April 19, 2014

Top Story

School Salary Transparency Can Help Disadvantaged Students

Shine a light on stark funding gaps between low- and high-poverty schools

Lisa Snell

Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest budget includes $11.8 billion in increased education spending next fiscal year and the Legislative Analyst’s Office predicts that schools may receive even more money thanks to higher-than-expected tax revenue. Much of this money will be distributed through a new funding plan called the Local Control Funding Formula, which aims to get more funding to students with the greatest needs.

California school districts have a terrible track record when it comes to spending resources on their most disadvantaged students. An October 2012 report by Education Trust-West found stark funding gaps between low- and high-poverty schools in California’s 20 largest school districts. Schools with more experienced teachers and serving fewer students living in poverty received far more funding per teacher than higher-poverty schools.


Bad News for the Prairie Chicken as Environmental Groups Oppose Conservation Plan

Lawsuit victory would mean business as usual under the Endangered Species Act

Brian Seasholes

The lesser prairie chicken, which was listed under the Endangered Species Act two weeks ago, just got some more bad news.  On Thursday, three environmental pressure groups—Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and Wild Earth Guardians—filed an intent to sue the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service over a conservation plan for the bird the agency approved at the time of listing.  Ironically, while these groups claim the lawsuit will help the prairie chicken, a win will actually be detrimental to the species by discouraging landowners from conserving it.  With almost all of the prairie chicken’s habitat in private hands, landowners are the key to the bird’s conservation.


Robbing Cap and Trade to Pay for High-Speed Rail in California

Gov. Brown's plan can't be justified on sound environmental or fiscal grounds

Lance Christensen

Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest budget magic trick seeks to find a way to pay for the proposed California high-speed rail system. Brown wants to shift money from the state greenhouse gas reduction program to the train project so the California High-Speed Rail Authority can spend $300 million from the state’s cap-and-trade revenues next year, $400 million the year after that, and then the rail system would get approximately one-third of cap-and-trade revenues every year thereafter.


With Pension Costs Soaring, Should New Jersey Commit Billions to More Open Space Preservation?

Leonard Gilroy, Julian Morris

The New Jersey Legislature is currently considering a bill that would amend the state Constitution to dedicate six percent of the state’s Corporation Business Tax revenues from FY2016 to FY2045 for the purpose of open space, farmland and historic preservation. But it is unclear why additional land preservation is needed when a significant portion of the state is already off-limits to development. Nor is it clear why there is a rush to lock in three decades of massive funding for land preservation when far higher spending priorities—primarily, rapidly rising government retiree pension and debt service costs—loom.


Airport Policy and Security News #99

TSA leaves third-party PreCheck companies in the lurch, Airport expansion and noise compensation, The no-reform TSA budget proposal

Robert Poole

In this issue:

  • TSA leaves third-party PreCheck companies in the lurch
  • Airport expansion and noise compensation
  • The no-reform TSA budget proposal
  • Could Detroit support two airports?
  • TSA rejects arming screeners
  • News Notes
  • Quotable Quotes


Taking Seriously Highway Users’ Concerns Over Tolling

Robert Poole

Ramming Interstate tolling down the customers’ throats is not only unlikely to prevail in Congress, it is also foolish. That’s not how any other provider of a new and better product or service approaches potential customers. You need to figure out what need the potential customer has and come up with a value proposition showing that your answer is sufficiently better than the status quo to promote acceptance.


Pension Protection and the Detroit Bankruptcy

Detroit's Chapter 9 proceeding can proceed, despite constitutional concerns about impairing public-employee pensions

Alexander Volokh

In previous posts, I’ve discussed how public employee pensions are protected by the Contract Clause of the federal and state constitutions, and I’ve explained the intricacies of constitutional provisions like that in California. It turns out that constitutional pension protections interact interestingly with bankruptcy law, as we’re finding out in the ongoing Detroit bankruptcy.


Surface Transportation News #126

Value-Added Tolling: getting to "yes" on Interstate modernization, How to mislead with transit data, New developments in arterial underpasses

Robert Poole

In this issue:

  • Value-Added Tolling: getting to "yes" on Interstate modernization
  • How to mislead with transit data
  • New developments in arterial underpasses
  • Fifth Amendment deals setback to rails-to-trails
  • Continuing debates over mileage-based user fees
  • First truck toll lanes open in Tampa
  • Upcoming Conferences
  • News Notes
  • Quotable Quotes



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