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Higher education is a powerful tool that can help improve economic standing and mobility. For many families, however, the expense of college  presents prospective students with a dilemma: delay or forego higher education or incur significant debt in pursuit of a degree. On this episode of Policy Outsider, guest Leila Bozorg, Chief of Strategy & Policy at NYC Kids RISE, explains how her organization is working to help New York City families meet this dilemma with a new tool: college savings invested in tax-free child investment accounts. The conversation covers how these child investment accounts work, how the organization measures progress and success, and recommendations for policymakers seeking to advance equity and affordability in higher education.
Over the weekend, and about a week after it was due, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a $220 billion budget for the 2023 fiscal year. The budget includes significant investments in sectors hit hard by the pandemic, such as healthcare, a full funding of foundation aid (the state's public education funding formula), and $4.2 billion for the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. On this episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute researchers and fellows join to provide an overview of the enacted budget and put into context the investments made in specific areas, such as education, COVID recovery, local government, childcare, the forthcoming retail marijuana market, and the environment.
Complex government programs, such as Medicaid, are often accompanied by strict registration and eligibility requirements. These administrative burdens can frustrate and stymie potentially eligible individuals, limiting individuals’ access to public programs and legally-entitled benefits. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, University at Albany Associate Professor Ashley Fox discusses her recent article in Public Administration Review which found rule-reduction changes to ease Medicaid enrollment can improve program take-up (i.e., increase enrollment). The conversation covers the consequences of administrative burden on states and individuals and ways governments can use administrative easing to improve public programs.
New York City's top fiscal official, Jacques Jiha, Ph.D., joins Policy Outsider to discuss how the City managed its budget through the turbulence of the pandemic, how the City's budget process differs from the State's, and how the City and State work together to maintain fiscal stability in the largest metropolitan region of the country.
Fresh off delivering 30-day budget amendments to the NYS Legislature, NYS Budget Director Robert Mujica joined host Alex Morse and Rockefeller Institute President Bob Megna for a conversation about this year's budget, the delicate art of negotiations, and what it's like to lead the Division of the Budget through the budget process
Too many young children and families lack access to proper health care and early education. To address this need, the New York State Department of Health put forward the First 1,000 Days on Medicaid initiative, which aims to improve lifelong education and health outcomes for underserved children by focusing on early childhood development programs and interventions. In a new episode of Policy Outsider, guest Melodie Baker, project leader of the Rockefeller Institute’s partnership project with the Department of Health on the First 1,000 Days initiative, joins host Alex Morse to discuss how using local collective impact strategies might help strengthen these innovative practices designed to increase education attainment and health access for children and families in need.  
Bob Megna, president of the Rockefeller Institute of Government and former New York State budget director, joins Policy Outsider host Alex Morse to discuss the behind-the-scenes of the New York State budget process. The conversation covers the budget development timeline, the players involved, and how the current economic landscape, including the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, may affect policies, programs, and funding priorities.
Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced New York State will help resettle as many 1,143 Afghan nationals evacuated from Afghanistan in cities across the state. On this episode, guests Camille Mackler, founder and executive director of Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative (ARC), and Professor Sarah Rogerson, director of the Immigration Law Clinic at the Albany Law School, discuss the status of the current refugee crisis, the challenges refugees and resettlement agencies will face in the coming months, and policy changes that may help ease the resettlement process.
Production of concrete, the worlds most used building material is a major contributor to total global carbon emissions each year. On this episode of Policy Outsider, Matt Adams, a Richard P. Nathan fellow at the Rockefeller institute, and Nicola Armacost, mayor of the village of Hastings-on-Hudson, in Westchester County, NY, join host Alexander Morse to discuss a local policy initiative in Hastings-on-Hudson aimed at promoting low-carbon concrete. The conversation, which builds on a recent policy brief, also touches on the role local, state, and federal governments can play in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from concrete.
The expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) has the potential to dramatically reduce child poverty, improve child and parent health, and smooth fluctuations in available funds for lower-income families. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, Leigh Wedonoja, senior policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute, discusses changes to the child tax credit, how those changes make the credit operate more like the Earned Income Tax Credit, and why the CTC is predicted to improve outcomes for children and families.
The New York State 2021 legislative session wrapped up late last week with a handful of firearm bills passing the Senate and Assembly. On a new episode of Policy Outsider, Joe Popcun, executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium and director of policy and practice at the Rockefeller Institute, and Nick Simons, project coordinator at the Rockefeller Institute, discuss the major firearm bills that will be sent to the Governor, the issues those bills address, and how research can best support policymakers as they seek to disrupt the cycle of firearm-involved violence.
On May 8, in response to an executive order from President Biden, the Department of Justice proposed a new rule to limit the proliferation of "ghost guns," or firearms that do not have a unique serial number. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute Project Coordinator Nicholas Simons explains what is in the new rule, how it may impact the use of ghost guns, and the next steps for finalizing the rule. The episode also covers Simons' recent policy brief, "Ghost Guns: A Haunting New Reality," and provides background on what ghost guns are, their increasing prevalence in law enforcement seizures, and what policymakers at the state level are doing to clarify and strengthen policy surrounding their use.
New York State will legalize adult-use recreational marijuana. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute Director of Operations and Fellow Heather Trela breaks down what is in the 77,529 word marijuana legalization bill and, importantly, what is not in the bill. Trela, a federalism expert turned marijuana policy maven, brings valuable context to the discussion, comparing revenue structure, social justice provisions, and other logistical considerations in New York's legislation to the 14 other states that have already legalized recreational marijuana.
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute Deputy Director of Research Laura Rabinow discusses her recent research examining the capacity of the Environmental Protection Agency to support the Biden administration's ambitious climate and environmental goals following regulatory and administrative changes at the agency under the Trump administration and years of staffing and budget declines.
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute Nathan Fellow Rebecca Natow joins host, Alex Morse, to discuss her latest analysis examining the retirement of US Senator and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Lamar Alexander, the role of the HELP Committee in setting congressional agendas and actions in higher education, and the likely choice for next Senate HELP Committee chair in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The Rockefeller Institute recently examined ballot initiatives in Oregon and Washington DC that would decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms ("magic mushrooms"). In this episode of Policy Outsider, guest Heather Trela, director of operations and fellow at the Institute, provides an update on the outcome of magic mushroom and marijuana ballot initiatives, discusses how the liberalization of marijuana throughout the US provided a blueprint for magic mushroom advocates, and shares where cities, states, and the federal government might be headed with drug policy.
In this episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute researchers and fellows share remarks on the important policy issues facing the winner of the presidential election. Researchers in economic development, education, climate, gun policy, and healthcare present some of the key questions, concerns, and policy challenges that lie before the nation and consider the approach the next presidential administration may take to address them. Guests: Laura Schultz, executive director of research at the Rockefeller Institute Brian Backstrom, director of educational policy studies at the Rockefeller Institute Laura Rabinow, deputy director of research at the Rockefeller Institute Joe Popcun, director of policy and practice at the Rockefeller Institute Michael Gusmano, fellow at the Rockefeller Institute
Under the Trump administration, the agencies and processes of the federal bureaucracy—i.e. the "Administrative State"—have been targeted for deconstruction and reorganization. In this episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute Fellow and Professor at Daemen College Lisa Parshall discusses the Trump administration's approach to governing, including how presidents have limited the power and scale of the federal bureaucracy and how this administration has challenged presidential and administrative norms.
COVID-19 has raised many questions about voting in the 2020 election: how do we keep poll workers and voters safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic? What changes can be made to make voting more accessible? What are some of the challenges voters still face? In this episode of Policy Outsider, guests Laura Bierman, executive director of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of New York State, and Jennifer Wilson, LWV legislative director, discuss changes made to voting procedures for the 2020 election and the work of LWV to expand and ensure voting access. The conversation also covers how Boards of Election across New York State are responding to the pandemic, including operational changes made to protect voters and poll workers.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has a long history of technological innovation. It is, and has been, central to the project of democracy in the US, enabling the growth and free exchange of newspapers and information and connecting citizens to each other across the nation's expanse. In this episode of Policy Outsider, guest David Hochfelder, associate professor at the University at Albany, explains the Postal Service's mandate to provide "universal service," explores the Postal Service's history of innovation, and offers potential new uses for the USPS infrastructure that would satisfy its mandate.
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