State and local governments are the laboratories of democracy where new ideas are first tried and tested. In the 1990s, successful innovations in reforming public assistance and controlling crime emerged this way. Today, promising new approaches to reform of unaffordable public pensions, improvement of public education, and control of public spending are germinating in our states and cities. The Center spotlights such ideas and provides the research and proposals to fuel even more, with a special focus today on public finance, public education, and the delivery of public services. The Center hosts high-profile events, launches acclaimed books, seeds game-changing policy initiatives, and manages popular websites, such as PublicSectorInc.org, which dive deeply into key issues facing state and city governments. Read more about CSLL topics...
State and city budgets across the nation are sagging under the weight of promises to public employees which governments cannot afford. It's a crisis that has led to stark choices: cuts in public services and even bankruptcy – or reform. The Center examines key questions the crisis has raised. Should public employees make more than private employees? How can pension and health benefits be fairly structured? Are there new ways for taxpayers to get the services that they deserve for the tax dollars that they spend? Through our online web-portal – PublicSectorInc.org – the Center is leading the national conversation about these issues, highlighting the best ideas from across the country, and laying out a positive vision for a new social contract between public employees and the American taxpayer.
As proven by the remarkable turnaround in New York City in the mid-1990's – which saw crime rates plummet, neighborhoods be re-claimed, and the quality of life for all New Yorkers dramatically improve –cities can win the war on crime. Through a series of reforms pioneered by Manhattan Institute fellows – most notably the use of "broken windows" or social order policing – and management mechanisms such as CompStat, many of America's police departments have proven that the right mix of reform, coupled with a willingness to challenge the status quo, can lead to safer streets and stronger communities.
The Manhattan Institute has long been committed to finding ways of drawing the disadvantaged into the social and economic mainstream, through the time-honored American combination of free markets and personal initiative. And we have long been committed to helping cities improve their quality of life. These commitments come together in our pilot project with the City of Newark, New Jersey, where we helped to design and implement a strategy for a model prisoner-reentry program.
The educational achievement of America's children continues to decline, despite long-term increases in public spending, improvements to the physical and technical infrastructure of schools, and a constant focus on smaller class sizes. For parents, public school options are particularly bleak in America's cities. New ideas are needed to spur innovation and stem the achievement decline. To that end, the Manhattan Institute focuses on a range of education policy issues, including school choice, teacher quality, curricular standards, and school accountability.
America's public housing model has been deteriorating since the 1970's and the need for new, innovative approaches to this critical social issue is clear. The skylines of so many American cities are littered with the bleak reminders of a failed housing policy that eschewed personal responsibility for the sake of group dependency. The Center is committed to critically examining the latest proposals to re-invent public housing policy in a way that improves the economic, social and emotional well-being of our cities and their citizens.
The need to maintain, improve and expand America's aging infrastructure is critical to bolstering America's competitiveness, fostering economic growth and maintaining a good quality of life. But too often public funds are spent without regard for the most important of investment criteria: return on investment. As state and city budgets shrink, a fresh look at infrastructure financing is needed to ensure that development is done in the most efficient and effective way. Our fellows are constantly generating new proposals for how best to achieve America's infrastructure goals while keeping an eye keenly focused on the bottom line.
Understanding the economic, civic, and cultural progress of immigrants to the United States is critical to understanding how various government policies are impacting the social fabric of America. When cities – the primary places in which new Americans settle – are successful at assimilating recent immigrants, a rich civic life can flourish and economic growth and political stability can be maintained. The Center tracks the assimilation of immigrants in America's cities in order to better understand how to best ensure opportunities for all Americans.
As cities and states face shrinking budgets, the need for mayors and governors to re-imagine how they deliver public services is critical. Drawing on successful examples from individuals such as Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, District of Columbia School Superintendent Michelle Rhee, Atlanta Public Housing Authority Director Renee Glover and Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the Center provides best practices that help make government more effective and efficient. To highlight successes, the Center runs an
annual award competition called the Urban Innovator, honoring one policymaker per year who has pioneered a truly game-changing way of delivering value to taxpayers. By transforming the way government works, we can lay the groundwork for an environment in which commerce, employment, and a rich civic life can flourish.