State and Local Policy Publications

Below is a list of our reports related to state and local publications, in descending order by year published. Explore other topics here and all High Road Strategy Center reports here.

  • Rogers, J. How About Productive Democracy for a Change. no. 1, Social Policy, 2020, pp. 19-25.
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  • Dresser, L. The State of Working Wisconsin 2020. COWS, 2020.

    For the State of Working Wisconsin 2020, COWS created a digital presence to tell the story of workers in the state during COVID-19. This exciting new report shines a spotlight on the brutal Black-white disparities that define this state and provides worker profiles to crystallize the human costs of this crisis. For more than two decades, COWS’ State of Working Wisconsin has presented the workers’ perspective on the economy in the state: what’s going on with work and jobs, who is winning in this economy, and who is being left out; where is disparity growing; what’s happening to the economic chasm separating Black and white workers in the state. The SOWW 2020 website can be seen here.

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  • Braunginn, M., C. Jenkins, and M. Young-Jones. Setting the Agenda: A Mayor’s Guide to Water Affordability. Mayors Innovation Project, 2019.

    Aging water infrastructure systems, climate change, and the general rising cost of urban living mean that access to clean and affordable water is becoming a greater challenge. Cities and water utilities are increasingly faced with a major financial dilemma: increase rates to update infrastructure and price out ratepayers, or keep rates static at the expense of aging and failing infrastructure. At the fulcrum of this choice sits those most vulnerable to increases in rates: low-to-moderate income households, which are disproportionately made up of women and/or people of color.

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  • Jenkins, C., and M. Young-Jones. Actionable Solutions for Public Water Systems. Mayors Innovation Project, 2019.

    From climate change to outdated infrastructure to lack of federal support, city leaders face more pressure than ever to provide affordable and safe water to residents. Mayors and city leaders need the resources to plan for and improve and maintain public water systems. This report outlines concrete actions a city can take to keep control of its water systems and provides a background to understanding the complexity of public water systems and their current challenges. The solutions for managing robust public systems include topics such as: integrating management approaches for water with other goals; engaging the public in conversations about this valuable resource; promoting affordability of water services; among many more.

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  • Braunginn, M., E. DePalma, H. Neukrug, S. Rhodes-Conway, and M. Young-Jones. Basic Water Utility Management. Mayors Innovation Project, 2019.

    Access to safe and affordable drinking water is a human right, and it is the duty of the water utility to ensure that this right is protected and upheld. Understanding the different ways water intersects with your city is critical. Basic Water Utility Management provides local leaders with a foundation for understanding their local water systems, including: understanding what a successful water system looks like; getting up to speed on government compliance; identifying infrastructure and maintenance needs; and engaging with community members around water resources.

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  • Braunginn, M., E. DePalma, H. Neukrug, S. Rhodes-Conway, and M. Young-Jones. Paying for Water Systems. Mayors Innovation Project, 2019.

    Even as the scale of needed investment grows, utilities can develop rate structures, impact fees, and new products or services that generate needed revenue fairly. This report is a primer on getting started with financing water systems, including: assessing where the largest costs are incurred and where borrowing is most extensive; understanding your city’s specific water utility structure and financial status; building a relationship with your water utility manager/CEO(s); and reaching out to and growing relationships with community leaders across a range of neighborhoods and interests, and asking questions about needs and water affordability.

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  • Braunginn, M., J. Irwin, and S. Rhodes-Conway. Reducing Carbon Risk & Investing in Local Economic Strength. Mayors Innovation Project, 2019.

    Climate change poses a risk to communities and their investments. There is a growing toolbox of measures cities can take to combat climate change. One of these tools, divestment from fossil fuels, is ethical, viable, and a moral imperative. Successful divest/invest strategies are a matter of political will. Steps a city can take: determine if they have funds that should be divested; reinvest the capital moved from fossil fuel stocks to a Green Bank or Revolving Loan Fund; identify what opportunities there are to attract “fossil free” investments to sustainable projects via green bonds or other mechanisms; ensure that any jobs created through this process are quality jobs.

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  • In the 20th Century, people from around the world came to Wisconsin and the Midwest, seeking opportunity in the industrial boom. Manufacturing and unions helped create good jobs for many black workers, but discrimination and segregation limited that sharply. When industrial jobs declined, black Midwesterners suffered the most. Over the last 40 years, opportunity and outcomes for black residents in Wisconsin have fallen below national averages. As a result, black Wisconsinites face stubborn barriers and road blocks that many white people don’t even know are there. Racial disparity in Wisconsin is not inevitable, but closing the gap will require a broad focus and multifaceted approach.

    ‘Wisconsin’s Extreme Racial Disparity’ provides a Wisconsin-focused summary to ‘Race in the Heartland‘, which shows the persistence of racial disparities in the Midwest and what can be done about them.

    Wisconsin has the regrettable distinction of ranking among the worst states in the nation for racial inequality. Disparities among black and white residents of our state – spanning poverty, unemployment, educational attainment, and incarceration – have been documented consistently for more than a decade. Although activists and policymakers have increasingly focused on addressing these issues, they remain pressing.

    ‘Race in the Heartland’ and ‘Wisconsin’s Extreme Racial Disparity’ provide a careful historical context and a broadly informed policy framework that are critical to winning greater racial equity throughout this region.

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  • Dresser, L., and J. Rogers. The State of Working Wisconsin 2019: Facts & Figures. COWS, 2019.

    Each year on Labor Day, COWS draws a picture of how working people in Wisconsin are faring. The long report, The State of Working Wisconsin, is released biannually on even-numbered years and looks at the economy comprehensively from a working-family perspective. In odd-numbered years, like 2019, we provide a more abbreviated and focused report, called The State of Working Wisconsin: Facts & Figures.

    On some of the most well-known economic indicators, there is good news for Wisconsin workers. The unemployment rate in the state has been consistently low. The economy is steadily adding jobs. These are important measures for working people’s lives. When jobs are more available not only is it easier to secure a job, it is also easier to get the hours of work you want, to be able to ask for time-off you need, and to make ends meet. This Labor Day, with the memory of the Great Recession of 2007 now fading from memory, workers across Wisconsin have this good news to celebrate.

    Even so, many working families in the state feel stressed and stretched. In this report, then, we provide information on few key long-term trends that are contributing to the stress even in the context of low unemployment. Looking across the last forty years, the challenges working people face are clear. Wage growth has been anemic. Income inequality is reaching new highs. Unions, which have been so critical to supporting workers in this state, are in serious decline. Additionally, state policy, which could be helping to close gaps, is actually exacerbating these trends. From tax changes that reward our highest income families to rejection of health insurance to cover our families in need, policy continues to pave the low-road for our state.

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  • This guide examines the case for addressing climate risk in investments, examine potential solutions and ways to implement them, and explore how reinvestments can create good jobs. This is specifically aimed at local governments, though the strategies and approaches have been proven effective in other sectors.

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