Author Archive

Does Income Inequality Really Hurt State Tax Revenues?

This week the rating agency Standard and Poor’s got a lot of attention for a study that concluded that rising income inequality is damaging state tax revenues. Well, state tax revenue growth has slowed in recent decades and income inequality has grown. But the story is far more complicated than S&P suggests. Worse, I fear […]

Washington DC’s Tax Revision Commission Plan

Last year, I had the privilege of serving on the District of Columbia’s Tax Revision Commission, chaired by former mayor Tony Williams. On Monday, the Tax Policy Center will host a panel to discuss our broad-based effort to rework DC’s often unwieldy revenue system. To prepare, I looked more closely at how the personal income […]

Detroit’s bankruptcy: What does it mean for other cities?

Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection yesterday, giving it the dubious distinction of being the largest municipal bankruptcy ever. By doing so, the city has put its future—and that of its citizens, employees, retirees, bondholders, and other creditors– in the hands of a federal judge. How did the Motor City get to this sad […]

Andrew Cuomo’s Lesson in What Not to do With Rising Tax Revenues

After years of grim revenue news, state tax collections are surging. As they do, governors and state legislators are making decisions about how to manage the unfamiliar windfall. Some governors, including California’s Jerry Brown, are husbanding resources, trying to hold down spending and paying down one-time debts. Others, such as New York’s Andrew Cuomo, are […]

Better Ways Federal Financial Aid Can Help College Students

Earlier this week, my Tax Policy Center colleague Elaine Maag blogged about proposals by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) to improve federal assistance for low-income college students, including better targeting of higher education tax credits. But there may be even more effective ways to help these students. One idea: Cut back on […]

Do Higher Education Tax Credits Make Sense?

Higher education is a good investment, even though some new grads currently struggling to get jobs don’t think so. But does it make sense for the federal government to subsidize college with both tax incentives and direct grants? And if it doesn’t, which program should it dump? There is a strong case that the government […]

What Tax Reform Means for State and Local Tax and Fiscal Policy

In testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance this morning, I discussed what federal tax reform would mean for state and local governments and how Congress could help by coordinating tax law across states. Here are my opening remarks. You can find my full testimony here. With increasing concerns about the federal deficit, fairness, and the […]

A Tale of Two States

With apologies to Charles Dickens, I’d like to tell a Tale of Two States. Earlier this month, on December 5, California Governor Jerry Brown and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo both announced that, even though state revenues in general were rebounding, they were both facing budget shortfalls.  This isn’t totally surprising since earlier in the […]

The Keystone State or the Keystone Kops?

As a brief respite from our discussions of all the various flat tax plans being proposed (or recycled) – below is a post I did for Metrotrends yesterday on budget antics at the subnational level. Last month I blogged about how the federal and state governments could learn from cities, which seemed to be making […]

California’s Initiative Turns 100

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of California’s initiative process . In 1911, California famously adopted the direct initiative process and ballot box decision-making has become almost as synonymous with the Golden State as beaches, hi-tech innovation, and Hollywood.  While 75% of voters in California still see direct initiatives as a good thing, a similar […]