Sep 23 - 24, 2014
Cathilea Robinett, Executive Vice President, Governing
Ten years ago David Osborne and Peter Hutchinson published The Price of Government: Getting the Results We Need in An Age of Permanent Fiscal Crisis. Although state and city tax revenues have finally recovered to pre-recession levels, things will never be the same; governments today are forced to face a different world. The Great Recession revealed the growing volatility and fragility of a system of revenue structures that is out of sync with the larger economy. This comes with a growing realization that revenues may come and go, but costs tend to rise inexorably. In the new economic landscape, with an ever-growing demand for services and rising cost pressures, permanent scarcity is indeed the new normal. For our democracy to work and for our communities to prosper, jurisdictions must follow a dual objective: exercise prudent fiscal stewardship and deliver value, that is - produce necessary outcomes efficiently. This presentation will outline the vision and the key strategies governments must pursue to achieve those goals. What are the new tools for the new normal?
As jurisdictions at all levels and across the country are challenged to find ways that would allow them to do more with less – juggling service delivery with capacity building demands – local governments have emerged as sources of ingenuity and bottom-up drivers of innovation. Many cities, especially, are taking a fresh perspective on the new normal and are acting as urban laboratories exploring tools for better governance, efficiency, and more integrated, prosperous communities. This panel of city and county leaders will highlight some of the most innovative approaches local governments have taken to operate in the new normal: Specifically, speakers will discuss ways for jurisdictions to promote collaboration, boost performance, and harness new technologies to achieve more bang for the buck.
Justin Marlowe, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Governing Institute; Endowed Professor of Public Finance and Civic Engagement, Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington
Tishaura O. Jones, Treasurer, City of St. Louis, Missouri
Lois Scott, Chief Financial Officer, City of Chicago, Illinois
The afternoon program will spotlight the major public sector cost drivers and the investments that they will require in the years and decades ahead. For each cost driver, the session will identify ways to improve performance and efficiency through technology and collaboration.
When thinking about the largest expenditures for state and governments, public safety and education are the dominant categories that come to mind. However, it is important to remember that within these areas, personnel costs – the salaries and benefits of police officers, firefighters, and school teachers – are the true cost drivers. Therefore, as governments seek to improve value and control costs, they need to find ways to reduce employee head counts, while ensuring high performance and efficiency. This panel will talk about solutions in management and technology, that can help streamline processes, improve collaboration, and eliminate redundancy in order to reduce the demand for manpower, thus cutting HR and salary expenditures and ultimately curbing pension and healthcare costs.
Mark Funkhouser, Ph.D., Publisher of Governing
Stephen Goldsmith, Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and Director of the Innovations in Government Program, Harvard Kennedy School
The State Budget Crisis Task Force noted that Medicaid has surpassed education as the largest overall expenditure for state governments. Meanwhile, with Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, many states have been taking advantage of federal subsidies to broaden eligibility. An aging population and the eventually declining federal match will leave states with a projected $100 billion in additional Medicaid costs. Therefore, many states also are encouraging experimentation with healthcare management and delivery systems to cut down on excessive medical care and inefficient healthcare administration – which account for two thirds of wasteful spending. This panel will explore ways to improve efficiency and advance more integrated, coordinated service delivery by deploying data sharing platforms (Health Information Exchanges), regional health partnerships, and other health IT innovations.
Chris Kardish, Staff Writer, Governing
Next to Medicaid, K-12 education consumes the second-largest chunk of state budgets. Despite the big expenditure, there is widespread understanding that the quality of education in the U.S. is inadequate. Lamentable in itself, the education gap is putting our nation at a grave competitive disadvantage in the global economy. At the same time, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reports that recession-time austerity measures have cut education budgets in at least 35 states. This has forced local school districts to scale back educational services, even as they have come under increased pressure to adopt more rigorous performance standards, most notably, the Common Core. While broad-scale, meaningful reform has not been achieved, some states have nevertheless made progress with integrated approaches, such as California, having implemented the Common Core while also boosting funding of high poverty schools. Others, such as Kansas, want to require “results based” funding of education. What can and must be done to curb education costs while also improving educational outcomes for our students? This panel will explore ways to boost efficiency in education.
J.B. Wogan, Staff Writer, Governing
The Honorable Dwight Evans, Pennsylvania State Representative, Philadelphia County
The United States has long had the highest incarceration rate in the world. Although crime rates have fallen significantly over the past two decades and the nation’s prison population has leveled off, the price of incarceration, including medical care for inmates, remains a major cost driver for state and local governments. What’s more, research indicates that extended prison sentences for non-serious offenders tend to increase recidivism and ultimately do not promote public safety. Therefore, states and localities are looking at options to reduce prison populations while investing more into programs geared at rehabilitating lower-risk offenders. Similarly, police departments are utilizing CrimeStat data and other tools to advance crime prevention efforts. In this session, we’ll discuss integrated approaches to incarceration reform and public safety: We’ll learn about strategies to boost collaboration, coordination, and efficiency.
Zach Patton, Executive Editor, Governing
The Honorable Jerry Madden, former Texas State Representative
Day two of the Summit will survey “storms on the radar” – looming threats that may pose serious trouble to the financial and physical security of our states and localities. Our panels will discuss how jurisdiction can adapt to the new conditions and threats to reduce future vulnerabilities by improving fiscal and physical resiliency.
2013 was an eventful year in the muni market: The SEC proposed legislation which would have granted it authority to regulate municipal debt issuance; the feds talked about striking the tax exemption for municipal bonds; and the Detroit bankruptcy threatened to reduce general obligation bonds to “unsecured debt.” These issues remain, and so do calls for reform. And uncertainty continues to cloud the municipal bond market. On the one hand, as urbanist, Aaron Renn, noted, shrunken local revenue streams combined with huge pension liabilities don’t provide enough cash flow to support greater debt levels. Meanwhile, fiscal mismanagement and waste continue to compound the erosion of public trust, further limiting taxpayers’ willingness to support investment in social infrastructure. To regain public trust as well as investor confidence, local governments will have to make important strides toward prudent fiscal stewardship. In this session, finance leaders will outline what is being done, and what tools are needed, to rebuild trust in government financial contracting and management.
Liz Farmer, Staff Writer, Governing
Jeff DeWitt, Chief Financial Officer, Government of the District of Columbia
Ivan Samstein, Chief Financial Officer, Cook County, Illinois
Weather-related problems have been driving up costs for state and local governments, weather widespread disasters, like Super Storm Sandy, or more localized events, like rainfall and floods in Colorado, or the snow storm that paralyzed Atlanta this past winter. When disaster strikes, citizens expect swift and sure response from their government – notwithstanding the price tag. But the costs are real - and given the projected increase in extreme weather patterns - they are bound to keep climbing. As emergency management expenditures are becoming a growing part of the ongoing cost of government, jurisdictions are looking beyond emergency management and disaster recovery and investing in preparedness and resiliency efforts. In this session, resiliency experts and local leaders will illuminate what can be done to help communities anticipate and prepare for disasters while minimizing damages and costs. What is the role of technology solutions and collaborative efforts in enabling governments to protect their communties - and save money?
Elizabeth Daigneau, Managing Editor, Governing
Kristin Baja, Climate and Resilience Planner, Baltimore City Department of Planning, Office of Sustainability
Gavin Smith, Associate Research Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning, Executive Director, Department of Homeland Security's Coastal Hazards Center of Excellence, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Just as modern economic and fiscal realities are requiring governments to develop better cost management and funding strategies, growing environmental threats and rising concerns about resource scarcity also are challenging officials to conceptualize new tools for the new normal. The future fiscal stability and, ultimately, the survival of regions and localities depend on their ability to develop resiliency. Asides of disaster preparedness and recovery, this requires long-range and ongoing investments in infrastructure: from “hardening” structures and transportation systems to finding new tools and technologies to improve resource efficiency and conservation of water and energy. Governing’s FutureStructure initiative has been highlighting the challenges and opportunities associated with re-envisioning cities as systems. This panel will address some of the progress localities have made in adapting to the new normal while building resiliency for the future. What kinds of partnerships and resources are available to help fund the cost of resiliency?
Dan Vock, Staff Writer, Governing
The Honorable James Brainard, Mayor, City of Carmel, Indiana
Marina Leight, Vice President, Governing