State and Local Policy Project

State and Local Policy Project

Many states face crushing budget deficits, rising unemployment, and other economic and social ills. The State and Local Policy Project conducts research into the institutional drivers of state and local fiscal challenges to suggest potential solutions.  The project focuses on the relationship between the states and the federal government, interest group dynamics, and the incentives behind budget and spending issues to put forward ideas for sustainable budget reform. 

Research

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.
Pavel A. Yakovlev | Jul 10, 2014
This study investigates the relationship between various measures of economic performance and taxation in a longitudinal panel of American states.
Christopher Coyne, Lotta Moberg | May 16, 2014
The governments of American states often attempt to incentivize businesses to locate within their borders by offering targeted benefits to particular industries and companies. These benefits come in many forms, including business tax credits for investments, property tax abatements, and reductions in the sales tax. Despite good intentions, policymakers often overlook the unseen and unintended negative consequences of targeted-benefit policies. This paper analyzes two major downsides of these policies: (1) they lead to a misallocation of resources, and (2) they encourage rent-seeking and thus cronyism. We argue that these costs, which are often longer-term and not readily observable at the time the targeted benefits are granted, may very well outweigh any possible short-term economic benefits.
Jeremy Horpedahl, Harrison Searles | Mar 06, 2014
Removing the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes would make taxes more equitable throughout the nation, as both high-tax and low-tax states are treated equally by the federal government. It may also provide an efficiency boost for states and localities, as they abandon some services that could be better provided by private companies. The removal of this deduction would also allow federal marginal tax rates to be cut across the board, providing a secondary boost to the economy while still remaining revenue-neutral at the federal level.

Testimony & Comments

Speeches & Presentations

Contact

Daniel M. Rothschild

Program Websites

Neighborhood Effects


Neighborhood Effects is a blog about American state and local economic policy and political economy issues, focusing on a variety of issues related to federalism, tax and budget, public sector spending, infrastructure, urban life, and economic policy.


Inside State & Local Policy


Inside State and Local Policy is a podcast hosted by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University focused on economics at the state and local level of government. This podcast is a resource for state policy makers, the media, and others with an interest in state issues and innovative solutions to the issues facing all states. Each brief episode features conversations with policy scholars, elected officials and other practitioners. Our goal is to bridge the gap between policy theory and policy making and provide state policy makers with scholarly analysis on the potential outcomes of legislative and regulatory reforms. This podcast is hosted by the Mercatus Center’s Director of Economic Education, James C. Musser.


Charts

Thomas Stratmann | Sep 17, 2014
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

Videos

Maurice P. McTigue | October 27, 2013
Maurice McTigue discusses Kentucky's economic competitiveness with other states.

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

Matthew Mitchell, Maurice P. McTigue, John Garen | February 10, 2012
Mercatus Center budget scholars will share their academic research and practical knowledge with local thought leaders in a half-day seminar hosted by the Bluegrass Institute in Lexington, Kentucky.

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.
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