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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

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2012 Forums and Events

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Public Sector Pension Reform: Addressing Pressing Fiscal Realities from a Long-Term Perspective

December 7, 2012

The Rockefeller Institute and the TIAA-CREF Institute brought together state and local government officials, policymakers, association and union leaders, and top researchers to examine a variety of reforms in public sector retirement systems. This is a critical issue for the future of state and local governments, some of which are facing enormous fiscal pressures, which in turn directly or indirectly affect nearly all state and local public services as well as their current workforce. Co-sponsored by the TIAA-CREF Institute and the Rockefeller Institute of Government. A summary report on the conference will be issued early in 2013.

Summary Report

Opening Session
  • H. Carl McCall, Chairman, Board of Trustees, The State University of New York, Welcoming Remarks
  • Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer, TIAA-CREF, Framing the Reform Challenge
  • Donald J. Boyd, Senior Fellow, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, Fiscal Challenges of Public Sector Pensions
  • Moderator: Garrick Utley, Senior Fellow, SUNY Levin Institute
Session I: Making Reform a Reality
Keynote Speaker
  • Earl Pomeroy, Senior Counsel, Alston & Bird LLP; Former member U.S. House of Representatives
  • Moderator: Garrick Utley, Senior Fellow SUNY Levin Institute
Session II: Retirement Plan Design for the Future Public Sector Workforce
  • Jeffrey R. Brown, William G. Karnes Professor of Finance, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, TIAA-CREF Institute Fellow
  • Robert L. Clark, Zelnak Professor, Poole College of Management, North Carolina State University; TIAA-CREF Institute Fellow
  • Joshua M. Franzel, Vice President, Research, Center for State and Local Government Excellence
  • David M. Morrell, University-Wide Benefits Administrator, The State University of New York
  • Yvonne R. Walker, President, Local 1000, Service Employees International Union; Chair, Retirement Security Committee of the SEIU Executive Board
  • Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers
  • Moderator: Paul J. Yakoboski, Senior Economist, TIAA-CREF Institute
Closing Remarks
  • Garrick Utley, Senior Fellow SUNY Levin Institute
  • Stephanie Bell-Rose, Senior Managing Director and Head of the TIAA-CREF Institute, TIAA-CREF
  • Thomas L. Gais, Director, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government
Panagopoulos and Skaggs image

Campaign Finance Reform in New York State: Regulating the Impact and Role of Money in Elections

December 3, 2012

Campaign finance reforms are once again a hot-button issue for New Yorkers. A panel of experts reviewed the problems posed by the ever-changing ways in which campaigns are financed, discussed what we know about how to deal with the issues and reforms currently before the Governor and the Legislature. The panel emphasized reforms in New York, though they also drew on developments and experiences from other states and the national level. Co-Sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute of Government and the League of Women Voters of New York State

Panelists include:

Costas Panagopoulos, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy and the graduate program in Elections and Campaign Management at Fordham University
Adam Skaggs, Senior Counsel, The Democracy Program of the Brennan Center for Justice
Michael J. Malbin, Executive Director, Campaign Finance Institute; Professor of Political Science, University at Albany (SUNY)
Jeffrey M. Stonecash, Maxwell Professor of Political Science, Maxwell School of Syracuse University
Barbara Bartoletti, Legislative Director, The League of Women Voters of New York State


Malbin Presentation
Bartoletti Presentation
Preserving our Democracy (A Briefing Paper Prepared by the League of Women Voters of New York State)
New CFI Research on State and Local Elections (The Campaign Finance Institute)

Hon. Brian Kolb image

A New New York: The Constitutional Dimension

November 29, 2012

For the first time in many years, two major constitutional amendments, first passed in 2012, will be considered by the New York State legislature in 2013 for second passage. If the proposed casino gambling and redistricting amendments pass again, they will be presented to the voters for approval in November of 2013. Moreover, we are growing closer to the required statewide vote every 20 years on the question: “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?” It will occur in 2017. The Forum featured two panel discussions. The focused on the constitutional issues in anticipation of the 2013 legislative session. The second considered more generally what could, or should, be removed from the current constitution. Co-Sponsored by EffectiveNY.Com, the Center for Research, Regional Engagement and Outreach CRREO at SUNY New Paltz, the Rockefeller Institute of Government, and the Albany Law School. Supported by funds from The New Roosevelt Foundation.

Greetings and Introduction – William Samuels, Chairman, New Roosevelt

State Constitution and State Constitutional Change – Gerald Benjamin, Director, CRREO

Panel I – Pending Actions and Recent Debates: Additions to the Constitution
Panel Chair: Peter Galie
Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Canisius College, Buffalo, New York

  • Richard Rifkin, Special Counsel to the NYS Bar Association
  • Robert Batson, Government Lawyer in Residence at the Government Law Center of Albany Law School.
  • Bruce Gyory, political and strategic consultant at Corning Place
Panel II – Should the NYS Constitution Be Shortened, and, if So, How?
Panel Chair: Christopher Bopst,
Partner, Goldberg Segalla LLP, Buffalo, New York


  • Dan Feldman, Attorney, John Jay faculty, former Assembly member
  • Alan Tarr, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for State Constitutional Studies, Rutgers University-Camden
  • Gerald Benjamin, Director CRREO
Commentary — Hon. Brian Kolb, Minority Leader, New York State Assembly

Luncheon Speaker — Judge Albert Rosenblatt, Judicial Fellow, New York University School of Law

Holcomb image

Oreos and Dubonnet: Remembering Governor Nelson A Rockefeller

A Book Forum

October 18, 2012

Authored by long-time Rockefeller advance man Joseph H. Boyd, Jr. and career political reporter, editor and publisher Charles R. Holcomb, Oreos and Dubonnet has been acclaimed by Rockefeller biographer and nationally prominent historian Richard Norton Smith for “reminding us of a time when politics could be fun as well as-yes-elevating.” Featured as part of the program will be a presentation by Mr. Holcomb on Boyd’s tenure with Rockefeller and what it was like to cover the Governor. These remarks by Mr. Holcomb will be followed by a panel discussion, moderated by award-winning political reporter and WCNY (NPR and PBS) News Director Susan Arbetter, and featuring former Rockefeller senior staff members.

Panelists include:

John C. Egan, former Coordinator of Utilities for the Governor Rockefeller-created Office of General Services
John Hanna, Jr., Former Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel to the Department of Environmental Conservation and former Counsel to the Office of Employee Relations under Governor Rockefeller
Dr. Alan D. Miller, Former Commissioner of the Dept of Mental Hygiene under Governor Rockefeller
Joseph E. Persico, Former speechwriter to Governor and Vice President Rockefeller
Michael Whiteman, Former Counsel to Governor Rockefeller


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Distressed Residential Real Estate: Dimensions, Impacts, and Remedies

October 5, 2012

This day-long conference will examine the current state of distressed real estate in the nation, including the impact on home prices, home ownership and neighborhoods, as well as state and local government finances. The day will end with a panel discussion on potential remedies, including policies intended to lessen the likelihood of foreclosure and to speed the re-absorption of foreclosed properties back into occupied housing stock. A Compendium of all the presentations is available at: FRB NY Conference Compendium. The agenda follows.

William Dudley, President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Thomas Gais, Director, Rockefeller Institute

Session I: Estimating the Volume in the Foreclosure/REO Pipeline
Dick Peach, Senior Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Jim Follain, Senior Fellow, Rockefeller Institute

Session II: Panel on Impacts of Foreclosures/Distressed Sales
Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist, Freddie Mac (Moderator, invited)
Mark Zandi, Chief Economist, Moody's Analytics
Paul Willen, Senior Economist and Policy Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Hui Shan, Mortgage Strategist, Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Ingrid Gould Ellen, Professor, New York University, Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy

Speaker: Governor Elizabeth A. Duke, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Session III: Impacts on State and Local Government Finances
Andy Haughwout, Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York (Moderator)
Byron Lutz, Senior Economist, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Kim Rueben, Senior Fellow, The Urban Institute
Christopher Hoene, Center Director, Center for Research and Innovation, National League of Cities

Session IV: Remedies Panel
Professor Kathleen Engel, Associate Dean, Suffolk University Law School (Moderator)
Peter Tatian, Senior Research Associate, The Urban Institute
Kirsten Keefe, Senior Staff Attorney, Empire Justice Center
Joseph Tracey, Executive Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Jim Orr, Assistant Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
P.J. McCarthy, Director, REO Alternative Dispositions, FannieMae (invited)
Senator Little image

The Challenge of Mandate Relief in New York State

Co-sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute and the League of Women Voters of New York State
October 2, 2012

This Forum will focus on the challenges New York State localities face in dealing with diminished state aid and unfunded mandates imposed by the state. Panelists will discuss the prospects for state mandate relief on municipalities and school districts and how local governments are managing their responsibilities under difficult circumstances.

Panelists include:
Robert L. Megna, New York State Budget Director
Senator Betty Little, New York State Senate
Stephen J. Acquario, Executive Director of the NYS Association of Counties
Timothy G. Kremer, Executive Director of NYS School Boards Association


Acquario Presentation
Kremer Handout-NYSSBA Playbook
Kremer Handout-Public Comment Form
Kremer Handout-Review Process
Michael Rebell and John Faso

Empire State Fellows Program

September 10-14, 2012

The inaugural group of Empire State Fellows began their work with training at the Rockefeller Institute. The Fellows program, part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New NY Leaders Initiative, is designed to prepare a new generation of leaders for policymaking roles in New York State government. The nine fellows, selected from a pool of more than 900 applicants, hail from diverse backgrounds and varied professions and were selected on the basis of their academic and professional experience, leadership potential and commitment to public service, as well as creativity. During their week at the Institute, they learned about such things as the structure and processes of state government, communicating effectively with internal and external audiences, and policy implementation. The Fellows will return to the Institute for further training and project work throughout their first year.

Read the Governor’s news release

Michael Rebell and John Faso

Safeguarding the Right to a Sound Basic Education in Times of Fiscal Constraint

June 20, 2012

In times of fiscal constraint, governors and legislatures must balance state budgets while ensuring that schools have the resources to provide students what the courts have defined as a “sound basic education.” Experts at this forum discussed the challenge of meeting both those requirements. The discussion was launched by Michael Rebell (pictured, left), head of The Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, which champions the right of all children to meaningful educational opportunity. Responding were attorney John J. Faso (pictured, right), a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, former minority leader in the state Assembly and the Republican candidate for governor in 2006, and Robert N. Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents.

Audio and video recordings of the event are accessible below. A summary will be available soon.


OECD logo

“What Works” Conference on Internationalization for Job Creation and Economic Growth

April 12-13, 2012

The Rockefeller Institute joined SUNY Global and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to host this two-day conference examining how internationalization can be leveraged to support economic development in the 21st century. Creative and effective approaches were highlighted against the urgency of a global economic crisis — with job creation, economic recovery policy, human capital development and innovation at the core of the discussion. The interplay between public policy, academia, and business and industry is key, experts said. This event was part of the OECD “What Works” conference series.

Click here to access a listing of the conference sessions, with links to papers, slide presentations, video and audio files.

Richard Kirsch

The Politics of Health Care Reform in New York and
the Nation: Looking Back and Looking Forward

April 10, 2012

Speakers examined the policy and political implications of the Affordable Care Act — the two-year-old health reform law — and potential further action by the Supreme Court, Congress and New York State policymakers. Institute Fellow Richard Kirsch (pictured), author of the book Fighting For Our Health, launched the forum with a discussion of the politics surrounding the passage of the act two years ago. Attorney Henry M. Greenberg, shareholder at Greenberg Traurig LLP, outlined the implications of possible decisions the U.S. Supreme Court could make as it considers the constitutionality of one of the act's key provisions. James R. Knickman, president of the New York State Health Foundation, talked about the impact of those decisions on New York State.

Audio and video recordings of the event are accessible below. A summary will be available soon.


Jason Lane

Higher Education and International Relations:
Role in Public Diplomacy?

March 6, 2012

This colloquium explored an emerging field of inquiry at the nexus of international relations and higher education studies. Over the past several decades, higher education has become an important actor in international relations as an increasing number of students, faculty, programs and institutions cross international borders. Nonetheless, education is scantly referenced in the field of international relations. This meeting was intended to build knowledge about higher education and, specifically, its role in international relations, economic development and public diplomacy around the world. Discussion focused on developing a scholarly agenda for the discovery, analysis and dissemination of research.

Agenda of the day's discussion.

Dan Whitman

Greg Kinser

Moderator: Jason Lane, Rockefeller Institute of Government

  • Mark Johnson, University of Wisconsin
  • Kathryn Friedman, University at Buffalo
    Slide presentation
  • Dan Whitman, (pictured,upper left) American University
  • Kevin Kinser, (pictured, left) University at Albany
Moderator: Brian Heuser, Vanderbilt University
Audio   Video

Audio   Video

  • Robert Gosende, University at Albany
  • Noel Lateef, Foreign Policy Association
  • Rick A. Ruth, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Identifying Main Agenda Items
Moderators: Jason Lane, Kevin Kinser, Ilgu Ozler
Audio   Video

Thomas S. Richards

Local Fiscal Challenges and New York’s Tax Cap

March 1, 2012

Local governments across New York State face intense fiscal pressures brought about by weakness in the economy, rising costs for employee benefits, the state’s new property tax cap and other factors. A number of mayors and county executives are warning that control boards or other extraordinary state intervention may be needed within the next year or two. Municipalities and school districts alike face conflicting voter demands that they limit taxes while preserving or expanding services. In this forum, experts from state and local governments, think tanks and advocacy organizations explored the nature and implications of these challenges, and offered varying perspectives on potential solutions. Speakers included The Honorable Thomas S. Richards (pictured), mayor of Rochester; Steven J. Hancox, New York State Deputy Comptroller for Local Government and School Accountability; James R. Follain, senior fellow at the Rockefeller Institute; Karen Scharff, director of Citizen Action of New York; Robert Lowry, deputy director, New York State Council of School Superintendents; E.J. McMahon, senior fellow at the Empire Center for New York State Policy; and James Rowley, Onondaga County Chief Financial Officer.


Hancox's slide presentation
Follain's slide presentation and paper
Scharff's slide presentation
Lowry's slide presentation
McMahon's slide presentation