Sustainable Budgeting in the States: Evidence on State Budget Institutions and Practices

Sustainable Budgeting in the States: Evidence on State Budget Institutions and Practices. Urban Institute. Megan Randall, Kim S. Rueben. November 27, 2017

States adopt a variety of budget practices to help define spending priorities and influence fiscal outcomes. However, not all budget practices achieve the desired fiscal objectives, and some practices may compromise states’ long-term fiscal sustainability. This report discusses evidence from the literature on budgeting timelines, baselines and forecasting; budget requirements and restrictions; and budget transparency measures to identify best practices and curate an evidence-based toolkit for policymakers to produce healthy state budgets. It discusses how political context and institutions affect budgets and the role of budget influencers across various government branches and outside interest groups. A review of the literature suggests that states should focus on sustainable systems, design, evidence and implementation to improve budget practices and fiscal outcomes. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 102 pages, 1.16 MB].

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Child and Dependent Care Tax Benefits: How They Work and Who Receives Them

Child and Dependent Care Tax Benefits: How They Work and Who Receives Them. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Margot L. Crandall-Hollick. October 26, 2017

Two tax provisions subsidize the child and dependent care expenses of working parents: the child and dependent care tax credit (CDCTC) and the exclusion for employer-sponsored child and dependent care.
The child and dependent care tax credit is a nonrefundable tax credit that reduces a taxpayer’s federal income tax liability based on child and dependent care expenses incurred. The policy objective is to assist taxpayers who work or who are looking for work. A taxpayer must meet a variety of eligibility criteria including incurring qualifying child and dependent care expenses for a qualifying individual and have earned income.

[PDF format, 20 pages, 842.02 KB].

Will Corporate Tax Cuts Cause a Large Increase in Wages?

Will Corporate Tax Cuts Cause a Large Increase in Wages? Peterson Institute for International Economics. Policy Brief, 17-30. William R. Cline. November 2017

Proponents of lowering corporate taxes cite an estimate by the Trump administration’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) that cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent would raise average annual household income by $4,000 to $9,000, corresponding to an increase in wages ranging from 6 to 14 percent, respectively. The council’s conclusion is based on cross-country and cross-state statistical tests and are subject to weaknesses highlighted by Lawrence Summers and Jason Furman, among others. In contrast, Gregory Mankiw has pointed out that a simple aggregate production function approach could generate wage increases that substantially exceed the tax revenue loss. This Policy Brief examines the use of the production function approach and concludes that although Mankiw provides a useful reminder that a corporate tax cut could raise worker productivity and wages through its potential for providing more capital for labor to work with, the likely magnitudes of the gains are far smaller than the range claimed by the CEA. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 6 pages, 230.56 KB].

The National Science Foundation: FY2018 Appropriations and Funding History

The National Science Foundation: FY2018 Appropriations and Funding History. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Laurie A. Harris. November 2, 2017

The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports basic research and education in the non-medical sciences and engineering. NSF is a major source of federal support for U.S. university research, especially in certain fields such as computer science. It is also responsible for significant shares of the federal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education program portfolio and federal STEM student aid and support.

[PDF format, 20 pages, 1.12 MB].

Clearing the Air on the Debt Limit

Clearing the Air on the Debt Limit. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. D. Andrew Austin, Kenneth R. Thomas. November 2, 2017

The statutory debt limit, currently suspended through December 8, 2017, provides Congress a means of controlling federal borrowing. As the date when that suspension will lapse approaches, discussions about the role of the debt limit among the media, researchers, and Members of Congress promise to become more frequent. In recent discussions, misleading or less than fully accurate claims have, at times, surfaced. This report provides clarifications on five common debt limit contentions.

Some of those points in need of clarification relate to the congressional power of the purse, which stems from three closely related constitutional provisions that charge Congress with deciding how the federal government spends, taxes, and borrows.

[PDF format, 15 pages, 576.01 KB].

Kids’ Share 2017: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2016 and Future Projections

Kids’ Share 2017: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2016 and Future Projections. Urban Institute. Julia B. Isaacs. October 31, 2017.

Public spending on children by federal, state, and local governments is an investment in the nation’s future because it supports children’s healthy development, helping them fulfill their potential.
To help interested stakeholders assess the government’s investment in children, this 11th edition of the annual Kids’ Share report provides an updated analysis of federal expenditures on children from 1960 through 2016. It also projects federal expenditures on children through 2027 to give a sense of how budget priorities may unfold absent changes to current law. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 60 pages, 7.56 MB].

Ethics Pledges and Other Executive Branch Appointee Restrictions since 1993: Historical Perspective, Current Practices, and Options for Change

Ethics Pledges and Other Executive Branch Appointee Restrictions since 1993: Historical Perspective, Current Practices, and Options for Change. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Jacob R. Straus. September 29, 2017

On January 28, 2017, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13770 on ethics and lobbying. E.O. 13770 created an ethics pledge for executive branch appointees, provided for the administration and enforcement of the pledge, and revoked President Barack Obama’s executive order ethics pledge that covered his Administration (E.O. 13490). President Trump’s executive order shares some features with President Obama’s executive order and a previous executive order issued by President Bill Clinton.

Executive order ethics pledges are one of several tools, along with laws and administrative guidance, available to influence the interactions and relationships between the public and the executive branch. The ability of private citizens to contact government officials is protected by the Constitution. As such, the restrictions placed by executive order ethics pledges, laws, and administrative guidance are designed to provide transparency and address enforcement of existing “revolving door” (when federal employees leave government for employment in the private sector) and lobbying laws.

[PDF format, 29 pages, 822.52 KB].