This is the inaugural issue of the Missouri Policy Journal. In the “Guidelines for Authors” are the words “detached” and “analytical,” which we will strive to achieve.
In a political environment where there is a popular belief—no doubt perpetuated by a 24-hour news cycle dominated by cable television news shows—that everything needs to fit comfortably into an artificial existence of liberal versus conservative, with the Grand Canyon separating the two, it is difficult to take a step back and look at issues realizing that simple political labels often do not help in understanding. We seem to be living through a period where life is imitating art—television news needs to simplify the complex and, in the process, distortion seems to have replaced solid thought.
In a well-reasoned book about what ails America, Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium, Dick Meyer, executive editor of National Public Radio (NPR) news writes:
I actually am not a partisan and hold the two [political] parties in equally low regard. I am not a liberal or a conservative, I do not lurk in any particular wing, and my views are inconsistent. In all my writing, I try to be unpartisan and avoid doctrinal arguments. But I know that a large group of people will never believe me and will slot me into the pigeonhole of their choice. Thus are the times.
Here is a publication, the written word, and yet we wonder if many might have developed their ability to reason—informing how they evaluate this publication—through the visual medium of television, thereby shaping what they see and understand? Can this publication help to influence the level of political discourse that permeates television? Here is a goal that many publications hope to achieve, the Missouri Policy Journal among them.
Can ideology be put aside so any policy issue can be explored without the comfort of examining it through the prism of a particular political leaning? Can dilemma and conundrum, frustration and uncertainty, the “normal” in the study of public policy analysis, be fully explored? From this perspective, it is possible to develop hope that public policies analyzed and explored can contribute to good real-world policymaking.
A public policy journal that just focuses on one state, Missouri, is rare, yet needed. Sometimes publications use a particular state issue as a case study article; here, everything is about Missouri and we hope that the depth and analysis of our articles can be carried beyond this publication.
Reaching out to other researchers, academics, and policymakers through the articles in the Missouri Policy Journal is nice, but not enough—we hope to reach a broader public. Again, referring to our “Guidelines for Authors,” we come back to the goal of presenting articles “written so they can be read by the average educated adult reader.” The notion that there has to be a disconnect between people who specialize in the study of public policy issues and a broader general public also interested in issues that can affect them is something we wish to avoid. This is just to emphasize a point that is important to good writing: Think about your audience. This journal aims to write so that many can appreciate what we have to say.
Joseph A. Cernik, Editor
Cover: Denise Jacobson
Logo: Colleen M. Cernik, Lindenwood '14
Copy Editor: Shelley Walton
Web: Gerald Onyia
Time and Money: An Examination of Crime, Sentencing, and Corrections Budgeting Issues
America’s most recent recession has taken a toll on public agency budgets, including criminal justice agencies. More than half of U.S. states have had their corrections budgets reduced in recent years. Fortunately, crime has remained fairly stable during this same time frame, despite fears that unemployment and other social problems created by the recession would fuel crime rates. Yet the budget cuts are hardly without consequence. Correctional agencies have adapted with a variety of measures—layoffs, hiring and wage freezes, cutting treatment programs, eliminating or limiting non-essential services, releasing offenders early, and even closing institutions. All of these could potentially have an adverse impact on public safety. This article discusses recent and projected impacts of the current economic climate on Missouri correctional policy and practice. The complex relationship between crime rates, sentencing practices, and recidivism is explored, as is that between incarceration, deterrence, and politics, tracing these patterns over the past several decades. Finally, some strategies for long-term investments to reduce crime while managing costs, with an emphasis on prevention and reintegration, are presented and discussed.
The Missouri Quality Jobs Program: Rearranging the Deckchairs (and Throwing Some Overboard)
Howard J. Wall
According to the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED), the Missouri Quality Jobs Program (MQJP) will create 118 new jobs by 2020 for each $1 million dollars in tax credits awarded under the program. The claimed sources of these job gains are the direct increase in employment at the firm receiving the credits, and indirect increases at other firms due to spinoff and multiplier effects. Unfortunately, the DED’s estimates for these effects are based more on faith than on evidence. First, the DED rather naively assumes that all of the job gains at the firm receiving tax credits occur only because of the credits. Second, the DED’s projections of spinoff and multiplier effects are generated with a forecasting model that is incapable of an accurate accounting of negative substitution effects, such as the fact that many of the new jobs will be filled by people already employed locally. This paper summarizes new estimates of the employment effects of the MQJP using the actual, rather than the assumed, experience of local economies. What these estimates show is that after an initial net increase in employment following the authorization of tax credits, the net effect on employment becomes negative by the second year after authorization: Job gains in the county receiving the tax credits simply came at the expense of neighboring counties, who tended to have lost more jobs than the recipient county had gained. Finally, by the fourth year after authorization, the only statistically significant effects of the tax credits are job losses in neighboring counties.
All Employment is Local: Examining the Impact of the American Recovery and Revitalization Act (ARRA) on Two Missouri Counties (as Well as an Analysis of Missouri Tax Credit Programs)
Joseph A. Cernik
Employment is explored in the aftermath of the most recent “Great Recession”—the lingering effects are still being felt. Employment growth largely depends on what happens locally. This article examines the American Recovery and Revitalization Act (ARRA) often thought of as the Economic Stimulus Plan of the Obama Administration and its impact on two adjacent Missouri counties (Ste. Genevieve and Perry). County particulars are examined which impact how to understand employment in both counties. Furthermore, the issue of jobs created versus jobs retained is examined, as well as the difficulties of measuring the multiplier effect. Finally, Missouri tax credit programs are explored, again demonstrating the difficulties of measuring the multiplier effect as well as the cost effectiveness of these state government programs. Census data from the “County Business Patterns” are used to analyze local employment situations. Small Business issues related to local situations are addressed since they are essential to “jump starting” local economies.
Health Care in Missouri: Navigating Implementation of the Federal Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion in a Pushback Environment
The year 2014 marks the beginning of the implementation stage for the largest number of federal health care reform policies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010, and Missouri policymakers, health care providers, health insurance companies, and government agencies alike find themselves desperately trying to navigate uncertain waters. It is no surprise that perhaps the two most contentious and far-reaching policies for states under the PPACA mantra, implementation of state health insurance exchanges for the medically uninsured and state Medicaid expansion, stand to generate the largest number of unintended consequences for Missouri residents and the state’s economic well-being. For example, with an estimated 704,000 uninsured individuals in the state of Missouri, Medicaid expansion alone would not only provide health insurance to more of these individuals, but, according to Joel Ferber of the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance, it would also generate approximately $15.7 billion in federal matching funds to Missouri from 2014 to 2021, while only costing the state $806 million in state match. This organization is a statewide non-profit advocacy organization, which, as its mission states, is “dedicated to quality affordable health care for all.” This issue will be explored. Similarly, state health insurance exchanges are expected to provide affordable coverage to currently uninsured individuals with more moderate incomes, thus reducing cost-shifting to the insured in cases of medical emergencies.