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    Entries in higher education (4)

    Friday
    Mar172017

    The Week in Public Finance: Trump's Budget, the CBO on Health Care and Accounting for Higher Ed

    BY  MARCH 17, 2017

    Trump’s Budget Cuts

    This week, President Trump proposed his budget and, as expected, it focused federal spending cuts on a narrow area that impacts state and local governments the most: discretionary spending. The cuts come by way of diverting more than $54 billion from various federal agencies to defense spending.

    The Takeaway: Paying for all these cuts would mean many programs beneficial to states and localities would be targeted. Under the plan, grant funding -- which accounts for 31 percent of state budgets and 22 percent of state and local spending combined -- takes an enormous hit. Specifically, Trump would eliminate the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which was started by President Nixon as a way to provide direct federal assistance to city projects.

    In transit, the president calls for a half-billion cut from the wildly popular TIGER grant program. He would also cut $175 million in subsidies for commercial flights to rural airports, eliminate funding for many new transit projects and discontinue support for long-distance Amtrak trains.

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    Thursday
    Feb232017

    The Real Price of College

    Most states don't keep track of how much they give to students and their families in tax breaks. That could be hurting their ability to make college affordable for all.
    BY  FEBRUARY 23, 2017

    How much does higher education cost? Surprisingly, that's a question most states can't answer.

    Every state, of course, knows what it plans to spend on higher ed each year, which generally accounts for about 10 percent of a state's budget. But few places track what they give up in tax breaks to help defray the cost of college for taxpayers, according to a new Pew Charitable Trusts report. Since many states default to the federal government's qualifications for these tax breaks, most don't know how vulnerable they are to changes at the federal level.

    Phillip Oliff, one of the report's authors, says states should be regularly looking at both sides of the equation -- tax breaks and direct spending -- when considering how they pay for and promote education policy. "Then they can think about whether the full package of support is being used as effectively as possible to promote their policy goals," he says.

    In a review of the 41 states and the District of Columbia that tax personal income, just nine states and the district assess their higher education-related tax expenditures. These expenditures include special deductions, tax credits and exemptions that allow tax filers to reduce their declared taxable income. California, for instance, spent $10.8 billion on higher education in 2014, the year for which Pew has comprehensive data. But its estimated foregone revenue from higher education tax expenditures nudges the state's total cost up to $11.2 billion.

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    Friday
    Jul082016

    The Week in Public Finance: States in Recession, Higher Ed Winners and Losers, and Virtual Retirement

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  JULY 8, 2016

    Oklahoma's in a Recession

    New economic data shows what Oklahoma officials have been fearing: The state has officially entered a recession. Revised federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data shows that the state’s gross domestic product was negative for most of 2015.

    A recession starts when there are two quarters of economic contraction. Originally, the BEA reported that Oklahoma’s economy contracted in the second quarter, grew by 0.1 percent during the third quarter and contracted again in the last quarter of last year. But the third quarter figure was recently revised downward to -0.6 percent.

    Data for the first quarter of 2016 is expected to be released later this month, but according to State Treasurer Ken Miller, the prospects don’t look good.

    “General indicators fail to point to any marked economic recovery at this point,” he said in his latest state economic report.

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    Friday
    Mar042016

    The Week in Public Finance: School Shutdowns, Trading Munis and Small Business Lending

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  MARCH 4, 2016

    Education Opens Closes Doors

    One of states' top spending items is education. When lawmakers can’t agree on a budget -- or they decide to make severe cuts -- higher education often gets hurt. Sometimes, even K-12 spending takes a hit. In Illinois and Pennsylvania, ongoing stalemates over the current fiscal year’s budget may lead to school closures. In Louisiana, potential major cuts have students protesting.

    Let’s start in Illinois, where three state universities have taken severe hits. Last Friday, Chicago State University sent layoff notices to all 900 of its employees. The school is making plans to end its semester early unless the state makes good on funding promises. That alarming news came after Western Illinois University announced it would cut $20 million from its budget over the next two years, while laying off 100 employees. Southern Illinois University is contemplating $40 million in cuts and has already started closing programs, such as men’s tennis and women’s golf. Most recently, Eastern Illinois University, which saw its credit rating downgraded to junk status last month, laid off nearly 200 employees, although the school president offered assurances that the university was not closing.

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