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.

  • 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.

    Document
  • Securing strong economic opportunity for Wisconsin’s working families and closing racial and ethnic income disparity requires strong attention to the access and success of students of color at our state’s colleges and universities.

    In this report COWS focuses on college degrees – both the two year associates degrees offered by the 16 colleges of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and four year bachelor’s degrees offered by colleges throughout the University of Wisconsin System (UWS).

    Document
  • Dresser, L., J. Rogers, E. Ubert, and A. Walther. State of Working Wisconsin 2018. COWS, 2018.

    Despite job gains, Wisconsin’s job growth is slow relative to the national pace. Wages are still in no way keeping pace with worker productivity. Wisconsin is comparatively weak in more lucrative occupations: professional, scientific, technical, and information. Our manufacturing sector, while growing, is a still significantly smaller than at the beginning of the century. And inequality continues to grow. One in five workers currently holds a poverty-wage job with few benefits. Rural economies are declining. Wisconsin’s black/white disparities still lead the nation.

    Document
  • Dresser, L., S. Thomason, L. Austin, A. Bernhardt, K. Jacobs, and M. Whitebook. At the Wage Floor: Covering Homecare and Early Care and Education Workers in the New Generation of Minimum Wage Laws. COWS, 2018.

    In November 2012, fast-food workers in New York went on strike and the Fight for $15 was born. Over the last five years, the movement has lifted wages for more than 17 million workers across the nation by fighting for and winning numerous minimum wage policies (National Employment Law Project 2016). Substantial minimum wage increases are underway in California, New York, Oregon, and more than 30 cities and counties around the country. In states and cities covered by them, these new minimum wages will increase earnings for 25 to 40 percent of workers (Reich, Allegretto, and Montialoux 2017; Reich et al. 2016). After four decades of wage stagnation and rising inequality, the movement has delivered real, much needed, and meaningful progress in a remarkably short period of time.

    Fast food has been iconic in the discussions of the minimum wage, from the influential mid-1990s research that found no negative employment impact of wage increases in the industry, to the fast-food workers who have walked out on strike in cities across the country in recent years (Card and Kruger 1995). But of course the reach of these wage increases extends well beyond fast food to underpaid workers in multiple industries. The dynamics of minimum wage increases vary across industries based on each industry’s specific structure.

    Nowhere are the distinct dynamics more pronounced and challenging than for those employed in human services industries. This paper focuses on an important subset of these workers: those who provide homecare and early care and education services to the very young, people with disabilities, and those who are frail due to age or illness. We explain the pressing need to raise these workers’ wages and the unique structure of their industries that results in a funding squeeze for wage increases—at the root of this is the fact that most families are unable to afford all of the homecare and child care they need, never mind pay enough to ensure that workers earn a living wage, and public human services are chronically underfunded.

    These workers provide a critical (but too often unrecognized) public good; as such, we argue that a significant public investment is a necessary part of the solution, both to deliver minimum wage increases to these workers and to cover the significant unmet need for care. We provide background about the shared and divergent challenges in the homecare and early care and education industries, as well as review emerging policy initiatives to fund wage increases for homecare and early care and education workers and identify principles for public policy going forward.

    Document
  • The UniverCity Alliance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is looking for a new local government partner for the UniverCity Year program for the period of 2018-2021. Could this be your community?

    Document
  • Improving Health Outcomes for All Through Local Policy Making”. The Municipality – Your Voice. Your Wisconsin, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, 2018.

    First featured in the March 2018 Community Health issue of The Municipality – Your Voice. Your Wisconsin. Published by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

    Document
  • Kalor, Y., M. Meder, S. Rhodes-Conway, and M. Young-Jones. Building Immigrant-Friendly Cities: A Guide for City Leaders. Mayors Innovation Project, 2018.

    As the federal government takes an increasingly hostile stance on immigration over the last 30 years, immigrant communities have become more vulnerable than ever. With the absence of a comprehensive national policy, cities must develop policies and programs to address the influx of immigrants. Municipalities across the U.S. have to address on a daily basis a myriad of issues related to immigrants, who are overwhelmingly concentrated in metropolitan areas. This report aims to help elected officials, policy-makers, activists, and community-based organizations advocate for, design, and implement progressive policies toward immigrants at the city level.

    Document
  • Sundquist, E., M. Ebeling, R. Webber, C. McCahill, and S. Rhodes-Conway. Modernizing Mitigation: A Demand-Centered Approach to Reducing Car Travel. COWS, 2018.

    Traditional Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies are increasingly used by large employers and building owners to encourage the use of alternatives to driving – things like providing bus passes, bike share, and affordable carpooling. But most existing best practices overlook the role of local government decision makers, whose decisions on policy affecting local transportation options, planning and regulation of land use, structure and enforcement of fees, taxes and other financial signals can play a big role in increasing or decreasing vehicle demand.

    Document
  • Criminalizing hard working families and falling into irrational fear harms all Wisconsin families and the Wisconsin economy. Immigrants are a core part of the Wisconsin economy and contributing to this state through taxes, education, and self-owned businesses. The state should be pursuing ways to welcome and build the skills of this community.

    Document
  • Dresser, L. “Human Capital in Context: Policies That Shape Urban Labor Markets”. Jobs and the Labor Force of Tomorrow: Migration, Training, Education, University of Illinois Press, 2017, pp. 25-44.

    Chapter in Michael A. Pagano‘s Jobs and the Labor Force of Tomorrow: Migration, Training, Education.

    Document