Insight Explainer: Autonomous vehicles

by Andrew Holton on May 26, 2017

Any time I watch a movie or read a book set in the early 20th century, I wonder what it must have felt like to watch the rise of the automobile age. I imagine the awe that normal people must have felt to see chemically-powered machines change the landscape and infrastructure in America. …

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Retiring “rural”

by Andrew Holton on May 19, 2017

This week's Friday@Five

A New Slant

Work and economic mobility can be deeply partisan issues. Andy Smarick at the American Enterprise Institute has written about a framework for evaluating these issues that can be useful regardless of one’s political leanings. Using the acronym CAN DO, he frames five elements that he argues need to be addressed in workforce planning: culture, access, necessity, desire and openings. Smarick has thoughts on each of these elements, many of which are compelling and worthy of discussion.

The policy points, however, are the gravy in this piece. Here, the utility is in the way that he includes sociological and psychological elements into macroeconomic thoughts about work. He acknowledges the need to discuss and potentially recalibrate values in order to create policy outcomes that represent where we are going rather than where we have been. For those who agree with his values, he gives a thoughtful framework for explaining them. For those who do not, his framework is still relevant and provides a structure for making fundamental counter arguments.

The Other 49

The Urban Institute has an interactive tool comparing state level policies on immigration. The tool allows users to select between different types of immigration policies and then quickly map which states have enacted policies of that type. It also provides the ability to chart the policies over time to see which states were early adopters and which are laggards. In a few minutes, users can get a decent overview of state-level immigration policies.

Contextual Healing

Three good reads from Governing this week:

  • The “This Week in Public Finance” column provides a digestible, high-level view of the Trump budget.
  • In light of the Trump budget proposal, Governing breaks down how much states rely on federal funding for their state budgets.  
    • North Carolina is in the middle with 32 percent of state funds coming from the federal government.  Louisiana and Mississippi lead the way with 42 percent, while North Dakota receives the smallest percentage from the federal government at 18 percent.
    • The analysis further breaks down the percentage state expenditures on public welfare programs (e.g., Medicaid and child welfare services) that come from the federal government. Federal dollars accounts for 76 percent of North Carolina’s public welfare expenditures, the 8th highest percentage in the country.  The national average is 63 percent. It is worth noting that the Trump budget significantly reduces the federal payments to these programs. It is worth monitoring if Congress considers these reductions and how it will affect the N.C. budget.
  • Finally, there is a column emphasizing the importance of human resources management in increasing government performance.  While more synthesis than profundity, this piece provides good bulletin board material for anyone looking to upgrade the frame human resources and performance management.

In the Weeds

UNC School of Government professor Frayda Bluestein has a blog post clarifying the recent changes to N.C. Public Records Act.  Senate Bill 131 allowed for public entities to consider a record made available online to be a sufficient response to a public records request. In other words, if someone asks for a document that is posted online, an agency may point to the online record rather than producing it separately for the requestor. While ministerial, this change should have two significant impacts: (1) it should incentivize agencies to produce more information online and (2) it should reduce the burden on agencies that regularly receive the same requests.

Making News

The New Orleans city council has received a lot of coverage about its decision to remove four confederate monuments from the city. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s speech last Friday discussing the decision is a solid example of a politician making a thoughtful, passionate case for a controversial action. The Times-Picayune posted the transcript. It is worth the read.

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