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  • Author: Andrea Venezia, Su Jin Gatlin Jez
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: California’s community colleges play a wide range of crucial roles in providing educational opportunities for state residents, including providing transfer for students to four-year universities. Transfer students represent about half of each entering class in the California State University System (CSU) and almost one-third in the University of California. In 2010, California enacted legislation to streamline transfer from community college to the state’s four-year universities by creating a new transfer degree. It was implemented in 2012. This study examined how students experience policies and practices related to transfer from community college to California State University in the context of the new degree. Key findings reveal that, although there are improvements, capacity within the CSU and other factors have kept transfer complex and confusing for most transfer students. Major implications are that the state and systems need to continue to simplify the transfer process and strengthen supports for students.
  • Topic: Education, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Glenn Wright, Tasha Elizarde
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: Since the early 1980s, Alaska has relied on oil taxes for almost all of its state government revenue. Like many resource-based economies, including many of the Western states, the result is a boom and bust economy. With production declining and the price of Alaska’s North Slope crude around $75 per barrel, the state is in a bust cycle, with a large state government deficit. Although Alaska is experiencing a somewhat improved revenue outlook compared to 2017, the state’s executive and legislative branches continue to wrestle with unpopular political choices; do we implement a state income tax, tap the state’s Permanent Fund sovereign wealth fund (and thereby reduce or eliminate Alaska’s annual Permanent Fund Dividend payment to Alaskan residents), or some combination of those two approaches? In Spring 2018, the Alaska State Legislature—supported by Independent Governor Bill Walker—chose the first of these options, tapping Alaska’s Permanent Fund to fund state government operations for the first time. The result is a dramatically improved fiscal position for 2019, and although the state remains in deficit, chances of a balanced budget are much improved. Use of the Permanent Fund has not been popular, however; a number of incumbents who supported the use Permanent Fund earnings were defeated in November 2018 by opponents who campaigned on the issue. At the moment, Alaska’s fiscal future remains in doubt.
  • Topic: Governance, Budget, Economic Policy, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Alaska
  • Author: Brian DiSarro, Wesley Hussey
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: California passed a 2018‒2019 budget with record budget surpluses as the state attention shifted to the upcoming 2018 election. This was Jerry Brown’s final budget after sixteen years as governor, a state record. Brown was concerned the state’s volatile income tax revenues might not hold up during a future recession and wanted to store as much of the surplus away in the state’s emergency “rainy-day” fund. Continuing the annual pattern, Democratic legislators wanted to spend some of the surplus on social services, including the increasing problems of homelessness and affordable housing. In addition, legislators began to address the long-ignored problem of sexual harassment in the capitol and was on the front line of the #MeToo movement, leading several legislators to resign. Democrats did well in the November elections, leading to an even bluer California.
  • Topic: Governance, Budget, State Funding
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Colin D. Moore
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: Hawaii adopted a state budget that authorizes $14.3 billion in spending for FY2019. The Aloha State’s economy continues to benefit from record-breaking tourist numbers and robust federal military spending. Although the state’s unemployment rate is among the lowest ever recorded for any state in the nation, the cost of housing has made it increasingly difficult for working families to purchase a home. Tax revenues are strong, but they remain very dependent on the tourism industry. Hawaii also faces huge liabilities for pension and health care payments that are promised to retired state employees.
  • Topic: Governance, Health Care Policy, Budget, State Funding
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Kim Seckler
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: In January 2018, the New Mexico State Legislature convened for its regular session, a thirty day budget session, per its constitutional mandate. Thirty days later the legislative session ended quietly and the state of New Mexico closed the book on the great recession and a decade of financial and political strife. The 2018 legislature passed a $6.38 billion dollar budget, re-supplied dangerously low general fund reserves, and provided small raises to teachers and state employees. Oil and gas revenues are up, unemployment is slowly coming down and legislative-executive political battles have muted. The balanced budget, signed by the governor in early March, brings the state back to where it began almost 10 years before, leading one observer to refer to the time as the “lost decade in New Mexico” (Cole 2018).
  • Topic: Governance, Budget, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, New Mexico
  • Author: Mark Henkels, Brent S. Steel
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: The 2018 midterm elections strengthened the Democrats’ control of Oregon’s state government. Governor Kate Brown won re-election with 50percent of the vote defeating moderate Republican Knute Buehler with 46.6percent of the vote. Democrats also increased their seats in both the House and Senate, leading to super majorities in both houses. Governor Brown and the Democrats in Salem have taken fairly strong progressive policy stances in 2017 and 2018, particularly opposing President Trump’s immigration and marijuana policies, reinforcing the West Coast carbon-reduction pattern, and strongly supporting health care coverage expansion. With a booming economy and unemployment at record lows, the state seems to be able to deliver on its progressive agenda for the 2017-19 biennium, but funding progressive policies in the future will be a challenge for the governor for a variety of reasons. The fate of this progressive vision depends on five elements: (1) the continuation of the favorable economy and the corresponding revenue growth in the approaching budget cycle; (2) the ability to manage the ongoing taxing and spending structures that include major obligations for the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS); (3) the constraints of ongoing dependency on income taxes; (4) the vicissitudes of Trump era politics and policy with declining federal funds; and (5) continued public support for expansive public policies.
  • Topic: Governance, Domestic politics, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Oregon
  • Author: Ruth Ellen Wassem
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: The governance of immigration has a checkered past, and policy makers’ efforts at reform rarely meet expectations. Critiques have echoed over the years and across the political spectrum. The current system of immigration governance is scattered around the federal government, with no clear chain of command. No single government department or agency captures the breadth of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s reach. At the crux of understanding immigration governance is acknowledging that immigration is not a program to be administered; rather, it is a phenomenon to be managed. The abundance of commissions that have studied the issues and the various administrative structures over time offers some wisdom on ingredients for successful governance. Based upon this research, options for effective immigration governance emerge. This paper studies the administration of immigration law and policy with an eye trained on immigration governance for the future. It opens with a historical overview that provides the backdrop for the current state of affairs. It then breaks down the missions and functions of the Immigration and Nationality Act by the lead agencies tasked with these responsibilities. The paper concludes with an analysis of options for improving immigration governance. Each of these options poses unique challenges as well as political obstacles.
  • Topic: Immigration, Governance, Border Control
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Thom
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: Enacted in 2009, California’s Film and Production Tax Credit was a policy reaction to fears that the state had lost motion picture industry jobs to other states and countries. The incentive has since been allocated over $1 billion in taxpayer funding. Advocates hail the tax credit as a success, but is there evidence to support that claim? This study examines motion picture industry employment in California from 1991 through 2016 to determine the impact of the Film and Production Tax Credit and competing incentives offered by other governments. Results show the tax credit had no significant effect on changes in three occupational categories associated with the motion picture industry. Employment was similarly unaffected by competing incentives. Motion picture industry employment in California instead appears to track the national labor market. These findings were robust to several alternative measures and model specifications and advise that California policymakers should eliminate the Film and Production Tax Credit as soon as possible.
  • Topic: Governance, Culture, Budget, Film, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Gian-Claudia Sciara, Amy E. Lee
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: California has established itself as a leader in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. However, the state has not reflected its ambitious policies for greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and climate action in its practices for allocating state transportation funding. This paper reviews the complex systems through which California generates and allocates state revenue for transportation investment. It finds that the state’s framework for funding transportation projects and programs is disconnected from its GHG goals, reflective more of historical political deals than of contemporary climate policy. The paper also suggests preliminary steps for revising this framework to reinforce GHG reduction goals. Such recommendations are particularly salient given the state’s recently completed study of road user charges as an alternative transportation revenue source, as well as the passage of new legislation that restructures the state’s fuel taxes (Senate Bill 1, 2017). Implementation of road charges or any other new or revised transportation revenue source would need to address the disposition of revenues generated. This paper argues that California should use any such opportunity to align the distribution of state transportation dollars with its climate objectives, not fall back on status quo allocation practices.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Governance, Tax Systems, Economic Policy, State Funding
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Jason McDaniel
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: Politics in American cities is largely driven by racial group cleavages, and voting in urban elections is polarized along racial lines. Several cities have implemented a relatively new reform to urban elections called ranked-choice voting (RCV), which eliminates the plurality run-off election by giving voters the option to rank-order several vote preferences. This article examines whether the expanded preference choices associated with ranked-choice voting reduce the level of racially polarized voting in mayoral elections. In the first stage of analysis, precinct-level election results from Oakland, CA, and San Francisco, CA, are used to explore variation in racially polarized voting before and after the implementation of RCV. The second stage of analysis uses a difference-in-differences design to analyze racially polarized voting in RCV cities compared to non-RCV cities. The results indicate that racially polarized voting did not decrease due to the implementation of RCV. Rather, the results show that RCV contributed to higher levels of racially polarized voting between white and Asian voters.
  • Topic: Politics, Governance, Elections, Local
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Hamdullah Mohib
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The Afghanistan of today would surprise most outsiders, even those who closely follow developments in the country. We are often wrongly branded as a failing state with a struggling government whose young people are fleeing en masse for Europe and whose military has lost control of the security situation. While anecdotal evidence can always be found to lend isolated support to such claims, this sweeping characterization offers a distorted picture of reality. Afghans have always valued and cherished their freedom and sovereignty, as evidenced by our years of fighting off foreign and domestic enemies who sought to take both. Now we are reaching for new goals: freedom from dependence on foreign aid, freedom from corruption, freedom from outdated thinking that justifies the oppression of half our population, and freedom from sclerotic bureaucracy that prevents everything from citizens’ access to justice to the smooth functioning of a free market. Afghans overwhelm­ingly want a modern, sustainable, and self-reliant country whose government serves and is accountable to its people. Yes, the past 15 years have seen war, but they have also produced remarkable growth. Afghan society is thriving, which is a testament to the incredible resilience of the Afghan people. You might be familiar with the progress Afghanistan has made in the areas of education and on women’s rights, but there have also been advances in health, infrastructure, in media and telecommunication, and in sports and culture. 2001 to 2016 has been a time of hardship and sacrifice, but also one of innovation and hope. Today, 25 percent of our cabinet ministers are women, and there are scores of female deputy ministers, ambassadors, district governors, members of parliament, and civil servants. Afghan telecommunication companies cover some 90 percent of the population, which has an estimated 20 million cell phone users. Our media sector is thriving and can rightly be called the freest in the region. When President Ashraf Ghani—a former World Bank economist with an expertise in the causes of and solutions for fragile states—and CEO Abdullah Abdullah led the National Unity Government to power less than two years ago, their first priority was to diagnose the nature and size of the myriad problems facing the country. Then President Ghani designed a strategic roadmap of reforms to take Afghanistan forward. When that plan, “Realizing Self Reliance,” was presented in November 2014 to Afghanistan’s partners, funders, and allies, it was enthusiastically endorsed. Today, Afghanistan is 18 months into an era of unprecedented, sweeping changes—an era President Ghani has named “the transformation decade.” The government is taking innovative approaches to solving Afghanistan’s unique problems, as seen in its national priority programs such as the Citizen’s Charter and the Economic Empowerment Plan for Rural Women. There are early, promising results everywhere you look. Infrastructure projects for roads, rail, and electric and fiber optic connectivity are underway. Public finance has been improved through aggressive anti-corruption measures, with internal revenue increasing by a record breaking 22 percent in 2015. The customs and revenue departments, where corrupt practices have traditionally thrived, have undergone sweeping changes that have sent revenues to historic highs. Our new Procurement Commission reviews all contracts and has saved hundreds of millions of dollars for the government. We are rediscovering and reinvesting in the revival of our ancient past with the launch of the new cultural heritage trust fund this year. Last November, Afghanistan was accepted as a member of the World Trade Organization and is now taking strong steps to improve its ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business Indicators, such as a new office in the Ministry of Commerce and Industries to monitor how reforms to reduce obstacles for business are being implemented on the ground, and streamline licensing procedures. The “Jobs for Peace” program that took effect late last year in 12 provinces is already providing food security for nearly 100,000 families by creating 5.5 million labor days. Eventually, it will cover all 34 provinces of Afghanistan, and is already performing above expectations. Highlights of major regional economic development deals that have been closed in the last 18 months include the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, which will bring Afghanistan thousands of jobs and $400 million annually, and the four-nation Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA 1000). This progress is all the more remarkable when you consider that in the short span of just one year—between the end of 2013 and the end of 2014—Afghanistan underwent cataclysmic changes. Following our first peaceful democratic transition of power in history, we installed an untested new form of government led by former rivals who agreed to come together for the benefit of the country, and our brave national security forces assumed full responsibility for national security despite lacking close air support, available medevac, and other essential capabilities. We also managed to make these gains against some steep odds that continue to work against us. Afghanistan’s economy has yet to recover from the crisis caused by the departure of more than 600,000 foreign military personnel and contractors, which sent revenue plunging and unemployment soaring to 40 percent. We have struggled to implement sweeping governance reforms and address urgent citizen needs while being constrained by budget austerity measures. And we continue to fight a war against two enemies simultane­ously, the Taliban and Daesh. But despite the grim headlines that emphasize enemy attacks, our security forces have exceeded expectations, risking and losing their lives in a fight we did not ask for against invading militant groups who threaten not just Afghanistan, but the region and rest of the world. Throughout our journey toward self-reliance, a key element of our continued success will be the strength and endurance of key partnerships, particularly with the United States. Our international partners, including the United States and NATO, have pledged to maintain a significant troop level to train, assist, and advise our security forces at least through 2017. This is invaluable support because it gives the government the breathing room it needs to solve urgent problems that, when remedied, will mean a more stable country. The Afghan people and government are grateful for the continued friendship of the United States and for the fact that both our nations realize that we are united against a shared threat. We honor everyone who has made the ultimate sacrifice in this fight. A captain in the United States Navy who served with the British Royal Marines in Afghanistan once told me that the greatest show of appreciation we can make for that sacrifice is to protect and build on the progress and freedoms for which so many troops fought, died, and were wounded. And so we are. Fiscal independence is a top priority. We need to create more employment opportuni­ties for Afghans so they can be prosperous inside the country, instead of risking their lives trying to find better lives that are not likely to materialize in Europe. Despite gains in women’s participation in all facets of society, it is completely unacceptable that many women still face the threat of violence and are discriminated against with impunity. More girls need to be in school, laying the foundation to pursue their dreams later in life. Peace is urgently needed, but we acknowledge that the process of achieving sustainable security is long, complex, and requires much more than just reconciliation with insurgent groups. Our government institutions need much more reform so that they are efficient, effective, and transparently in service to the Afghan people. Fortunately, we have a formidable engine for our momentum: Afghanistan’s massive, energetic youth population. Three-quarters of Afghans are under the age of 35, and although this generation has known only war and violence their whole lives, they are not cynical and pessimistic. Rather, they are determined to break with the past and change Afghanistan’s story. They are educated, ambitious, and they want peace and prosperity for themselves and their families. In business, education, government, civil society, and culture, they are pushing boundaries of “what is” and leading us forward to “what can be.” Afghanistan has only just started its transformation. The world should not doubt that we are determined to finish it.
  • Topic: Communications, Fragile/Failed State, Governance, Democracy, Modernization
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East
  • Author: Matthias Goldmann
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: According to mainstream functionalist theories of international law and relations, international organizations are vehicles of states, tied to their masters by meticulous legal instructions. As Jan Klabbers recently pointed out in this journal,1 functionalism was based on the idea of establishing peace by channelling international relations into the purportedly technical, a-political realm of international organizations. Research of the last couple of decades has profoundly rebutted the assumption that international organizations are a-political. They have been discovered, among others, to serve as platforms for the formation of epistemic communities, as agorae for political deliberation and contestation or to use their bureaucratic potential and the flexibility of their mandates to establish a degree of independence from their principals. The book by Tana Johnson, professor of political science at Duke University, adds another important perspective that has not been explored so far. She turns our attention to the fact that institutional design might matter for the international organization’s independence from member states. As chief witness for her thesis, she summons the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Originally a brainchild of the US government, it is today a fairly independent institution fallen from grace with its master. Johnson argues that it owes its independence to the influence of international bureaucracies – that is, staff of other international organizations, upon the process that led to its establishment. The thesis puts the spotlight on the fact that a majority of new international organizations that saw the light of the day during the last decades was fostered by pre-existing international organizations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Climate Change, International Law, International Organization, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe