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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

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Future Public Policy Forums to be Announced

2010 Forums and Events

Robert L. Megna

A Conversation with Lt. Governor Richard Ravitch

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch's term will end soon, but he plans to continue to contribute to the conversation about fiscal challenges facing New York and other states, he told this public policy forum. Governor David Paterson appointed Mr. Ravitch in July 2009. The Lieutenant Governor has since been working to educate New York voters and policymakers about the need to move the state toward structural budgetary balance, and developing recommendations to do so. In a question-and-answer session with Institute Deputy Director Robert B. Ward, Mr. Ravitch spoke about various aspects of his recommendations, including the need for officials to consider what services the state can afford to provide, while recognizing the state's self-interest in investing in education and a deteriorating transportation infrastructure. He also talked about the interplay among federal, state and local governments in addressing economic and fiscal issues that are being felt at all levels.

Institute Forum summary
Audio (Full)

Video: Introduction by Rockefeller Institute Director Thomas Gais
Video: Opening Remarks of Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch
Video: Richard Ravitch, answering questions from Robert Ward
Video: Question-and-Answer session

The Lieutenant Governor's reports

Mark KissingerSam Morgante

Paying for Long-Term Care: Families or Taxpayers?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Long-term care represents one of the largest and fastest-growing costs in Medicaid, the government health insurance program intended for low-income people. Much of the cost in the last several decades has derived from more affluent people transferring their assets to heirs before their death; this reduces their personal net worth, qualifies them for Medicaid and requires the public program to cover their nursing home or home-care expenses. At this forum, experts discussed a public-private effort in New York — the New York State Partnership for Long Term Care — that encourages state residents to purchase insurance to cover their long-term care expenses and guarantees they will not need to sell off their assets if the insurance runs out. Representing the public half of the partnership was Mark Kissinger (pictured, top), deputy commissioner of the New York State Health Department. Representing the insurance industry side was Sam Morgante (bottom), vice president for governmental relations at Genworth Financial Inc.

Institute Forum summary
Audio (Full)

Video: Introduction by Courtney Burke of the Rockefeller Institute
Courtney Burke's slide presentation

Video: Mark Kissinger
Mark Kissinger's slide presentation

Video: Sam Morgante
Sam Morgante's slide presentation

Video: Question-and-Answer session
Robert L. Megna

Should New York City's Campaign Finance System
Be a Model for the State?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New York City has achieved impressive results in engaging more residents in the political process, Michael Malbin (pictured, left) argued at this public policy forum. The city has accomplished this, he said, through campaign finance rules that encourage more individual donations by providing matching public funds. Malbin, a professor of political science at Rockefeller College and executive director of The Campaign Finance Institute, presented simulations that showed what would happen to statewide election campaigns if the state adopted some of the same reforms. His conclusion: Instituting the city's campaign finance rules statewide could have the desirable effect of increasing small-donor participation and limiting the influence of large donors. Jerry H. Goldfeder (pictured, right), an expert on election law, countered that the focus on increasing the number of small donors was not the right one. He argued for a statewide campaign finance system that provides flat public grants to candidates, as is available in presidential elections.

Institute Forum summary
Audio (Full)

Video: Michael Malbin
Professor Malbin's slide presentation

Video: Jerry Goldfeder
Video: Question-and-Answer session

Robert L. Megna

The Budget Outlook for 2011

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New York State Budget Director Robert L. Megna outlined the state’s current fiscal position, the revenue and expenditure outlook, and the budgetary challenges facing the new governor and the Legislature in the coming year. The new state administration will face a budget deficit of $9 billion-$10 billion in fiscal year 2011-2012 and that is estimated to grow to $17 billion by fiscal year 2013-2014, Megna said. Because Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has already said that he does not favor tax increases, difficult choices will need to be made to address the budget gaps through cuts, according to the budget director. “We are in the position now where the state is going to have to decide that there are certain things that it’s not going to be able to do anymore the way it’s been doing them in the past,” he concluded. “The numbers just don’t allow it.”

Institute Forum summary
Audio (Full)

Video: Robert L. Megna
Mr. Megna's slide presentation

Video: Question-and-Answer session

Richard Daines

Not So Sweet: The Failure of a Public Health IPO
in the Political Derivatives Market

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New York State Health Commissioner Richard Daines has twice promoted proposals by Governor David Paterson to tax soda and other sugary beverages — and twice seen those efforts defeated. At this forum, Daines offered a public policy rationale for increasing the cost of sweetened drinks — which he described as a major contributor to the obesity epidemic — and discussed the political battles and media imagery that worked against the campaign for the tax. He likened the industry reaction and media coverage of the proposal to the financial derivatives that contributed to the housing market bust in 2008.

Institute Forum summary
Audio (Full)

Video: Richard Daines
Richard Daines' slide presentation

Video: Question-and-Answer session

Richard P. Nathan Deborah Bachrach

Implementing Health Reform

Monday, September 27, 2010

Washington and the states are undertaking the complex task of implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal law signed by President Obama in March. Former Institute Director Richard P. Nathan questioned whether the law will accomplish the essential goals of efficiency and cost control, given the wide range of influential constituencies that oppose change in the health-care system. He stressed that federal mandates should not treat states as if they are all the same, but consider how national policies will be implemented differently in varying states. Health-care consultant Deborah Bachrach, formerly deputy commissioner of health and Medicaid director for New York State, detailed some of the implementation tasks that states face, and urged New York legislators to consider immediately the design of legislation that must be in place for reforms that are mandated in 2014.

Institute Forum summary
Audio (Full)

Video: Richard P. Nathan
Richard Nathan's paper

Video: Deborah Bachrach
Deborah Bachrach's slide presentation

Video: Question-and-Answer session
photo of Benjamin and Feldman

“Tales from the Sausage Factory: Making Laws in
New York State” — A Book Forum

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Former New York State Assemblyman Daniel L. Feldman (pictured, right) and SUNY Distinguished Professor Gerald Benjamin (left) discussed their book, which argues that the New York Legislature was once a professional model for the nation and shows how it might regain that position.

Institute Forum summary
Audio (Full)

Video: Daniel L. Feldman
Video: Gerald Benjamin
Video: Question-and-Answer session
Joseph D. Morelle

How Will New York Implement Health Reform?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

With relatively generous public health insurance programs, New York may be in a better position than many states to implement changes mandated by the health reform law that Congress passed in March. Yet many questions remain regarding how the state and localities will accomplish implementation — including the issue of how they will pay for it, said speakers at this Institute public policy forum. James Knickman, president and chief executive officer of the New York State Health Foundation, led the discussion with an overview of the changes required by the new law. Joseph D. Morelle (pictured), chair of the New York State Assembly’s Standing Committee on Insurance, stressed the need to balance the desire for more comprehensive insurance coverage with the costs of that coverage. Robert Doar, commissioner of the New York City Human Resources Administration, called for identification of a single agency to oversee all the changes required by health reform, to avoid having implementation get bogged down in bureaucratic red tape.

Institute Forum summary
Audio (Full)

Video: James Knickman
James Knickman's slide presentation

Video: Joseph Morelle

Video: Robert Doar
Robert Doar's slide presentation

Video: Question-and-Answer session
Dr. John B. King Jr.
Doug Lemov

The Role of Teacher Training in Education Reform

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

As debates over education reform intensify at both the national and state levels, policymakers and scholars are increasingly focusing on the key role of quality teaching in improving student achievement. At this public policy forum, John B. King Jr. (pictured, above left), senior deputy commissioner for P-12 education at the New York State Education Department, discussed the state's efforts to improve teacher performance and accountability. Doug Lemov (pictured, below left), managing director of the charter school system True North Public Schools, shared findings about methods used by exceptional teachers, which he has detailed in the new book, Teach Like A Champion: The 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College. Institute Senior Fellow Kenneth R. Howey led the discussion and outlined several major efforts to improve teacher preparation in areas across the country, including a forthcoming paper outlining his vision for a coherent structure to provide teachers with enriched clinical experience.

Institute Forum summary
Audio (Full)

Video: Kenneth R. Howey
Video: John B. King Jr.
Video: Doug Lemov
Video: Question-and-Answer session
Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell

A Five-Year Plan to Eliminate New York's
Structural Deficit?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch has outlined a five-year financial plan under which New York State would be required to achieve and maintain structural budgetary balance. Leaders in the state Senate and Assembly have offered their own proposals for budget reform. This Institute forum brought together leading members of the Senate and Assembly majorities, and independent fiscal experts, to comment on the plan. Speakers were the Honorable Liz Krueger, chair of the Senate Committee on Budget and Tax Reform (pictured); the Honorable Herman D. Farrell, chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee (pictured); Elizabeth Lynam, deputy research director for the Citizens Budget Commission; E.J. McMahon, director of the Empire Center for New York State Policy; and Frank J. Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute.

Institute Forum summary
Lieutenant Governor Ravitch's Five-Year Fiscal Plan

Audio of Forum (Full)

Video of Senator Liz Krueger
Video of Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell
Video of Q&A session following Krueger and Farrell

Video of Elizabeth Lynam
Video of E.J. McMahon
Video of Frank J. Mauro
Video of Q&A session following Lynam, McMahon and Mauro
David Steiner

An Agenda for Education Reform in New York

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In a thoughtful and provocative presentation outlining his vision for education reform, New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner said the current practice of designing curricula to meet a predetermined, standardized outcome "is actually backwards." What the state — and country — needs, he said, is a thoughtful conversation over the question, "What is an educated citizen?" If curricula are developed with that aim in mind, and teachers are properly trained to teach the curricula, then the desired outcome is more likely to be reached, Steiner continued. He called for a balance among curriculum development, teacher training and educational assessments to improve schools.

Institute Forum summary
Audio (Full)

Video of David Steiner's presentation

Video of Question-and-Answer session

Daniel J. Burling
William Parment

Redistricting Reform:
Visions for the Future in New York State

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

This forum, which the Institute co-sponsored with the League of Women Voters of New York State, addressed the issue of redrawing the boundaries for legislative districts in New York after the 2010 U.S. Census and the effect that may have on competitive elections. Panelists were state Assemblyman Daniel J. Burling (pictured, top left); state Assemblyman William Parment (pictured, bottom left); Jeffrey Wice, special counsel to state Senator Martin Malave Dilan Sr.; Gerald Benjamin, associate vice president for regional engagement at the State University of New York at New Paltz; and Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. The discussion was moderated by Susan Arbetter, host of WCNY’s “The Capitol Pressroom.”

Institute Forum summary
Audio (Full)

Video: Gerald Benjamin
Video: William Parment
Video: Daniel Burling
Video: Jeffrey Wice

Video: First Question-and-Answer session

Video: Blair Horner
Blair Horner's slide presentation

Video: Final Question-and-Answer session