Topic: Public Finance
News
June 12, 2017

Price obviously matters—it always does—and Denmark’s experience should serve as a warning against reading too much into the progress of green industries (like solar power or, in this case, electric vehicles) that are being propped up by market distorting subsidies or tax breaks.

For the electric vehicle industry specifically, this isn’t a major setback, because many of the automakers in this space are having success in bringing costs down to levels that are attractive for consumers, even without generous tax breaks. It is a heat check of sorts, though, and it suggests that the promised takeover of EVs is further away than its most ardent advocates (and environmentalists) might have you believe.

News
June 11, 2017

California is widely celebrated as the fount of technical, cultural and political innovation. Now we seem primed to outdo even ourselves, creating a new kind of socialism that, in the end, more resembles feudalism than social democracy.

The new consensus is being pushed by, among others, hedge-fund-billionaire-turned-green-patriarch Tom Steyer. The financier now insists that, to reverse our worsening inequality, we must double down on environmental and land-use regulation, and make up for it by boosting subsidies for the struggling poor and middle class. This new progressive synthesis promises not upward mobility and independence, but rather the prospect of turning most Californians into either tax slaves or dependent serfs.

News
June 9, 2017

California voters overwhelmingly oppose a recent tax and fee package pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic-dominated Legislature to pay for road repairs, a new poll finds.

The gas tax law, which ushers in a 10-year program to raise more than $52 billion for transportation projects, is so unpopular it could backfire on Democrats in upcoming elections. IGS Poll: Gas tax More than half of California’s registered voters oppose the new state law raising taxes on gas and vehicle registration fees. Chart of poll results Source: Berkeley IGS Poll Fifty eight percent of voters oppose Senate Bill 1, including 39 percent who say they strongly reject the legislation, according to the survey from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. Only 35 percent favor the law, which raises taxes on gasoline and diesel and hikes vehicle registration fees to fix roads and highways.

News
June 9, 2017

Chief executives of America’s largest companies say failure to pass sweeping tax-policy changes soon could damage hiring and investment.

But they remain optimistic for now about the prospects for tax reform and deregulation under the Trump administration, said members of the Business Roundtable, who released an updated outlook Tuesday.

News
June 9, 2017

While the “disinvestment” narrative is simple and appealing, it collapses under scrutiny. If state funding to public colleges falls by $100 per student, it seems logical to conclude that tuition must go up by $100 to compensate. But that isn’t what happens. In a new study, I compare tuition and direct state funding changes at four-year public colleges between 2004 and 2015. This covers both a boom in state funding (2004-08) and a bust (2008-12). Sure enough, the relationship is quite weak. Less than 5% of changes in state funding pass through to higher tuition. In other words, if funding falls by $100 per student, tuition will rise by less than $5.

Colleges do tend to cut spending when state funding goes down. But the expenditures they cut are usually in areas unrelated to instruction, such as research and administration. When funding goes up, colleges largely plow that money into higher spending rather than return it to students through lower tuition.

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