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Dr. Agrawal Featured Expert in WalletHub Post

March 16 Thursday 01:18 PM

Dr. David Agrawal, an assistant professor for both the Martin School and the Department of Economics, has been featured in a piece published by WalletHub examining state and local taxes. The post ranks states, but also compares the varying types of taxes across states. The authors then ask a number of experts, including Dr. Agrawal, about how people respond to taxes. It's an interesting read as we approach the deadline to file taxes this year!


Dr. Agrawal Studies Taxation in an Internet Age

February 24 Friday 01:07 PM

Many Americans these days do their shopping online-- for gifts, services, and even their groceries. However, unless the vendor has a physical location in the shopper's state, the purchaser likely isn't paying state and local sales taxes. This is because the Supreme Court has ruled that only firms with a physical presence in a state must remit state and local sales taxes. Today, as more and more consumers ​make purchases​ on​ the internet​, states are potentially missing out on an important source of revenue.

This fall, Dr. Agrawal and his co-author, Dr. Fox, discuss the challenges and possible policy solutions -- including potential federal legislation requiring all large online vendors to remit taxes such as the Marketplace Fairness Act -- in their work "Taxes in an e-commerce generation," published in International Tax and Public Finance. Their article provides a global perspective on an extremely salient topic in tax policy!


Dr. Denison Examines Debt Concentration in Latest Publication

February 24 Friday 11:15 AM

Dr. Denison published a new study with co-author Dr. Robert Greer from UGA in Public Budgeting & Finance. You can read the abstract below and check out the full paper online here.

Determinants of Debt Concentration at the State Level

"We examine the general factors that affect the distribution of debt among state and local governments. We measure the distribution as the percentage of total state and aggregate local debt that is issued or held by the state level of government. Using a fiscal federalism framework, we discuss the fiscal, legal, and political factors that play an important role in determining the level of government that issues debt. Findings suggest that important factors of debt concentration at the state level include state political ideology and economic factors of income per capita and unemployment rates."


How Do Charter Schools Affect Students in the Long-Term?

February 24 Friday 12:32 PM

Charter schools have been a hot topic, both at the federal and state level. Our very own Dr. Zimmer, who is a leading educational policy expert with over 150 media mentions in the past year, examines the impact of Florida charter high schools on future success in a recent publication in the Journal of Policy Analysis & Management. Dr. Zimmer and his co-authors found that "students attending charter high schools are more likely to persist in college, and that in their mid-20s they experience higher earnings."

In their analysis, the researchers compared two groups of students-- those that entered a charter high school after completing 8th grade at a charter middle school, and those that went to a conventional high school after completing 8th grade at a charter middle school. Through statistical analysis, they found that those attending the charter high school were 8.8% more likely to attend a two- or four-year postsecondary institution than their peers. They also, on average, made around $2,300 more than their peers overall and around $3,000 more if they attended college within six years of high school graduation. 

Why is this the case? And, can we generalize the results to other school systems and states? Like other schools, charter school programs all differ. The authors have a couple of ideas about why the students they studied were more successful-- perhaps they received better life skill coaching, for example. Much more research is needed to understand the mechanisms.


Learning by Doing: Reflections on Strategic Planning Course

February 1 Wednesday 02:31 PM

Sarah Smith is a second-year MPA student who will be graduating in May. She describes one of her classroom experiences below.

The Martin School Master of Public Administration curriculum is designed to blend in-classroom and experiential learning. For instance, students are required and receive academic credit for an internship in a chosen field or organization. As an MPA student, I've attended speakers, competitions, and field trips, all through the Martin School.

However, some of our courses teach skills and offer students the chance to apply those concepts directly to real-world projects, too. One such course, which is one of my personal favorites, is PA 602: Strategic Planning. While many of the program's core classes have projects that mimic professional activities, Strategic Planning is unique-- small groups of students partner directly with non-profit or government organizations to develop strategic plans, using skills and methodologies as we learn them.

Having worked as a project manager and implementation consultant prior to coming to the Martin School, I loved having this opportunity. Reflecting on our group projects, I was able to connect activities I did in my previous work to what I was learning (and doing again) in class. My team created a potential strategic plan for the Lexington Farmers Market using the Balanced Scorecard methodology. Other teams worked with a nonprofit providing after school activities to middle schoolers and a local environmental protection group. Each team tailored their approach to the needs of their client. For instance, my group reimagined one of the Balanced Scorecard "perspectives," or lens through which the organization's objectives and mission are analyzed, to better suit the structure of the organization.

As someone who learns through doing, my understanding and command of the skills needed in strategic planning were deepened through our group work. I also discovered that I really enjoy strategic planning! I'm looking forward to bringing those skills to my next job after I graduate this spring.


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