State and Local Policy Publications

Below is a list of our reports related to state and local publications, in descending order by year published. Explore other topics here and all COWS reports here.

  • Joel Rogers. Biden’s Task and Ours. Vol. 50, no. 4, Social Policy, 2020, p. 9.
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  • City leaders, including mayors, play a critical role in community wealth building and are this brief’s intended audience. However, this work requires multiple actors, including community organizers and developers. This brief is useful to anyone committed to equitable economic development in their community but is intended primarily for city leaders. This report was made possible by generous funding from the Surdna Foundation.

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  • Joel Rogers, Kevin Knutson, and Mike Bell. Productive Places in a Post-Pandemic Era: A Roadmap for Cities and Counties. Envisio Blog, 2020.
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  • Joel Rogers. How About Productive Democracy for a Change. no. 1, Social Policy, 2020, pp. 19-25.
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  • Matthew Braunginn, Ceri Jenkins, and Mariah Young-Jones. Setting the Agenda: A Mayor’s Guide to Water Affordability. Mayors Innovation Project, 2019.

    Aging water infrastructure systems, climate change, and the general rising cost of urban living mean that access to clean and affordable water is becoming a greater challenge. Cities and water utilities are increasingly faced with a major financial dilemma: increase rates to update infrastructure and price out ratepayers, or keep rates static at the expense of aging and failing infrastructure. At the fulcrum of this choice sits those most vulnerable to increases in rates: low-to-moderate income households, which are disproportionately made up of women and/or people of color.

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  • Ceri Jenkins, and Mariah Young-Jones. Actionable Solutions for Public Water Systems. Mayors Innovation Project, 2019.

    From climate change to outdated infrastructure to lack of federal support, city leaders face more pressure than ever to provide affordable and safe water to residents. Mayors and city leaders need the resources to plan for and improve and maintain public water systems. This report outlines concrete actions a city can take to keep control of its water systems and provides a background to understanding the complexity of public water systems and their current challenges. The solutions for managing robust public systems include topics such as: integrating management approaches for water with other goals; engaging the public in conversations about this valuable resource; promoting affordability of water services; among many more.

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  • Matthew Braunginn, Erica DePalma, Howard Neukrug, Satya Rhodes-Conway, and Mariah Young-Jones. Basic Water Utility Management. Mayors Innovation Project, 2019.

    Access to safe and affordable drinking water is a human right, and it is the duty of the water utility to ensure that this right is protected and upheld. Understanding the different ways water intersects with your city is critical. Basic Water Utility Management provides local leaders with a foundation for understanding their local water systems, including: understanding what a successful water system looks like; getting up to speed on government compliance; identifying infrastructure and maintenance needs; and engaging with community members around water resources.

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  • Matthew Braunginn, Erica DePalma, Howard Neukrug, Satya Rhodes-Conway, and Mariah Young-Jones. Paying for Water Systems. Mayors Innovation Project, 2019.

    Even as the scale of needed investment grows, utilities can develop rate structures, impact fees, and new products or services that generate needed revenue fairly. This report is a primer on getting started with financing water systems, including: assessing where the largest costs are incurred and where borrowing is most extensive; understanding your city’s specific water utility structure and financial status; building a relationship with your water utility manager/CEO(s); and reaching out to and growing relationships with community leaders across a range of neighborhoods and interests, and asking questions about needs and water affordability.

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  • Matthew Braunginn, James Irwin, and Satya Rhodes-Conway. Reducing Carbon Risk & Investing in Local Economic Strength. Mayors Innovation Project, 2019.

    Climate change poses a risk to communities and their investments. There is a growing toolbox of measures cities can take to combat climate change. One of these tools, divestment from fossil fuels, is ethical, viable, and a moral imperative. Successful divest/invest strategies are a matter of political will. Steps a city can take: determine if they have funds that should be divested; reinvest the capital moved from fossil fuel stocks to a Green Bank or Revolving Loan Fund; identify what opportunities there are to attract “fossil free” investments to sustainable projects via green bonds or other mechanisms; ensure that any jobs created through this process are quality jobs.

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  • In the 20th Century, people from around the world came to Wisconsin and the Midwest, seeking opportunity in the industrial boom. Manufacturing and unions helped create good jobs for many black workers, but discrimination and segregation limited that sharply. When industrial jobs declined, black Midwesterners suffered the most. Over the last 40 years, opportunity and outcomes for black residents in Wisconsin have fallen below national averages. As a result, black Wisconsinites face stubborn barriers and road blocks that many white people don’t even know are there. Racial disparity in Wisconsin is not inevitable, but closing the gap will require a broad focus and multifaceted approach.

    ‘Wisconsin’s Extreme Racial Disparity’ provides a Wisconsin-focused summary to ‘Race in the Heartland‘, which shows the persistence of racial disparities in the Midwest and what can be done about them.

    Wisconsin has the regrettable distinction of ranking among the worst states in the nation for racial inequality. Disparities among black and white residents of our state – spanning poverty, unemployment, educational attainment, and incarceration – have been documented consistently for more than a decade. Although activists and policymakers have increasingly focused on addressing these issues, they remain pressing.

    ‘Race in the Heartland’ and ‘Wisconsin’s Extreme Racial Disparity’ provide a careful historical context and a broadly informed policy framework that are critical to winning greater racial equity throughout this region.

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