kristoffer "Kip" Jackson | Oct 21, 2014
This paper addresses the following question: how frequently do cities use government regulation of land use to coerce environmentally friendly development? In particular, the paper focuses on minimum density requirements, maximum parking requirements, and laws requiring “green” building (usually buildings that include a variety of energy-conserving features). The article concludes that the first type of regulation is rare, while the latter two are somewhat more frequent.
Carrie Kerekes, Dean Stansel | Oct 13, 2014
This paper provides the first examination of the relationship between eminent domain activity and the growth (and level) of state and local revenue. We restrict our attention to takings that are for private use, such as the one that led to the landmark Kelo decision in 2005.
Jeremy Horpedahl | Sep 16, 2014
In Nebraska the total forgone revenue due to tax privileges amounts to just over $2 billion, compared with roughly $7.2 billion in total revenue collected by the relevant taxes. Eliminating these privileges and simultaneously lowering tax rates could save an average Nebraskan family more than $3,200 dollars if the benefits of tax reform are evenly distributed, with no reduction in government services.
Thomas Stratmann, Andreea Militaru, Rachel Reese | Aug 21, 2014
State and local governments often turn to increases in sales taxes to generate added revenue. Estimates of fresh revenue from the higher tax tend to be overly optimistic, partly because the number of sales tax exemptions tends to rise with the rising tax rate.
Eric A. Scorsone | Jul 24, 2014
This paper provides a comprehensive overview of these state policies and some of the factors that may have influenced the adoption of such policies.

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

Oct 20, 2014

What would your family do with an extra $3,000 this year? Use the money for college education? Take more vacation? Pay off debt? Based on my research, if state governments eliminated all special privileges in their tax systems and lowered tax rates an equivalent amount, the average family could save thousands of dollars annually – all without any reduction in government services.
Oct 17, 2014

Proponents of eminent domain for private development -- i.e., of forcibly taking private property and giving it to another private party -- claim it will generate more revenue for state and local governments. The Supreme Court even based its landmark 2005 case Kelo v. City of New London on this assertion, holding that the alleged economic benefits for communities legally justify these takings as "public use."
Sep 02, 2014

With summer nearly over, and school years starting again across the county, many states are declaring this time of year a holiday season of sorts: a “tax holiday” season. This year, 17 states will create tax-free holidays to exempt many back-to-school items from state sales tax.
Aug 18, 2014

Several states cut a wide variety of taxes this summer. Indiana and Rhode Island, for example, cut the conventional corporate tax. Idaho, meanwhile, took an unconventional route by cutting sales taxes on software purchased through “the cloud.” When revenues are on the rise, some states choose to lower taxes, while others prefer to spend the tax windfall. Both moves could be wrong.
Aug 11, 2014

Lasting pension reform has three pieces: 1) Fund the benefits earned to date. 2) Stop the bleeding and close the current defined benefit plan. 3) Switch workers to a defined contribution-style plan that could include an annuity option and the features of a traditional pension that public sector workers prefer.
Jun 27, 2014

Across the nation, states and cities are struggling to keep up with their obligations to fund state worker pensions. Detroit--desperately trying to reduce its obligations in federal bankruptcy court--is the classic example. But the financial sinkhole swallowing Detroit is spreading throughout the country at an alarming rate.

Charts

State and local governments often increase sales taxes to generate additional revenue; however, projections of added revenue tend to be over-optimistic, in part because sales tax exemptions tend to increase along with the tax rate. These charts illustrate the relationship between average sales taxes and exemptions among the states (five states without sales taxes were removed, as was Hawaii because of its complex tiered system).

Experts

Matthew Mitchell is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he is the program 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 program 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 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

Patrick McLaughlin, Michael Leland | August 12, 2014
In this episode, Patrick McLaughlin joins Mike Leland to discuss his new project, RegData, and how it can help measure the impact of regulations, like occupational licensing and those Uber and Lyft are confronting, in states.

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

William Ruger, Jason Sorens | Mar 28, 2013
Now in its third edition, Freedom in the 50 States presents a completely revised and updated ranking of the American states based on how their policies promote freedom in the fiscal, regulatory, and personal realms.

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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