State and Local

State and Local

Research

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.
Randall G. Holcombe | Feb 26, 2015
In a comprehensive assessment of Florida’s fiscal policy, Dr. Randall Holcombe of Florida State University examines the state’s education and health care spending, pension system, taxes and budget, land use regulation, homeowners insurance, and many other key policies. To read the entire paper, please download the PDF. To view individual sections by issue, see below.

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

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.
Mar 25, 2015

Since Floridians voted to term-limit the state's legislature in 1992, Florida's state government has shrunk. Though the numbers associated with this decrease in government does not prove causation, they do provide some evidence against the hypothesis that term limits result in a shift of power toward legislative staff and/or lobbyists.
Mar 25, 2015

Shifting public employees to defined-contribution retirement plans won’t magically make unfunded liabilities go away. Pension liabilities must be paid, regardless of what plan new employees participate in. But defined-contribution plans, which cannot generate unfunded liabilities for the taxpayer, at least put public pensions on a more sustainable track.
Mar 11, 2015

Based on new research from the Mercatus Center, Biggs argues that all public-employee plans should be making less risky investments and that a plan closed to new hires should take only a little investment risk than an open plan.
Feb 17, 2015

Our study is just a glimpse of the inefficiency and hardship generated by unnecessary occupational licensing laws. Countless low income workers are being forced to jump through arbitrary hoops to obtain employment with very little observable benefit accruing to consumers.
Jan 16, 2015

During recessions, politicians typically blame a poor economy, unemployment, or reductions in federal aid for budget shortfalls. But when the money is flowing in, they often choose to go on a spending spree rather than to heed the lessons of the past and exercise fiscal discipline.

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

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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