In Progress:

Public Debt Management: Strategy and Evidence (Under Contract). Cambridge University Press

Abstract: Effective public debt management can save millions of taxpayer dollars, ensure that needed infrastructure is delivered in an efficient and equitable way, and bolster trust in state and local government. When done poorly, it can squander taxpayers’ dollars and their goodwill. Given the tremendous complexity and careful scrutiny now surrounding municipal bonds, it’s more challenging than ever for public officials to get it right. As such, the goal of this book is to equip public debt management officials with a base of evidence to guide their strategic, policy, and tactical choices as they navigate the evolving municipal market landscape.

"Diversification and Stability in Illinois Local Government Revenues" (with Wesley Janson). Under Review.

Abstract: We propose and test a new measure of local government revenue diversification. Conventional wisdom suggests that local governments with more diversified revenue portfolios will have more stable revenues over time. However, traditional measures of revenue diversification do not account for co-movements across revenue sources that can lead to unexpected windfalls and shortfalls. To address this drawback we directly measure the volatility of local government revenue portfolios. We then test this new measure on all counties, cities and villages in Illinois from 2000-2021, and find it explains revenue windfalls and shortfalls much better than traditional diversification measures. We also find that revenue volatility is especially strong among local governments that depend on state intergovernmental revenues. State policymakers considering expansions of state intergovernmental revenues should consider these potential trade-offs, and should consider mitigating those trade-offs by requiring timely and regular local distributions of those revenues.

"Evaluating State Tax Preferences: Challenges and Opportunities." In Progress.

Abstract: States and localities forego nearly as much own-source revenue as they collect. That revenue is foregone through exemptions, abatements, credits, deductions, differential rates, and other “tax preferences.” Several states and localities have launched efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of those preferences. One approach to that effect is to subject tax preferences to regular program audits. In this paper I consider the veracity of this approach. Preliminary findings – based on a review of more than 250 tax preference evaluation reports and other documents from Washington State – suggest three primary challenges to this approach. Of particular concern is that many tax preferences have no stated intent, or their intent is to deliver targeted political benefits. But despite those drawbacks, this approach has considerable merits. I describe those merits and potential adjustments going forward.

Selected Recent Publications:

"Local Lodging Taxes Before, During and After the Pandemic" (with Tom Hazinski). Forthcoming at the Municipal Finance Journal.

"Stories and Sentiment in State and Local Government Finance." State and Local Government Review 53(3) (2021): 248-259.

"Aptitude, Accountability, and Adaptation: Research Themes for Public Budgeting, Finance, and Financial Management," In the Routledge Handbook of Public Administration, 4th ed. (2022), eds. Bart Hildreth, Ev Lindquist, and Gerald Miller (New York: Routledge).