Siting, Spillovers, and Segregation: A Re-examination of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program

Siting, Spillovers, and Segregation: A Re-examination of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program
In Edward Glaeser and John Quigley, Eds. Housinmg Markets and the Economy: Risk, Regulation, Policy; Essays in Honor of Karl Case. Cambridge, Mass: Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, pp. 233-267.

Ingrid Ellen, Katherine O'Regan, Ioan Voicu

The timing of this volume could not be more opportune. It is based on a 2007 conference to honor the work of Karl "Chip" Case, who is renowned for his scientific contributions to the economics of housing and public policy. The chapters analyze risk in the housing market, the regulation of housing markets by government, and other issues in U.S. housing policy. Chapters investigate derivative markets; the role that home equity insurance can play in reducing risk; the role that the regulation of government-sponsored enterprises has played in extending credit to home purchasers in low-income neighborhoods; and the growth in the market for subprime mortgages. The impact of local zoning regulations on housing prices and new construction is also considered. This is a must read during a time of restructuring our nation’s system of housing finance.

The Neighborhood Effects of Concentrated Foreclosures

The Neighborhood Effects of Concentrated Foreclosures
Journal of Housing Economics, 17(4): 306-319

Ellen, I.G., Schuetz, J. & Been, V.

As the national mortgage crisis has worsened, an increasing number of communities are facing declining housing prices and high rates of foreclosure. Central to the call for government intervention in this crisis is the claim that foreclosures not only hurt those who are losing their homes to foreclosure, but also harm neighbors by reducing the value of nearby properties and in turn, reducing local governments’ tax bases. The extent to which foreclosures do in fact drive down neighboring property values has become a crucial question for policy-makers. In this paper, we use a unique dataset on property sales and foreclosure filings in New York City from 2000 to 2005 to identify the effects of foreclosure starts on housing prices in the surrounding neighborhood. Regression results suggest that above some threshold, proximity to properties in foreclosure is associated with lower sales prices. The magnitude of the price discount increases with the number of properties in foreclosure, but not in a linear relationship.

Making the Most of Our Parks

Making the Most of Our Parks
Citizens Budget Commission, June(Separate Summary document released September 2007).

Brecher, C. & Wise, O.

Parks play important roles in city life. They are a source of respite from the bustle of the urban environment, a place for active recreation and exercise for adults, and a safe place for children to play outdoors. In addition, parks preserve sensitive environmental areas, and, by making neighborhoods more attractive, enhance property values and the tax base of the city.

Measuring Equity and Adequacy in School Finance

Measuring Equity and Adequacy in School Finance
Handbook of Research in Education Finance and Policy. Edited by Ladd, Helen F. and Ted Fiske. Laurence Erlbaum Associates, New York,

Downes, T. & Stiefel, L.

The Handbook traces the evolution of the field from its initial focus on school inputs (per pupil expenditures) and the revenue sources (property taxes, state aid programs, etc) used to finance these inputs to a focus on educational outcomes (student achievement) and the larger policies used to achieve them. It shows how the current decision-making context in school finance inevitably interacts with those of governance, accountability, equity, privatization, and other areas of education policy. Because a full understanding of the important contemporary issues requires inputs from a variety of perspectives, the Handbook draws on contributors from a variety of disciplines.

Two Wrongs Do Not Make a Right

Two Wrongs Do Not Make a Right
National Tax Journal, Sep 2006, Vol. 59 Issue 3, p491-508, 18p.

Furman, J.

This paper analyzes proposals to remedy tax-induced distortions in health care by using new tax incentives and retaining all of the existing distortionary tax incentives. In the process of remedying some distortions, this approach magnifies others--most notably increasing the total tax preference for health care. The paper considers two examples--the Bush administration's FY 2007 budget proposal and a plan by Cogan, Hubbard and Kessler (2005)--and shows that both could result in higher health spending and reduced welfare. Finally, the paper discusses the circumstances in which tax incentives could be warranted to remedy market failures in health insurance.

Public Authorities in New York State.

Public Authorities in New York State.
Citizens Budget Commission, April

Brecher, C. & Brill, J.

Public authorities play a major role in delivering public services. They supplement direct government agencies in three ways:

• Provide a business-like organizational structure for public services that are financed primarily by user fees and whose capital investments are self-financed through bonds supported by user fees.
• Provide a stewardship for major capital assets and make long-run investment decisions with some isolation from pressures of the electoral cycle.
• Provide a mechanism for taking advantage of federal tax benefits for economic development and other purposes that otherwise would be treated as private activities.

Authorities are intended to strike a balance between political accountability and political independence. Unlike heads of direct government agencies, governing boards of authorities are expected to be more independent of those who appoint them, to make difficult and unpopular decisions outside the arena of elected politics, and to be accountable to the public indirectly through reporting, transparency in decision-making and long-run performance. New York State makes extensive use of public authorities.



New York’s Endangered Future: Debt Beyond Our Means

New York’s Endangered Future: Debt Beyond Our Means
Citizens Budget Commission, September

Brecher, C. & Lynam, E.

New York State has too much debt. Its obligations will require current and future taxpayers to bear a burden that creates a competitive disadvantage with the other states. Not only is the absolute amount of New York's debt high, but the burden is excessive even after the State's relatively large tax base and other relevant factors are taken into account.

The core issue is that New York has no effective legal limits on the amount of debt it can assume. Constitutional provisions intended to limit debt are outdated and are circumvented regularly. Statutory limits - passed in 2000 - are also being circumvented. Simply put, it has become too easy for State leaders to borrow. In addition, they have misused debt, which should be restricted to paying for long-term capital projects, by financing annual operating expenses.

Short-run and long-run measures are needed. In the near term, voters should reject bond referendums such as the Transportation Bond Act of 2005 until debt is brought under control. That act would authorize only $2.9 billion of an additional $13 billion in planned State borrowing, but it is the only opportunity that voters have to express their opposition to excessive borrowing. In the long-run the State must strike a balance between adequate infrastructure investment and a competitive debt burden. The State needs a new constitutional limit that does not require voter approval for every debt issuance, but does impose a binding limit that is linked to ability to pay.


Choices at a Critical Junction: New York's Mobility and Highway Infrastructure Needs for 2005-2010

Choices at a Critical Junction: New York's Mobility and Highway Infrastructure Needs for 2005-2010
Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, March

Schaller, B.

The report is an analysis of the $17.4 billion capital budget currently proposed for the New York State Department of Transportation for the next five years, and in particular the $5.9 billion proposed for the downstate area. In its review of bridge and roadway trends, the study finds that the improvements in roadways and bridges achieved during the 1990's have begun to erode over the last few years, and the capital budget, as it is currently proposed, would fail to reverse the erosion. The report was written by Bruce Schaller, a Visiting Scholar at NYU Wagner's Rudin Center, who has experience in highway, transit and taxi issues in New York and nationally. Schaller has authored reports on East River bridge tolls, suburban transit access to Lower Manhattan, commuting and the growth of non-work travel in New York City, MTA fare policy and bus rapid transit and numerous other topics.


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