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Rig Blog

Using Data to Combat the Opioid Crisis


By Jim Malatras and Urska Klancnik
November 2017

The latest figures from the New York State Department of Health give an up-to-date view of the opioid crisis in New York State. In order to give the public and policymakers better data with which to understand and combat the epidemic, the Rockefeller Institute will continue to update its interactive map with quarterly reports.




Killing the Golden Goose? As House Republicans Roll Out Tax Reform, Regional Divides in New York Emerge Over SALT


Jim Malatras
November 2017

New York State House Republicans are diverging over a proposal to cap and eliminate the state and local tax deduction (SALT) included in the GOP tax reform plan announced November 2. The measure is dividing downstate Republicans, whose wealthier districts would likely see tax increases, from their upstate counterparts whose districts are less likely to feel the sting.




Ballot Watch: Getting Out the Vote for… Coroners?


Erika Martin, Christine Bozlak, and Young Joo Park
October 2017

Compared to higher profile races on a ballot — president, governor, mayor — relatively few people pay attention to their choice of coroner. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute researchers explain why New Yorkers elect their coroners and medical examiners, the role they play in our lives, and how to evaluate candidates.




As Opioid Deaths Rise, a National Public Health Emergency to be Declared: So Now What?


By Jim Malatras
October 2017

With President Donald Trump on the cusp of declaring the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency,” Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras reviews the data for New York and introduces a new, interactive tool for tracking the crisis in the state. Stay tuned to the Rockefeller Institute for further analysis of New York’s opioid epidemic as well as the quality of available health data.




Beyond the Partisan Divide: Obamacare Financial Transparency Measures Can Have Broader Appeal


By Young Joo Park, Ethan Saville, and Erika Martin
October 2017

In a new Rockefeller Institute blog post, Young Joo Park, Ethan Saville, and Erika Martin suggest Democrats and Republicans may find common ground on the Affordable Care Act’s lesser-known requirement that nonprofit hospitals report community benefit expenditures. Their analysis shows the provision has effectively increased transparency as well as spending on critical community benefit programs.



A Burden Too Great to Bear: Addressing the Mounting Student Loan Debt Crisis


By Heather Trela, Urska Klančnik, and Jim Malatras
October 2017

With U.S. student loan debt increasing at a rate of $2,671 per second, according to one measure, more and more states are stepping up to address the mounting crisis and protect borrowers. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute researchers Heather Trela, Urska Klancnik, and Jim Malatras review various policies enacted or proposed in 14 states to address the problem.



Trump Shows His Cards: What Ending CSR Payments Means for the Future of Healthcare in New York


By Jim DeWan
October 2017

Jim DeWan wrote in April and August that President Donald Trump’s action on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies would “show his hand” regarding his approach to the health care law. Now that Trump has ended the payments, DeWan writes about what that could mean for New Yorkers and the nation.



Who Subsidizes Whom? The State and Local Tax Deduction Compared with State Balances of Payments


By Donald J. Boyd and Lucy Dadayan
October 2017

The proposed Republican “Unified Framework” tax reform would eliminate state and local taxes (SALT) deductions, which allows taxpayers to avoid being taxed by the federal government on income used to pay taxes to the states and localities. In a new blog post, Donald J. Boyd and Lucy Dadayan examine the winners and losers under the proposed tax plan. States that pay more to the federal government than they receive in federal funding face greater tax increases/impact with the elimination of the SALT deduction, while the states that get more get another tax benefit.



What does it mean to be an American? Lessons from Puerto Rico


By Patricia Strach
September 2017

Puerto Rico is struggling to recover from the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria, but the uncertainty caused by a natural disaster is compounded by confusion about what the territory’s connection is to the United States. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute Deputy Director for Research Patricia Strach examines the political relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.



A Constitutional Agenda for the Protection and Expansion of the Rights and Liberties of the People of New York


By Richard Brodsky
September 2017

This November, voters in New York State will have the chance to decide whether to convene a constitutional convention (ConCon). While much of the debate against a potential ConCon has focused on the possibility of rights being constricted, proponents of a convention see it as a vehicle that could expand rights and add a layer of protection from the federal government. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute Board Member Richard Brodsky outlines some of the changes and additions that could be made during a constitutional convention to safeguard and expand rights and liberties in New York.


The Coming Federal and State Power Showdown — House Blocks Amendment to Protect Medical Marijuana in the States


By Heather Trela
September 2017

Since 2014, the Department of Justice has been prohibited from using federal funds to interfere with the implementation of state laws that legalize the use of medical marijuana. Recent action by the House of Representatives, however, has put that protection in jeopardy. In a new blog post, Chief of Staff Heather Trela examines the impact of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment being blocked and the potential federalism showdown as the federal government gears up for stricter enforcement while states continue to expand the legalization of marijuana.


When Misinformation Spirals Out of Control: The Case of a “Rigged” Constitutional Convention Process in New York State


By Heather Trela
August 2017

As the vote to decide whether to convene a constitutional convention in New York State approaches, more information about the process for, and impact of, a potential convention is circulating. Unfortunately, not all the information that is being shared is true or accurate. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute Chief of Staff Heather Trela examines the claim, widely spread on Facebook, that the ballot has been rigged in favor of convening a constitutional convention. This is the latest in a series of posts by the Institute on topics related to a potential constitutional convention.


Ending Obamacare by Forcing a Resolution Through Administrative Sabotage?


By Jim Dewan
August 2017

With efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on hold for now, the Trump administration has sent mixed signals over whether they will continue to authorize the payment of Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies, which reduce deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for approximately seven million lower-income enrollees. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute Visiting Fellow Jim Dewan discusses the significant impact that halting these payments would cause for the ACA individual marketplaces, insurance premiums, and on the national deficit. This piece is the third in a series about the future of the ACA under the Trump administration.


Transforming Open Government Data Into All-Star Data


By Erika Martin and Grace Begany
August 2017

More and more governments are making their data available to the public and practitioners through open data platforms. As the amount of information increases, so does the need for quality control in these platforms. A new blog post from Erika Martin and Grace Begany explores criteria for effective open data platforms and applies them to three existing platforms to see how they compare.




When Rhetoric Attempts to Trump Reality: Why A Constitutional Convention Would Not Take Away Public Employee Rights


By Peter J. Galie and Christopher Bopst
August 2017

One of the arguments frequently levied against a constitutional convention in New York State is that a convention could endanger public-sector pensions and the right to organize and bargain collectively. In a new blog post, guest writers Peter Galie and Christopher Bopst examine what rights the state constitution affords public employees and why they believe a constitutional convention is more likely to enhance public employee rights than diminish them.



Winning the Battle, Losing the War: How Sales Tax Renewal Thwarts Constitutional Home Rule


By Gerald Benjamin
August 2017

Article IX of the New York State constitution contains “home rule” provisions to provide local governments with powers and protections from the state legislature. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute Board Member Gerald Benjamin uses the recent case of sales tax renewal in Ulster County to demonstrate that home rule protections are not always as strong as they appear to be.



Amending New York’s Constitution, In Between Conventions


People to Vote on Changes to the Constitution’s “Forever Wild” Clause This Fall
By Jessica Ottney Mahar
August 2017

While New York State voters will have the chance this November to decide whether a state constitutional convention should be convened, also on the ballot will be a measure to amend the “Forever Wild” clause of the state constitution. A new blog post by guest writer Jessica Ottney Mahar examines the alternative process for constitutional change in New York State that does not require a constitutional convention.



(Not) Made in America


President Trump Diverges From Businessman Trump on Trade
By Jim Malatras
July 2017

This week, the White House kicked off its “Made in America” campaign to highlight products manufactured in the United States. Candidate Trump rode a wave of working and middle-class economic anxiety into the White House, and anger towards free trade deals played a major role. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras examines the dramatic differences in the behavior of President Trump vs. businessman Trump on free trade and how the complexities of a more interconnected global marketplace are thwarting President Trump’s agenda.






A $300 Million Error: When a Mistake Became an Alternative Fact to Oppose a Constitutional Convention


By Peter J. Galie and Christopher Bopst
July 2017

On the ballot this November, New York State voters have the opportunity to decide whether a state constitutional convention should be convened. A frequent argument against holding a convention is that it would cost too much. In a new blog post, Peter Galie and Christopher Bopst examine a popular misconception about the actual price tag of holding a convention.



“The Risks Outweigh the Rewards”: Who Are the Opponents of a Constitutional Convention and What Are Their Arguments?


By David Siracuse
July 2017

This November, New Yorkers will have a chance to vote for or against a state constitutional convention on the ballot. A diverse collection of nearly 100 organizations have come out against a constitutional convention. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute Special Assistant David Siracuse explores this oppositional coalition and their arguments for not supporting a constitutional convention.



Don’t Eliminate Innovative Obamacare Solutions to Improve Care and Control Costs in the Push for Reform


By Youngjoo Park and Erika Martin
June 2017

The debate over repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has mainly focused on high-profile provisions like Medicaid expansions and pre-existing conditions coverage. Less well-known are some of the demonstration projects supported by the ACA that improve costs, access, and quality. In a new blog post, Youngjoo Park and Erika Martin examine the Financial Alignment Initiative, which aims to improve coordination for people enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid, and discuss why programs like it should not get lost in the shuffle of the health care reform deliberation.



As Heroin Overdoses and Deaths Rise, Is More Legislative Action on the Horizon in New York?


By Jim Malatras
June 2017

With the 2017 New York State legislative session coming to a close, the executive and legislative branches are reportedly working to finalize another legislative package to address the ongoing opioid epidemic. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras examines trends in New York State Department of Health data on heroin use to illustrate why additional changes to law as well as evaluation of existing programs are priorities.



Not the “Same Old Same Old Politics as Usual”: Why Insiders Won’t Dominate a Constitutional Convention


By Peter J. Galie and Christopher Bopst
June 2017

Every 20 years, voters in New York State are provided the opportunity to decide whether a state constitutional convention should be convened. This November, the chance to call a constitutional convention will once again appear on the ballot. In a new blog post, Peter Galie and Christopher Bopst address some of the arguments critics have made against holding a constitutional convention.



Forget Paris? With the Federal Government Withdrawing From the International Climate Change Initiative, U.S. Higher Education Could Lead the Way


By Jim Malatras
June 2017

President Trump recently announced that the United States will withdraw from the multination Paris Climate Agreement. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras posits that while states and cities have demonstrated a willingness to work together on climate change, there is also an opportunity for higher education institutions to play a leadership role.



Until Death Dues Us Part?


By Jim DeWan
June 2017

In the fall term, the U.S. Supreme Court may consider the case of Janus v. AFSCME, which challenges state laws that permit public employee unions to automatically withhold fees or dues from employees, regardless of union membership. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute Visiting Fellow Jim DeWan examines the potential impact overturning this precedent would have on organized labor generally and in New York specifically.





A Ripple Effect or a Tsunami? How the Trump Administration's Signals Are Driving Increased Costs in the ACA Markets


By Jim Malatras
May 2017

The Trump administration’s signaling that they are likely to eliminate the Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is already beginning to drive increased health insurance rates in ACA markets. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras examines the impact in North Carolina, where Blue Cross and Blue Shield has recently announced health insurance rates would increase more than 20 percent. This is the latest in a series of posts by the Institute on health care reform in the United States.



Why New York Needs a Constitutional Convention


By Peter J. Galie and Christopher Bopst
May 2017

Every 20 years, voters in New York State are provided the opportunity to decide whether a state constitutional convention should be convened. This November, the chance to call a constitutional convention will once again appear on the ballot. In a new blog post, Peter Galie and Christopher Bopst outline why they support a constitutional convention and believe it is the only way to achieve solutions to the state’s systemic problems.




The OPEN Government Data Act: What’s at Stake?


By Grace Begany and Erika Martin
May 2017

Among the many issues to be considered by Congress is the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act, which would make data from federal agencies freely and publicly available. In a new blog post, Grace Begany and Erika Martin examine previous efforts to improve government transparency under the Obama administration, as well as why open data initiatives benefit both external users and the government itself.




When Numbers Can’t "Lie"


By Jim Malatras
May 2017

The U.S. House of Representatives voted today on a revised version of the American Health Care Act without the benefit of analysis by the independent Congressional Budget Office. Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras discusses the necessary role of objective analysis in policymaking.




State and Local Governments Face Six Significant Issues with the Trump Tax Cut Outline


By Donald Boyd, Lucy Dadayan, Tom Gais, and Jim Malatras
April 2017

The Trump administration recently unveiled its outline for tax reform. While more in-depth analysis is needed, Rockefeller Institute staff outline in a new blog post six issues with the new tax outline that will impact state and local governments.




New York IS a Referendum State — In Local Government


By Gerald Benjamin
April 2017

While New York does not employ the initiative or referendum process on the state level, it is used frequently in matters of local government. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute board member Gerald Benjamin examines the use of referendum on the local level in New York. He also assesses popular attitudes towards alternative governance approaches by examining the outcome of recent town votes on terms of office.




To Actively Dismantle the ACA or Not? The Trump Administration Will Soon Have to Show Its Cards


By Jim DeWan
April 2017

After the failure to pass the Affordable Health Care Act, the future course of health care reform in the U.S. has been unclear. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute Visiting Fellow Jim DeWan argues that the pending federal budget deadline will provide clues as to how the Trump administration will manage the continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), depending on whether it eliminates or embraces Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies. This piece is the second in a series about the future of the ACA under the Trump administration.




What Next? — The Political Conundrum of Health Reform


By Richard P. Nathan
April 2017

After Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives pulled the American Health Care Act prior to the vote, the question remains: What is next for efforts to reform health care? In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute Senior Fellow Richard Nathan examines both the political landscape and the substantive policy issues that are in play for any future attempts at reform.




When State and Federal Laws Clash: The Possible Showdown Over Marijuana Laws


By Heather Trela
April 2017

While the states have moved toward expanding the legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana, the drug is still illegal under federal law. Rockefeller Institute Chief of Staff Heather Trela examines this potential federalism showdown over marijuana policy that could come to a head under the Trump administration.




Do We Need to Raise Awareness About Sexual Assault?


By Patricia Strach
April 2017

President Trump has proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In a new blog post, Rockefeller Institute Deputy Director for Research Patricia Strach questions if the use of awareness campaigns are a useful strategy for solving an intractable problem like sexual assault.





How Separate Will the Powers Be?


By Julie Novkov
April 2017

University at Albany Professor Julie Novkov explains what's at stake in the Gorsuch nomination: both the implications for the Supreme Court's ideology and the hot-button issues the Court takes up, as well as the potential for undermining or upholding the separation of powers.




Are the Stars Aligned to Defeat the Confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court?


By Jim Malatras
April 2017

Given the upcoming Senate vote on the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras examines the factors that have contributed to the failure of previous Supreme Court nominations in a new blog post. Political ideology, timing of the nomination, and presidential (mis)management have been cited in recent nominations that have been rejected or withdrawn.




Collaborative State Models Could Fill the Federal Climate Change Void


By Jim Malatras
April 2017

Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras addresses the potential role for the states in regulating climate change efforts as federal regulations are rolled back by the Trump administration. He suggests that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) could serve as a model for states in regulating environmental concerns. The RGGI bipartisan collaborative has been successful in lowering CO2 emissions in member states.




The Excelsior Scholarship: Expanding College Access and Improving Success


By Jim Malatras
March 2017

Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras responds to some of the issues raised by Senior Fellow D. Bruce Johnstone in his post about the governor’s proposed Excelsior Scholarship Program. As one of the chief architects of the program, Malatras provides insight on concerns about tuition, the full-time credit requirement, the impact on private independent schools, and the projected cost estimate. He believes that the Excelsior Scholarship may help students stay in school and open the door for more people to consider going to college.



Tuition-Free SUNY and CUNY: Who Benefits, Who Doesn’t, and How Free Is It After All?


By D. Bruce Johnstone
March 2017

Former SUNY Chancellor, and Rockefeller Institute Senior Fellow, D. Bruce Johnstone assesses the governor's proposed Excelsior Scholarship Program. Johnstone supports the proposal's goals but writes that it would offer little aid to students with the greatest financial need, that its benefits would go to a relatively small number of students, and that it might hurt the state's independent colleges and universities. He calls for more study and alternative solutions to the problem of access.



Climate Change: Avoiding the ‘Natural Variations’ Pitfall


By Mark Marchand
December 2016
Mark Marchand

Writer and Rockefeller Institute Alum Mark Marchand considers the ongoing debate on climate change presented in a recent Rockefeller Institute/University at Albany Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences forum on severe weather. The event, held November 10th, was the third in an annual series.




Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina Reconsidered 10 Years Later


By Marc Landy
August 2015
Marc Landy
From 2006 through 2008, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government partnered with the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana to conduct a regional analysis of the recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The Institute and the Council assembled a network of field researchers from throughout the region to examine how local and state governments, as well as the nonprofit sector, were dealing with the many challenges of recovery. In addition, the Institute drew on the reports and other research to examine the role of the federal system in the recovery. At the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Rockefeller Institute researcher Marc Landy revisits a proposal developed by him and a co-researcher, former Institute Director Richard Nathan, for the establishment of a federal officer in charge to coordinate federal response to major disasters.


Cyber Security Crosses Sectors and Levels of Government: Learning from Recent Federal Efforts


By Brian Nussbaum
December 2014
Brian Nussbaum
In this Observation piece, Rockefeller College Assistant Professor Brian Nussbaum looks at how the U.S. government has recently detailed roles and responsibilities for cybersecurity involving the efforts of government players at the federal level (including the military, law enforcement, and other security agencies). It argues a comparable framework for state and local governments, as well as corporations and not-for-profits, would be valuable. Through utilization of various capabilities, often across levels of government and across sectors, the piece argues that we can take advantage of the best of the capabilities of involved actors at the same time we realize the enhanced benefit that results from “cross-sector coordination.”



Solar Power Offers Greater Resilience in Severe Weather


By Richard Perez, Jeffrey Freedman, and James W. Fossett
October 2014

Researchers from the University at Albany Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, and Rockefeller Institute researchers explore the advantages of solar power as a means of mitigating long-term power outages resulting from more prevalent severe weather occurrences. This proposed solution, the authors suggest, may be particularly vital in the Northeast, a region identified by climate researchers as a “hot spot” for an increase in severe weather events.


Let’s Stop Improvising Disaster Recovery


By James W. Fossett
July 2013
James Fossett

In this insightful observation piece, Rockefeller Institute Senior Fellow Dr. James Fossett indicates that improved disaster recovery from major natural and man-made disasters is possible through strategic planning, careful coordination between various levels of government, and the development of easily accessible response mechanisms.




New Roles for U.S. Universities in Latin America


By Jason E. Lane
March 2013
Jason E. Lane

Director of Education Studies Jason E. Lane examines the growing role that the United States is playing in the development of higher education in Latin America in a chapter of a new book from the Institute of International Education, Latin America’s New Knowledge Economy: Higher Education, Government, and International Collaboration.




Proposed Changes Will Improve Reimbursement for HIV Testing


By Erika Martin
February 2013
Erika Martin

Proposed changes by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force in HIV testing guidelines will remove financial barriers to receiving HIV tests, according to Institute Fellow Erika G. Martin and Bruce R. Schackman, Weill Cornell Medical College.




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