State and Local Fiscal Policy

State and Local Fiscal Policy

Thinking Outside the Box?

Studies in Fiscal Federalism and State–local Finance series

Edited by Sally Wallace

In this broad and illuminating work, experts on public finance discuss innovations in state and local tax policy that have been implemented or considered over the course of the last three decades. The authors provide original work that analyzes whether state and local governments have ‘gone outside the box’ to deal with the strains of current public finances or have gotten along by adhering to the status quo. This book provides researchers, students and policy makers with evaluations and analyses by well-known scholars in the area of state and local public finance of actual practices and analysis of potential policy changes for the future.

Discussant Comments

Mary Mathewes Kassis

Subjects: economics and finance, public finance, public sector economics, politics and public policy, public policy


Comments on ‘Major state–local policy challenges: outside-the-box solutions needed’ Mary Mathewes Kassis ‘Major state–local policy challenges: outside-the-box solutions needed’ by Ronald C. Fisher reviews six key fiscal policy challenges currently facing state and local governments in the United States. In choosing his key issues, the author focused on long-run issues that have been relatively intractable from a policy perspective and that have a broad impact on society over and above just their fiscal impact on state and local governments. The six issues the author identified were health care costs and provision; assessment, productivity and accountability in education; privatization of higher education and related issues of access; corrections and public safety; resurgence of the property tax revolt; and the expectation that economic development is a primary objective or responsibility of state–local government. In discussing these issues, the author emphasized the need for economists not just to research and analyze the issues but also to become active in designing solutions to these problems. The chapter does a good job defining these six issues and demonstrating that each one meets the author’s criteria of a key or fundamental fiscal policy challenge facing state–local governments. Each of these issues is not only important from a fiscal policy perspective, but is also an important social issue in its own right. Any attempt to define the six most fundamental issues will always create some controversy – there are clearly important issues that will not make this finite list. However, the author clearly tried...

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