Fresh off delivering 30-day budget amendments to the New York State Legislature, New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica joined host Alex Morse and Rockefeller Institute President Bob Megna for a conversation about this year’s budget, the delicate art of negotiations, and what it’s like to lead the Division of the Budget through the budget process.


Robert Mujica, Director, New York State Division of the Budget

Robert Megna, President, Rockefeller Institute of Government

  • Transcript

    Transcript was generated using AI software and may contain errors. 

    Alexander Morse 0:04

    Welcome to Policy Outsider. I’m Alex Morris. You are joining in on a special episode today as Bob Megna, current president of the Rockefeller Institute of Government and former New York State budget director will host and interview the current state budget director, Robert Mujica. Bob and Robert will discuss what they’ve learned over the course of their tenures heading the Division of the Budget, how the pandemic and social distancing policies affected budget dealings, and how state priorities can shift quickly based on the economic landscape. Before we begin, I want to make a quick clarification. Later on in the episode, we referenced the 30-day amendments to the budget being delivered today. The 30-day amendments were delivered to the legislature on February 17th, when we recorded this episode. And one last note, this interview was conducted via video conference, please bear with us as there may be the occasional technical glitch. Thank you.

    Alexander Morse 1:25

    So for today’s special episode, we are joined by the current New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica. And I’m also joined by the current president of the Rockefeller Institute of Government and former State Budget Director Bob Megna. Robert, Bob, thanks for hopping on today.

    Robert Megna 1:41

    Thank you. And you know, Robert is a special guest. You have to be there more than a year or more than I was there now.

    Robert Mujica 1:50

    About a year and just a year more. Bob has the record for the longest budget director.

    Robert Megna 1:55

    No, we have to go back to Rockefeller’s budget directors for that. Anyway, Robert, let’s jump in. I know how busy you are. But while we’re on it, how many years have you been at Budget now?

    Robert Mujica 2:07

    This is my seventh year. So it was seven years of executive budget. If I finish this budget, this will be the seventh budget. I think the average, Bob, is like two and a half year. So well beyond that.

    Robert Megna 2:20

    I figure it takes more than a year off your normal life existence. So you’ve been doing it a long time. How would you say it’s different from year one to year seven in how you approach it? What have you learned? Do you approach the job differently?

    Robert Mujica 2:40

    I would say yes, it’s different. From year one, you don’t really know what to expect. I was with the legislature for 20 years before I became budget director. So you have a good concept of the issues and of the finances. But when you, as you know, become budget director, it’s different. At the end of the day, you’re responsible for making sure that the financial plan is balanced going forward, making sure everything is implemented. But you also do have the breadth and knowledge of the DOB team that is there. And the resources of all of the agencies also behind you. So that whole team and the apparatus is there. And that’s really what kind of helps put it together, the more confidence you build in that group and capacity, the easier it is to move it along. But it’s never easy because the challenges were always different. It’s very unpredictable. If we could predict what the economy is going to do, none of us would be doing this. And those changes happen all the time. And then the people are different. There’s different governors. There’s different legislators. And they’re all a critical part of the process. But I would say that, by now, there is a certain cadence. And that’s just from a staffing level, that’s helpful, no matter who is there making the policy decisions. There’s a lot more confidence in being able to execute and deliver on the priorities of both the governor and the legislature because you need them to pass the budget.

    Robert Megna 4:20

    That’s really interesting, Robert. I think and that trust thing is probably a two way street to. It takes a while for the Budget Division staff to get used to how you do things too. So that it’s a kind of learning process on both sides. So once they figure you out a little bit then it’s easier that way too.

    Robert Mujica 4:50

    I guess that’s very true. I’m an unknown quantity. I don’t know the whole history, but oftentimes directors have some experience in the executive branch or within DOB itself, and coming from the legislature, which tends to view things very differently, I’m sure there was just a lot of concern as to what the priorities would be, how they would execute, how responsible we would be in maintaining the financial plan. I think the overall goal of the Division historically has been one to professionalize the budget process itself, going back to the first executive budget, and then also making sure that you’re able to keep that balance throughout. And I think as we’ve worked together, I’ve become very comfortable with the team. The team has shown enormous expertise in dealing with recessions, the pandemic, and all of these things that require an enormous amount of dedication far beyond what you would expect any person working for government or anywhere. And the crucible of that pressure, combined with getting to know each other. Luckily, we knew each other for three or four years before that happened. And I think there’s a trust there, which I think has to exist on both sides.

    Robert Megna 6:10

    Great point. Listen, again, I know how busy you are, let’s jump ahead. This is unusual even by any standard that I would be used to. This is an unusual budget year. I never saw any budgets in my experience that put out a budget that was imbalanced, not only in the current year but for the foreseeable future. Do you want to talk a little bit about how we got there? What you think about it?

    Robert Mujica 6:44

    Sure. And I think this was unexpected for everyone. We had outside consultants. We were consulting with outside economists. We were spending a lot of time just trying to understand the implications of the pandemic. The health implications and the reality of the implications on the economy, and thereby right on the revenues for the state. Last year, at this point, we were looking at cutting the entire budget by 20 percent. We had shut down the economy, people had not come back, and the order of magnitude was significant, more than even in previous recessions that we had to deal with. We were asking for federal money, which had not materialized yet. So, we presented an executive budget last year that had 20 percent reductions across the board in most areas. By March, we knew we would be getting federal money, which would help to bridge the revenue losses. And that’s about it. So we wouldn’t have to do the kind of draconian cuts that we were proposing at the time. Fast forward to this year, and I monitored this all year, the revenue figures kept coming. They kept increasing and they kept increasing and they kept coming back stronger than they were prepandemic. But it was also the economy overall, nationally, was recovering a lot faster than anybody had predicted at the time. There’s still uncertainty because you’re still dealing with variants. We also had a lot of things happen as the economy started getting better. You had the ebbs and flows of the virus, but you still had various variants. But we also had the vaccine. We also had people getting vaccinated, so we had a lot more of the population getting vaccinated. So they would be able to withstand a possible infection in large orders of magnitudes of people. So that kind of started to build confidence. Overall, the economy is then doing better. So while our revenues are going up, what we found is as unusual case, which you do not see in most recessions where revenues are going up but you still have double digit unemployment. And you start to drill down and see what is going on in the economy, where it looks like we’re in a growth period but unemployment is quadruple what it was prepandemic. And when you look at that, you start to see that there are people that are being left behind. There are the people that can work from home, people that can go remote, are still doing well. Still able to conduct businesses. We saw trends that were happening all along. Remote work was happening, online sales were happening, we initiated attacks on online sales. All of these things were happening, but there were long-term trends. What the pandemic did was accelerate what we saw as long-term trends and accelerated them into this pandemic period. So the next 10 years, where we would see in those areas, those trends happened all at once. So retail sales dropped, but they only dropped for retail stores. They were all going online. And even places where people were not comfortable buying things online, they became comfortable. Restaurants were doing poorly, but then they started selling through delivery. Many of them, were doing well. Selling takeout, selling alcohol. So, our challenge was how do we fit what’s going on in the economy and what’s going on in unemployment with these revenue figures. In any case, because our revenues or our taxing system in New York is so progressive with the top 20 percent paying over 80 percent of income taxes.

    Those people that work from home were still paying taxes. They’re still generating wealth. And that helps to produce the revenue that we need for a balanced financial plan. The federal money then will fall off. So that overlaid on top of the federal money. We know the federal money was going to disappear. So the financial plan for us was a challenge to make sure that we are using the resources that we’re getting, to make sure that those that are being left behind in the pandemic are getting a bridge to the new economy, getting a bridge to recovery, so that they can also participate in the growth. At the same time, using those funds for that purpose but not creating a place where you would invest in long-term spending items and then the federal money disappears. This level of growth cannot continue at this level. And we were put into a position where you’d have to do cuts or raise taxes, all of which are options, but they’re undesirable. And we’ve done them before. We’re at some of the highest tax levels in the country right now with regard to the personal income tax amongst the high earners. And we saw in the past where we over-invested, in the sense that it wasn’t keeping up with revenue growth. You have a mild recession and then you have to roll investments back. A case example is the funding for education and the Foundation Aid formula was fully funded and it was fully funded for only 18 months and then it had to be cut. And we weren’t able to restore it for a decade. So that’s what we’re trying to avoid. We’re trying to avoid making investments that you have to go back on. But making sure you’re making the right investments, we were keeping to a 2 percent spending benchmark for the previous decade. We doubled that in this budget, going to about 4 percent. And then we have a lot of one-time resources. The goal here is to put money in reserve. Because, as you know, if you take out the pandemic and look at it from a historical perspective and you look at just revenues, it would appear from a revenue perspective that the pandemic did not have much of an impact on overall revenues. You just see this dip and then quick recovery. So from a historical perspective, look back 50 years, it will not look like what we actually just went through because of that quick recovery. So the out-of-year gaps, our intention there is promoting and reserve, because we know if you take out the pandemic we were in, we were in the longest growth period, almost in the nation’s history going back to World War I. So if you had that longest growth period, the pandemic intervened but then you’re almost reverting back to where you were, there will be a downturn. But that is what we were concerned about. Our big concern is make the investments now and continue them but also don’t overdo it. Because that something will happen. We’ve seen it happen with 9/11. We’ve seen it happen with the Great Recession. We’ve seen it happen with multiple superstorms. And then the pandemic. So the plan here is invest so that the people that are left behind can join in the recovery, get jobs, get retrained. Invest in the healthcare system that obviously got brought to its knees by the pandemic. There will be others who want to invest in that system, we’re better prepared for that going forward. And then use the revenues to make the commitments that we want to make in education and those other areas. And keeping reserves so that if there is a bump in the road, we can we have the money to patch over those bumps.

    Robert Megna 14:23

    That’s great. I mean, I think you covered a lot of ground there. That’s the right way to think about it, I think. And you’re right, I think there’s no doubt, there’s going to be another down sometime. I think the one thing I’ve learned is and I think you summarized it, you don’t know what’s going to characterize the next down. We’ve lived through a terrorist attack. We’ve lived through superstorms. We’ve lived through regular Wall Street collapse recession. And then we’ve lived through COVID. So none of those things were predictable by any economic model or anything like that. You had to suffer through it and figure it out. So that was a great summary. So maybe, for our listeners and for folks who don’t really get the time to understand how the budget process works, can you talk a little bit about that? Kind of soup to nuts how do you begin the process? And where does it take you? And how do we finally get to the end product?

    Robert Mujica 15:41

    Our process starts the year before. We’re looking at what did we do the year before. And what spending items continue from the year before. It gives you our baseline. If you did nothing. What would growth look like. That’s the base. And that’s on the spending side. On the revenue side, same thing. Assuming you’re not raising taxes, if you did nothing. What does the revenue picture look like? And then those two together, decide how much additional revenue over spending you have or shortfall you have, and that is the baseline. That’s presented to the governor. It starts with the governor then establishing what are the priorities for the upcoming year. So you establish what the baseline is. Do you have a surplus? Do you have a shortfall for most years? Do you have a gap? A gap really is if you did nothing and allowed everything to grow with inflation, you would produce this shortfall. And then you would decide what things do you continue? What things do you reduce? Then obviously, what things you add to? And all of that is the conversation with the governor and the governor’s policy people. And then we start to craft, how do we achieve those policy objectives? How do we make the right investments to achieve? If there’s a desire to deal with infrastructure, we have a debt limit in New York State. So what are the right investments? How do we stay within the debt limit while making the right infrastructure investments in housing and transportation? If we have a housing crisis in the state, then what are the right levers that we can pull new programs, investments in current programs, also to achieve those goals? Same thing with education and so on. And then, we fit within the box. Unlike Washington, I don’t think they’ve produced a balanced budget in decades, if ever. And so, but they have the benefit of printing money, which helped us during the pandemic. Because they were deficit spending in order to help out states. So now progressional data, we just don’t have that luxury in New York. So we have to present a balanced plan, we have to enact a balanced plan, and we have to then pass a balanced plan. And then at the end of the year, we have to make sure it’s balanced because we can’t produce new revenues and we can’t close out with a deficit. So that is that process. Once we get the governor’s priorities, everyone in DOB then works with the agencies to figure out what their needs are, what their priorities are. We give them a benchmark. You can spend more than last year, not more than last year, or flat. And usually it’s flat so that the governor and the Chamber can establish what the priorities are in the individual agencies because obviously everyone has their own individual priorities. But we take the lead from the governor’s office and then we craft the budget that’s balanced. And then that’s the budget. The governor then aligns it with the State of the State. So by the time the State of the State is ready, we’ve produced this process that I described starts in the summer, continues into the fall, then it aligns with the State of the State priorities that the governor is making. And then the government submits the budget to the legislature in January, or in an election year sometimes in February, and then we engage with the legislature. And the legislative process is not insignificant. The budgets is the executive’s proposal but the legislature holds the purse strings and nothing can be spent in the state unless the legislature passes a bill authorizing spending. So between January and April 1 is the time we spend explaining the executives proposal to the legislature and then negotiating with the legislature. And the time from the period between January and when the budget is due, which is April 1, If we don’t get it done, we have to pass what’s called an emergency spending bills, but just authorizations so you don’t shut down government. We have the shortest period between the time of presentation of the budget in January to that April 1 deadline out of any large state in the country. So it’s a very compressed time period, about eight weeks. But that’s the overall process. And that process is very intense. It’s very intense in January and February. And as you know, Bob, there’s not a lot of daylight being seen in the in the month of March.

    Robert Megna 20:25

    Robert, I think you raised another point, people have been talking for the past 15 years or so about the strong executive budget process and how the court cases have more or less come down supporting a strong executive process. But you and I both worked in the legislature and I think you brought up an interesting point. The legislature has a lot of room within the process and they do hold the ultimate hammer of not passing a budget until they get a chance. Sometimes I think people forget that. Can you talk a little bit about that?

    Robert Mujica 21:07

    Yes, people often talk about the strong executive powers in the budget process. And the powers are strong but the powers require the engagement of the legislature. What the strength really is, is that what it doesn’t allow is for the legislature to move ahead on its own without the executive. Therein lies the bulk of the power, which is whoever came up with that process, the desire there was to keep the parties engaged with each other to come up with a result. Now, I was in the legislature for 20 years before I became budget director and engaged with multiple governors on many budgets during that time. And there are late budgets. There was a lot of times when the governor’s would like to have acted without the legislature at all, and I know from my seat over there, you made it very difficult for them to do that. You could have a late budget but it’s not desirable in the executive branch to get to that point. And the legislature doesn’t get what they want either. So I think what the process does is require the parties to get together and figure it out. And if there’s a willingness to do that, you will always be able to get there. If people want to dig in on their positions and not come to a negotiation, not come to a compromise, then you’re you will get stuck. But a state like New York, New York is Texas in some parts and San Francisco in some parts. And New York is everything in between. That requires a lot of legislators to come together and actually work together to achieve result. But there’s no part where the executive can dictate what has to happen. So I think that some of that is just people who would like to do it without the other party. And that is hard with this process.

    Robert Megna 23:12

    No, I have been thinking about it a lot lately since I have some time removed from it. So I can think more reflectively about it. But I like your term engagement, it forces engagement. I think that’s a good way to think about it. And given the short timeframe, I think that you also talk about it, that we have in New York forced engagement, is even more important because you could get to a late budget really quickly when the parties aren’t engaging with each other. But you also raise that it leads to more of a current question then. So given that, how do you see budget negotiations shaping up? How does that look?

    Robert Mujica 24:03

    So I think the governor’s framing of this budget and it was assisted by the position we are with the revenues and the federal dollars, but her overall framing of the budget strategically is one that allows for a quick resolution if everybody wants to. Funding was put in the key areas that there were usually our disagreements with the legislature on the levels of funding. Foundation Aid is fully funded in the second year on its way to the third year of fully funding it. You can spend a week and a half of delay just on what the education numbers that should be resolved this year early. And then we talk about a five year transportation plan, a five year housing plan, so a lot of the areas where the legislators would be very focused on and what would be the holdups is how much you’re going to spend in these areas, are funded well in this executive budget. Moreover, the governor has left $2 billion for pandemic relief that has not been allocated just to help those who have been left behind. $2 billion, because, you know Bob, sometimes for many years that’s double or triple the amount that the legislature would add to the budget at all. So the strategy behind how the budget was laid out and presented to the legislature is one that should allow for a process that we can get to a budget on time. Now, if not early, and sometimes early is hard just because of the process aspects, you have to have hearings, you have to have conference committees, and the legislators have their internal one house budgets that they do to show their positions. So procedurally, those things take time. But today is the day that the 30-day amendments are due to the legislature. So that is where we would make amendments or changes to the executive budget to the extent that there are some that are required either to fix things or just correct technical errors. Because in a budget of $216 billion and thousands and thousands of pages, there are bound to be some mistakes in there. So that’s kind of a cleanup bill or an opportunity to make some more substantive changes. And that’s the end of the executive part of the process, in terms of preparation. That deadline is today. We will be submitting those to the legislature and the conversations with them have been heretofore very, very positive.

    Robert Megna 26:33

    That’s great. I’m sure, Robert, we could continue to talk about budget and budget process forever. We may be two of the few people on the planet who would continue to be interested in that. Maybe that’s a setup for this next piece, how do we engage young people? How do we make them think that this is a career path that they might find interesting and rewarding? As I think both of us have. How do we engage the next generation? And what will be different, do you think, for the next generation coming into this kind of stuff?

    Robert Mujica 27:19

    Both in the fiscal side in the legislature, and the legislature has two fiscal committees, which is largely what the Division of Budget engages with, the secretary of the Finance Committee on the senate side and the Ways and Means Committee on the assembly side. And then Division of Budget is the executive counterpart. And that’s the engagement. There’s a lot of movement between the staffs of the Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance, and DOB. And I’ve seen in my career, I’ve seen it go always DOB to the fiscal committees, fiscal committees to DOB. So that’s the grouping. And the types of people that I’ve seen be successful in those jobs are ones that come in with a desire to be part of the process, recognizing that when you’re working in a legislature, the elected officials are the ones that are responsible to the people in a democracy, that they have to get elected. So they’re driving the policy decisions and in the houses and the legislature, and then the governor and the Division of Budget. But the opportunity to actually make changes, see things on a broad breadth of areas, is probably unmatched. And I say to people, even when they leave, “when you leave, you’ll go do something else, potentially. But you will always think this is one of the best jobs you have ever had because of what you were able to do.” I think its fun and I’ve been in Budget for a long time. But you’re able to engage in every issue that is affecting people’s lives from a government perspective. You’re touching them and money crosses almost all issues. And you’re influencing every agency. So you’re really touching on all of those things. It has been, at times, very intense in terms of hours because of the nature of it. And we in the Division have actually focused on trying to help with that, especially on work life balance, which has become more important in the last decade. I think you’re seeing a lot of young people, older people as well, see what the impact of that is. COVID and the pandemic has caused people to reassess. And we have, as well, in terms of how the kinds of things that we expect for people. I had to shut down the office for a year almost. People were working from home, negotiations from home. The pandemic happened in March, we were supposed to be closing on the budget at that time, we went to remote. And we did things in the office to make it easier for people to continue what they were doing from home. And it worked. And I think it worked for everyone. It worked for me. It worked for the governor and the executive. And it worked for people to be able to do the same level of engagement. I didn’t know if you could negotiate by Zoom, I didn’t know if we really could without that human interaction, and I still have a preference for it. I find we were able to also to do more. So we were able to get more information, be more nimble, be able to interact with each other, and get the same amount of productivity, if not more. So I think one of the things that people have thought in the past as well, it could be fun but I don’t want to be in Albany. Don’t want to work all of those hours. While it can still be some level of intensity but extraordinarily rewarding. And there’s the ability now to do things a little bit differently than the way they always were. So I think the same thing that we’re seeing in private sector companies, the government is reacting in a similar way and can make adjustments. And for people who want to come in to do it, we’re always looking for good people, smart people, and I think we have one of the best teams in New York, in the country, in this area. And I say that, not just because it’s coming from me, but because of I’ve seen what people have done and what they’ve accomplished even through the darkest times of what we went through. And as you point out, it wasn’t just this, they’ve done it before. When 9/11 happened, same thing. So we’ve seen it. And you can see in the pandemic is when people need government the most. Health care, we needed to get the vaccines out to people, we needed to get people vaccinated, we needed to make sure people were safe, we needed to get PPE to hospitals and nursing homes and everywhere. We produced hand sanitizer in the state because no one could produce it. So we did all of that. And a lot of that goes through the agencies and it goes through DOB. And everyone kind of put their hand forward. So really, I think people will step back and I said this before, it’s hard to really understand the order of magnitude of what people participate in and really accomplished right now because you’re still in it. You’re going look back and say, “you know, wow, I was part of that.” And I didn’t go into it wanting to be part of anything. It was a job. And it’s a fun thing to do. And like any other jobs, leaving when that time comes, come back and say, “no, what a great thing to be part of.” And I know that many of my colleagues will feel the same way. So I think it is a real opportunity for people to come in and be a part of something bigger, make your imprint, get stuff done, and really help people.

    Robert Megna 33:23

    Well, as someone who’s taken that journey, I absolutely would concur with that. And I think you do realize a little bit after you leave, how important the work was that you were doing despite all of the difficulties when you were in the process of actually doing it, which you can get too caught up in that piece. Any final thoughts, Robert? Stuff you think we missed that you’d want to talk about? One of the things I would say, one of the reasons we’re trying at Rockefeller to do these fiscally related kind of podcast series is to leave a record for people to hear some of the things and some of what is going through the minds of people who are in leadership positions in these places. And I don’t think young people often do get to hear from folks like you directly unless they’re dealing with you on a day-to-day basis within the Division. So thank you for doing it. Any final thoughts for us?

    Robert Mujica 34:44

    Yes, I would say that the process of negotiating a budget is an example of what we should be doing everywhere. In terms of negotiating, listening to people and listening to other people’s perspectives. And it’s something that has a role now in campus life, at home, or at the grocery store and everywhere. When we’re putting a budget together, I have to deal with people who are advocating for extreme, I say extreme not in a negative way, but the most radical, the most extreme, or at the most, I think this is the most important thing on this side. And the exact opposite on the other side. And we have to bring that all together, because we need in a real way, we need the majority of legislators to vote on that budget for it to pass. So that means we need the most conservative legislators and the most liberal legislators to cast the vote in the affirmative on a budget. So the challenge each year is bridging that gap so that there’s enough for both. And legislative conferences, when they get together to talk about these things, when I have to talk about it with legislators, my main role is not to bring my opinion to the table and get them to be convinced of my opinion. What I’m trying to do, I think everyone needs to try to do, is listen more. Try to understand their perspectives and what they’re trying to achieve on all sides and then try to solve for that and then try to bridge that. That is the art of the budgeting is trying to bring all of those perspectives together. And again, New York has the extremes. It’s one of the most densely populated states in the world. Also one of the most rural areas in the world in parts of the states. And everything in between. You have every extreme where it can be reflected in the borders of New York State. So what’s critically important, I think what success is, and I know when I worked across the table from you, Bob, you did it. And you were very good at it, which was trying to listen to the perspectives that people were bringing to you then going back and trying to solve for that. And that is layers through society generally. We’ve become so polarized. And if we were to do that here, we would never get anything done. We have to bridge the gap, we have to reach compromise. And we have to get it in a way where we actually can publicly say, “you know, this is, okay.” So I think that is what budgeting actually is in a state like New York that’s so diverse. And what I would leave with is that people should just listen to each other, try to understand the other perspectives. Push your agenda, push your views but while keeping an open ear to understand where other people are coming from. If we weren’t able to do that, we wouldn’t be able to get anything done.

    Robert Megna 37:55

    Robert, I couldn’t agree more. And I think I think people that have worked in Budget for a long time are probably the least polarized of us now. And polarization is a problem. I think both of us are a little unique in another way, too. We’ve both worked for both parties or leadership in both parties. And I don’t think when we were doing our jobs right, our bosses ever considered what our real politics were on any issue because we were trying to solve problems not necessarily follow the ideology. And of course, you follow the policy directions of the governor because that’s the job. But you also are trying to solve problems. So, listen, thank you for doing this. And I know you’re busy. So I again, anytime we can get you to do something like this, we appreciate it. So thanks for coming.

    Robert Mujica 39:04

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Bob. And thank you for having me on. And one day I’ll come in, meet your students when everyone’s meeting again in person.

    Robert Megna 39:14

    Oh, I’d love to have you come to that. Thank you.

    Alexander Morse 39:18

    That was a special episode featuring two people with lots of experience crafting and negotiating state budgets. Big thanks to Robert Mujica and Bob Megna for joining the podcast to talk about the art of making a budget. If you liked this episode, please rate, subscribe, and share. It will help others find the podcast and help us deliver the latest in public policy research. All of our episodes are available for free wherever you stream your podcasts. Special thanks to the Rockefeller Institute staff, Joel Tirado, Heather Trela, and Laura Schultz for their contributions to this episode. Thanks for listening. I’m Alex Morris. Until next time.

    Alexander Morse 41:14

    Policy Outsider is presented by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. The Institute conducts cutting edge nonpartisan public policy research and analysis to inform lasting solutions to the challenges facing New York State and the nation. Learn more at or by following RockefellerInst on social media. Have a question or comment or idea? Email us at mailto:[email protected].

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