Ashali Singham

2012 Rappaport Public Policy Summer Fellow

May 24, 2012

Graduate School: Harvard Kennedy School
Undergraduate School:Yale University
Areas of Interest: Municipal Finance
Mentors:Lisa Calise, The Perkins School for the Blind and Matt Mayrl, City of Boston Department of Public Works
Placement: Massachusetts Executive Office for Adminstration and Finance
Supervisor:Greg Mennis, Assistant Secretary for Finance and Infrastructure
Project Description:Ashali spent this summer working at the Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance. She worked on two projects: the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Commission and the Infrastructure Investment Incentive program (I-Cubed). The OPEB Commission is looking at retiree benefits aside from pensions, which includes retiree healthcare benefits. The Commission was established at the end of 2011, and will produce any final materials by the end of November of 2012. Over the summer, she worked on materials for two OPEB Commission meetings and produced follow-up materials for her agency in preparation for the following meeting. Her research included looking at other states’ eligibility requirements for health insurance subsidies and the amount of health insurance subsidies that these states provided. Additionally, she worked with her supervisor to develop an Excel model that estimates the cost savings of different options for retiree health benefit reform. She also helped coordinate logistics for the two meetings she attended. Her second project was on the Infrastructure Investment Incentive Program, which is an infrastructure program run through the Executive Office for Administration and Finance. She developed documents on the I-Cubed approval process and looked at the inclusion of construction tax revenue in I-Cubed calculations.

The OPEB Commission website is here: http://www.mass.gov/anf/opeb-commission.html

Ashali says "As a Rappaport Fellow, I was given work that was relevant for my agency and interesting to me. In my time at the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, I gained experience with fiscal policy issues, particularly issues relating to health benefits and infrastructure finance. One of the most valuable parts of the Rappaport Fellowship for me was the experience I gained working directly in a government agency. I had worked on state fiscal policy issues before, but not from inside a government agency, and the Rappaport Fellowship gave me the opportunity to see how fiscal policy is made in practice. Having this experience to draw on will be very useful for me in the future. Additionally, the value of the Rappaport Fellowship extended beyond my experience working at the Executive Office for Administration and Finance. The Rappaport seminars gave me opportunities to learn outside of my work at the agency. I got to interact with other Rappaport Fellows working in various agencies, and talking with them inside and outside of the Rappaport seminars gave me a broad view of the policy work being done in the Greater Boston area. Finally, I felt that I always had support from the Rappaport Institute, starting before the summer began, and that I will have connections with the Institute even after I graduate."