Research in Progress

Presenting "Use Tax Administration and Revenue Production in the States" at National Tax Association 112th Annual Conference on Taxation, November 21, 2019

Conley, S., Stavick, J., Rutherford, A. “The Impact of Street-Level Turnover on Environmental Agency Enforcement.”

Work on the impact of organizational turnover on performance outcomes is particularly understudied and often left as an assumption. We take on this gap by exploring how turnover impacts environmental agency performance. Understanding this form of this relationship can help expand theories on organizational structures or behavior. Specifically, it pushes the idea that internal structures impact external processes. We are also expanding the literature on street-level bureaucrats by developing more a concrete understanding of how lower levels of turnover impact discretion and implementation. This is particularly exciting in the context of U.S. environmental policy where most environmental policy in the United States is done by street-level bureaucrats at the state level. The impact of environmental agency turnover on environmental outcomes is also a novel contribution. Because the dataset used to calculate state turnover rates is novel, we are better able to address the question of environmental turnover in policy implementation than others.

Spreen, T.L., Stavick, J. "Cost of Living Adjustments and Public Workforce Turnover"

U.S. public sector wage growth has lagged that of the private sector since the Great Recession. Anecdotal reports suggest that U.S. state and local governments have struggled to attract and retain qualified workers as a result (Pew Charitable Trusts, 2022). However, there is presently scarce empirical evidence on how cost of living adjustments (COLAs) or other period across-the-board wage increases affect employee turnover in the public or private sectors. We bridge this gap by evaluating the impact of COLAs and other supplemental wage increased allocated to state government workers between 2010 and 2020. We accomplish this using budgeted COLA data compiled by National Association for State Budget Officers paired with state government personnel records assembled from 45 states. The granular nature of our data enable us to examine how COLAs impact employee turnover within specific agencies and functional areas of each state government. This results of this research should offer valuable insight to policy makers by demonstrating the impact of reducing or foregoing annual COLAs on size and quality of public sector workforces.

Ross, J., Stavick. J., Carlin, P. “Did State Imposed Tax and Expenditure Limits Reduce the Fiscal Size of Local Governments? Revisiting the Evidence.”

This paper revisits the research question of whether or not state-on-local tax expenditure limits (TELs) reduced the fiscal size of local governments. The often cited research on the subject appeared in the 1990s and early 2000s with the consensus conclusion that these policies did have that consequence, however this literature had many limitations in research design common to the work of that time. We update the data, empirical strategy, and inferential techniques for American city and county governments. First, we clarify that the parameter of interest is an intent-to-treat estimate from a panel regression using the Mullins and Wallin (2004) TEL taxonomy. Second, the universe of local governments of study is known, so we consider randomized treatment standard errors in addition to other common inferential statistics. Finally, we use a cross-state border differencing strategy as an identification strategy. While a simple panel with two-way fixed effects reproduce the large estimates of the previous literature, our preferred estimates from the border discontinuity design indicates these policies are substantially smaller than those provided by the previous literature.