Welcome!

News Feed Item

Harvard's Institute of Politics, UPenn's Fels Institute of Government and AEF Produce U.S. State Annual Reports

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Nov. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New research produced by Harvard's Institute of Politics (IOP), the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute of Government and the American Education Foundation (AEF) finds state and local governments are carrying over $7 trillion in debt.  The new 'State of the States' report also offers nonpartisan analysis on the FY 2011 finances and budgets of four U.S. states: Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania – and shows an end to federal fiscal stimulus is causing states to close widening budget gaps by cutting funding in education, infrastructure and other key programmatic areas.  All information and full reports are available at: www.thestatesproject.org.

The report aims to stimulate conversation about the fiscal challenges of state governments at a time when U.S. states are struggling with budget deficits, falling tax revenues and strapped social programs.  Based on The Annual Report of the USA, a publication of the Harvard Political Review – a top undergraduate journal on politics and public policy – the state reports offer reliable, clear, straightforward examinations of state budgets, public policy and the overall fiscal health of each state.  Analysis addresses overall economic trends, including unemployment rates, the finances of pension programs and educational budgets – and offers a context for understanding how public policy affects all citizens.  

"Our students were excited to work on the 'State of the States' project, an important effort to shed light on the true financial condition of our states today," said Trey Grayson, Director of Harvard's Institute of Politics.  "In these tough economic times and uncertain future, promoting more openness and information between citizens and their government is a critical goal."

"Total state and local debt is now almost half of what the national debt is – but nobody talks about that," said 'State of the States' senior editor Alex Palmer '12.

"Health care is swallowing up huge chunks of state budgets, leaving less and less for states to spend on programs that help economies grow like education and infrastructure," said Meredith Bagby, Spring 2004 Harvard Institute of Politics Resident Fellow and Executive Director, AEF. 

The report's key findings include:

  • State and local governments are carrying over $7 trillion in debt.  Over half of that debt is not reported in the official financial statements produced by state and local governments.
  • Federal fiscal stimulus to states has ended. As a result, states have faced budget gaps totaling $55 billion in FY 2013. States are closing those gaps by cutting spending (largely for K-12 education, higher education, and infrastructure) rather than raising revenues.
  • Twenty percent of Americans are on Medicaid. Medicaid has been the largest category of state spending for the last three years and its growth is outpacing inflation, largely due to the effects of the Great Recession.
  • Medicaid is "crowding out" spending on other state priorities: as a percentage of state expenditures, total K-12 education spending has dropped 2% since FY 2008, while spending on Medicaid has increased 2%. Total spending on infrastructure is down 20% since FY 2009.
  • As measured by independent economists, state pension plans carry roughly $2.5 trillion in liabilities; health care benefits carry over $600 billion. None of these liabilities are reported in state financial statements.
  • States often manipulate their accounting rules to show a balanced budget, when in actuality a deficit exists. States can delay payments into future years (like tax refunds, or pension contributions), raise debt to cover the deficits (moving that debt off books using component units like transit authorities), and borrow from state funds meant for other uses (such as funds meant for infrastructure or environmental protection).
  • The "fiscal cliff" is coming on January 1, 2013, meaning that the federal government will have to find trillions in cuts over the next 10 years.  While grants to states make up only 16% of the federal budget, they make up 40% of the discretionary portion of the budget. State block grants will be a prime target for national budget cuts and states may pass federal reductions down cities -- the most vulnerable level of government, which rely on state block grants for 34% of their revenues.

The States Project has also published rankings of states based on fiscal stability, levels of debt, economic opportunity for citizens, educational attainment, and health and wellness. States which had the best overall fundamentals include: Virginia (#1), Minnesota (#2), New Hampshire (#3), Utah (#4), and Massachusetts (#5). The states that scored the lowest in the rankings were: Mississippi (#50), Nevada (#49), Louisiana (#48), West Virginia (#47), and Alabama (#46).

Harvard undergraduate and graduate students helped the project's small, elite team of economists, accountants, writers, and graphic designers to analyze data.  Following publication, project partners will continue to promote the reports as an educational resource for a variety of constituencies including government officials and policymakers, the media, middle schools, high schools and universities. 

The States Project is a joint venture of Harvard University's Institute of Politics, the University of Pennsylvania's Fels School of Government and the American Education Foundation, a nonpartisan 501(c)3.

For more information, or to read the full reports, visit: www.thestatesproject.org.

Harvard University's Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, was established in 1966 as a memorial to President Kennedy.  The IOP's mission is to unite and engage students, particularly undergraduates, with academics, politicians, activists, and policymakers on a non-partisan basis to inspire them to consider careers in politics and public service.  The Institute strives to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs.  More information is available online at www.iop.harvard.edu/.

The American Education Foundation (AEF) is an educational nonprofit dedicated to inspiring students of all ages to become active citizens in the public forum. The foundation is dedicated to producing fair and accurate political information in a non-partisan manner and to helping students acquire the communications skills necessary to navigate the world of public policy. The AEF publishes the Annual Report of the USA. More information is available online at www.americafound.org.

About the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania
The Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania is committed to advancing the quality of public leadership.  It accomplishes its mission by offering focused, practical educational programs that prepare students for public sector work; providing research and consulting services that improve the performance of organizations that serve the public; and bridging the worlds of practice and possibility through conferences, lectures, and discussions about public issues and public problem-solving.  For more information, please visit www.fels.upenn.edu.

SOURCE Harvard's Institute of Politics

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Some people worry that OpenStack is more flash then substance; however, for many customers this could not be farther from the truth. No other technology equalizes the playing field between vendors while giving your internal teams better access than ever to infrastructure when they need it. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will talk through some real-world OpenStack deployments and look into the ways this can benefit customers of all sizes....
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infrastructure through automation. Ayehu solutions have been deployed by major enterprises worldwide, and currently, support thousands of IT processes across the globe. The company has offices in New York, California, and Isr...
Zerto exhibited at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which took place at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, in June 2016. Zerto is committed to keeping enterprise and cloud IT running 24/7 by providing innovative, simple, reliable and scalable business continuity software solutions. Through the Zerto Cloud Continuity Platform™, organizations can seamlessly move and protect virtualized workloads between public, private and hybrid clouds. The company’s flagship product, Zerto Virtual...
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Tintri VM-aware storage is the simplest for virtualized applications and cloud. Organizations including GE, Toyota, United Healthcare, NASA and 6 of the Fortune 15 have said "No to LUNs." With Tintri they manage only virtual machines, in a fraction of the footprint and at far lower cost than conventional storage. Tintri offers the choice of all-flash or hybrid-flash platform, converged or stand-alone structure and any hypervisor. Rather than obsess with storage, leaders focus on the business app...
Addteq is one of the top 10 Platinum Atlassian Experts who specialize in DevOps, custom and continuous integration, automation, plugin development, and consulting for midsize and global firms. Addteq firmly believes that automation is essential for successful software releases. Addteq centers its products and services around this fundamentally unique approach to delivering complete software release management solutions. With a combination of Addteq's services and our extensive list of partners,...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and sh...
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it m...
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, looked at differ...