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Can historic districts dampen urban renewal?

January 20, 2016

Struggling cities in the Northeast and Midwest have been trying to revitalize their downtown neighborhoods for years. City officials have used taxpayer money to build stadiums, construct river walks, and lure employers with the hope that such actions will attract affluent, tax -paying residents back to the urban core. Often these strategies fail to deliver […]

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Are state lotteries good sources of revenue?

January 14, 2016

By Olivia Gonzalez and Adam A. Millsap With all the hype about the Powerball jackpot, we decided to look at the benefits and costs of state lotteries from the taxpayer’s perspective. The excitement around yesterday’s drawing is for good reason, with the jackpot reaching $1.5 billion – the largest thus far. But most taxpayers will […]

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We don’t need more federal infrastructure spending

January 6, 2016

Many of the presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle have expressed interest in fixing America’s infrastructure, including Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. All of them claim that America’s roads and bridges are crumbling and that more money, often in the form of tax increases, is needed before they fall into further […]

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How effective are HUD programs? No one knows.

December 16, 2015

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, has been in the news lately due to its policy proposal to ban smoking in public housing. HUD usually flys under the radar as far as federal agencies are concerned so many people are probably hearing about if for the first time and are unsure about […]

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Fixing municipal finances in Pennsylvania

November 24, 2015

Last week I was a panelist at the Keystone Conference on Business and Policy. The panel was titled Fixing Municipal Finances and myself and the other panelists explained the current state of municipal finances in Pennsylvania, how the municipalities got into their present situation, and what they can do to turn things around. I think it […]

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Berkeley, CA and the $15 – oops – $19 living wage

November 13, 2015

Berkeley, CA’s labor commission – in what should be an unsurprising move at this point in Berkeley’s history – has proposed raising the city’s minimum wage to an astounding $19 per hour by 2020! The labor commission’s argument in a nutshell is that Berkeley is an expensive place to live so worker’s need more money. And […]

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Puerto Rico’s labor market woes

October 28, 2015

Puerto Rico – a U.S. territory – has $72 billion dollars in outstanding debt, which is dangerously high in a country with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of only $103.1 billion. The Puerto Rican government failed to pay creditors in August and this was viewed as a default by the credit rating agency Moody’s, which […]

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Banking on risky investments is no way to guarantee a public pension

October 26, 2015

Over the past several years I’ve spent a lot of time studying public pension systems. That’s involved diving into the economics and actuarial literature, reading through many individual plan reports, and analyzing the trends in those systems in the context of the principles of financial economics. Why do this? It isn’t just a public finance […]

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Teenage unemployment in cities

October 26, 2015

New research that examines New York’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) finds that participation in the program positively impacts student academic outcomes. As the authors state in the introduction, youth employment has many benefits: “Prior research suggests that adolescent employment improves net worth and financial well-being as an adult. An emerging body of research indicates […]

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Pennsylvania taxpayer’s new “boutique” apartments

October 8, 2015

Eric Blumenfeld Realty Management (EBRM) recently secured $44 million in financing to restore the Divine Lorraine Hotel in Philadelphia. According to the article: “EBRM will renovate the 9-story property into a boutique residential community comprised of 109-rental units to sit above 20,000 s/f of restaurant and retail space.” But Blumenfeld did not receive ordinary financing. Instead […]

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