Working Papers

Receiving the 2021 Michael R. Curro Award for Best Graduate Research Paper, "“Do State Budget Maneuvers Reduce Future Budget Resiliency? Evidence Following the Great Recession” at the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management Annual Conference, October 1, 2021.

Stavick, J. “Organizational Memory and Snap Back Performance in Public Agencies.” Available at SSRN.

In recent years, public administration scholars investigated the relationship between employee turnover and public sector performance in settings where tasks are routine and frequently executed. This research builds on that foundation by investigating the contribution of organizational memory to the execution of infrequent and extraordinary tasks, theoretically distinguishing it from routine and ordinary tasks. Using a panel of administrative state employee payroll data collected from 45 states, this research tests the relationship between state health department employee turnover, retention, and performance in response to an emergency: the COVID vaccination campaign of 2021. Results show that recent health department turnover rates are a more substantive predictor than retention of employees with previous SARS H1N1 experience or the employment of managers from that era. Estimates indicate a one percentage point increase in employee turnover rates reduce the two-dose adult vaccine take-up rate by about 0.5 percentage points, a result largely driven by high vaccination rates among senior citizens. The results are robust to alternative specifications and a placebo investigation using transportation department employee turnover rates. I estimate from this data that a 1 percent reduction in turnover would cost about $1.6 billion in additional compensation to state health departments and would produce reduced mortality benefits of $2.1 billion.

Stavick, J. “Do State Budget Maneuvers Reduce Future Budget Resiliency? Evidence Following the Great Recession.” Available at SSRN.

Status: Currently "revise and resubmit" at Public Budgeting & Finance.

Conventional wisdom suggests budget maneuvers threaten long-term structural balance because they transfer resources from the future to the present by non-transparent means. However, the incidence of maneuver use remains poorly understood due to their difficulty to observe. The Volcker Alliance’s definitions of budget maneuvers are used to create an original tally of their use by states during the Great Recession. Drawing from the regional economic resilience literature, post-recession state budgets are binned into categories of fiscal resilience. Multinomial logit regression is implemented to estimate whether budget maneuvers used in the Great Recession increased the probability of experiencing negative post-recession budget outcomes. The findings do not show a significant relationship between post-Great Recession budget outcomes and maneuver use. While this research does not support budget maneuvers as a unique threat to long-term budget resilience, it does find that intensive use of certain maneuvers can create mounting budget risks in future years.

Mikesell, J., Stavick, J., Ross, J. “Use Tax Administration and Revenue Production in the States.” Available at SSRN.

Use taxes are utilized by states to discourage taxpayers from engaging in sales tax avoidance via shopping in lower tax states. Enforcement of this tax has long been difficult, as demonstrated in the recent case of South Dakota v. Wayfair (2018). States have instead relied on different administration and tax structures to generate revenues. In this paper, we contribute to the limited existing use tax literature by studying a panel of use tax revenues from 25 states, uniquely collected from state tax officials for this project, as well as use tax collection methods states implement for individual and business taxpayers. A major lesson that we uncover is that states are best at enforcing the use tax where they can rely on complementary administrative tax collection systems, which they mostly have for business-to-business transactions. However, they will likely struggle to realize improved use tax compliance for household consumption even in the wake of the Wayfair ruling.