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

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.

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.