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Cambridge, MA – Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the American Education Foundation (AEF) will launch a research effort this fall – the “Annual Report of the States” – to produce nonpartisan analysis on the budgets of a half-dozen U.S. states.
The project aims to stimulate conversation about the fiscal challenges of state governments at a time when U.S. States are struggling with budget deficits, falling tax revenues and strapped social programs. Based on The Annual Report of the USA, a publication of the Harvard Political Review – a top undergraduate journal on politics and public policy – the state reports will provide reliable, clear, straightforward examinations of state budgets, public policy and the overall fiscal health of each state.
The reports – to be published in the spring of 2012 – will cover over a half-dozen states including California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Texas, and will be based on FY 2010 budget data. Analysis will address overall economic trends, including unemployment rates, the finances of pension programs and educational budgets – and offer a context for understanding how public policy affects all citizens.
“Our students are excited to work on the ‘Annual Report of the States,’ an important effort to shed light on the true financial condition of our states today,” said Trey Grayson, Director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. “In these tough economic times and uncertain future, promoting more openness and information between citizens and their government is a critical goal.”
“Just as a corporation reports to shareholders on the financial health of a company, so should our state governments report to citizens on the ‘state of the states.’ It is our hope that this project will usher in a new era of transparency in financial reporting at the state government level,” said Meredith Bagby, Executive Director, AEF.
The Institute is working to engage undergraduate and graduate students at Harvard to join the project’s small, elite team of economists, accountants, writers, and graphic designers to analyze data. The IOP joins a select group of educational institutions -- to be announced this fall -- participating in the effort. Following publication, project partners will continue to promote the reports as an educational resource for a variety of constituencies including government officials and policymakers, the media, middle schools, high schools and universities.