Case Studies
Decentralization Through Centralization: The Story Of The Recovery School District Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Individuals who support free markets and limited government often are the most strident advocates for school choice. Many of these same individuals applaud the development of the emerging school choice market in New Orleans. The irony of this is that Louisiana has expanded choice and created the first all-charter school district in the country through the use of greater centralized control.

This strategy of promoting decentralization through centralization is spreading. Thus far, Louisiana’s turnaround has inspired Tennessee, Michigan, and Virginia to adopt similar models.

This paper explains how the Pelican State came to be a bastion for school choice and a model for other states. Specifically, it details how Louisiana has been able to develop a robust school choice system through the state’s Recovery School District (RSD). It is clear from this review that New Orleans would not be the school choice model that it is without the vast authority that has been placed in the hands of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

Read the full case study: Decentralization Through Centralization: The Story Of The Recovery School District.


Teacher Pension Enhancement In Missouri: 1975 To The Present Print E-mail
By Robert Costrell   
Monday, July 21, 2014

 This case study examines the history of benefit enhancements in Missouri’s main teacher pension plan from 1975 to the present.

Pennsylvania’s Education Improvement Tax Credit Program: A Winning Educational Partnership Print E-mail
By Andrew LeFevre   
Monday, April 14, 2014

Pennsylvania's Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program creates partnerships between parents, businesses, and scholarship organizations. These partnerships allow funding to follow students, giving children and their families choices of schools that best fit their needs.

Giving Arizona Children Better Opportunities in Education Print E-mail
By Jonathan Butcher   
Sunday, March 02, 2014

For 16 years, school tuition awards awards have given thousands of Arizona students more choices. This case study highlights research demonstrating that the scholarships give families across the state, including low-income families, access to private schools.

Live Free and Learn: A Case Study of New Hampshire’s Scholarship Tax Credit Program Print E-mail
By Jason Bedrick   
Thursday, February 27, 2014

In order to facilitate a better understanding of how STC programs work in practice, this paper summarizes the available research on STC programs in general and presents a case study on New Hampshire’s STC program in particular.

Government Privatization in Missouri: Successes, Risks, and Opportunities Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Monday, February 10, 2014

There are numerous ways that Missouri communities can benefit from privatization. This case study documents examples from across the state to inform the public as well as decision makers about the options available.

Promoting Private Land Ownership In Saint Louis: A Data Update On The Land Reutilization Authority Print E-mail
By Haleigh Albers   
Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) of the City of Saint Louis manages more than 10,000 vacant and abandoned properties. Its actions can play a major role in determining the future of this city.

Kansas City and Saint Louis Expense Breakdown Compared To Six Other Cities Print E-mail
By Michael Rathbone   
Tuesday, July 09, 2013

This case study focuses on the cost of services that a city provides. The goal of this paper is to describe spending patterns on government services compared to Kansas City and Saint Louis. By presenting Saint Louis’ and Kansas City’s total expenditures and breaking down the general categories in which these expenditures were made, it is possible to compare them, in some ways, to the expenditures of other, similarly sized cities. For the purposes of this paper, the comparison cities are Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Denver, Louisville, and Indianapolis.

The Effectiveness of Enterprise Zones in Missouri Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Tuesday, January 08, 2013

There are a substantial number of government programs to stimulate economic investment in Missouri. There are 36 different state economic development tax credit programs, each with their own requirements and rules.

They range from large programs, such as the historic preservation tax credit and the Quality Jobs program, to the small, such as the state’s film tax credit. There are at least half a dozen more state-authorized local tax incentive programs, such as Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Missouri, like many states, aggressively uses these programs to encourage investments the government deems desirable.

But do these programs work?

Virtual Blended With Traditional Learning Can Cut Costs And Help Students Print E-mail
By Audrey Spalding   
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

During the 2012 legislative session, Missouri lawmakers failed to pass public school funding reform and failed to do much to address the increasing number of students trapped in failing districts. Education funding continues to consume a large share of the state budget, and public school districts receive billions in local property tax revenues. Meanwhile, student academic achievement in Missouri remains low when compared to other states.

As innovation continues to change the way we work and communicate, forms of virtual education are beginning to take hold in Missouri and elsewhere. Virtual education has been shown to reduce the costs of educating public school children, increase course diversity, and help students graduate.

Homes, Taxes, and Schools: The Effects of School District Rankings and Property Tax Rates on Property Valuations in Richmond Heights, Missouri Print E-mail
By David Stokes and Christine Harbin, with research assistance by Josh Smith   
Friday, August 26, 2011

Cities, counties, school districts, and many other local taxing districts rely on property taxes to fund their operations. For a full review of the details of property assessment and taxation in Missouri, please read Show-Me Institute Policy Study Number 28, “Homes, Taxes and Choices: A Review of Real Estate Assessment and Property Taxation in Missouri.” In Missouri, the local assessor assigns a value to taxable property every two years. Local governments then use those values to set their property tax rates. The rate and value are combined to calculate the annual property tax bill sent out each year to homeowners and other types of property owners. Those property taxes are the primary source of funding for local government authorities in Missouri.

Virtual Learning: Beyond Brick and Mortar Print E-mail
By Caitlin Hartsell   
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In recent years, federal, state, and local governments have spent increasing amounts of taxpayer money on Missouri’s public schools. Analysis of Missouri spending and test data, however, finds no relationship between increases in per-pupil expenditures and increases in student achievement. While many well-intentioned reform efforts have been unsuccessful — such as decreased class size and adopting a uniform set of curriculum standards — a few reforms have been effective.

'Aerotropolis': A Raw Deal for Missouri Print E-mail
By Audrey Spalding, Patrick Ishmael   
Monday, July 11, 2011

The Missouri General Assembly may reconvene in special session to take up tax credit legislation that includes $ 360 million in taxpayer-backed incentives to develop in Saint Louis a new international trade hub, more commonly known today as “Aerotropolis.”

Building Missouri's Urban and Transportation Infrastructures to Support Economic Development Print E-mail
By Jerome Day   
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This study presents the case for Missouri promoting more rapid economic growth by developing a Saint Louis–Kansas City urban corridor as a component and model for a subsequent, larger Kansas City–Columbus, Ohio, urban corridor.

Privatization of the Saint Louis Water Utility Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Monday, May 17, 2010

The city of Saint Louis, with a population of approximately 350,000 people, provides water to its residents and firms via the common municipal water utility. The surrounding and politically separate Saint Louis County, with a population of slightly less than 1 million, has long used private utilities to provide water to almost all of its residents and businesses. Unless the city can demonstrate that private operation of the water supply would result in both lower overall water quality and higher real costs (after adjusting for the current subsidies that are common with municipal utilities), the city should strongly consider the financial opportunities of selling its water treatment and distribution systems.

Previous Estimates Overstate 'Fair Tax' Rates, Harms Print E-mail
By Joseph Haslag, Abhi Sivasailam   
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

House Joint Resolution 36 (2009), the “Fair Tax” bill, called for replacing personal and corporate income taxes with a broad, revenue neutral 5.11-percent sales tax. The legislation also called for a tax rebate to be disbursed on the first day of each month to qualified families in the state. In our view, Missouri’s economy would grow faster if HJR 36 were enacted. However, through a combination of misinformation, miscalculation, and the promotion of myths, HJR 36 was unfairly maligned.

All Caught Up: How Tax Policy May Have Allowed Tennessee to Outgrow Missouri Print E-mail
By Jenifer Zeigler Roland   
Thursday, August 06, 2009

Missouri and Tennessee are border states that resemble each other in many ways. Despite the states’ similarities, Missouri has historically been the more populous and prosperous of the two, owing in part to its size advantage and in part to historical factors. Throughout the 1900s, however, Tennessee’s population and economy have gradually caught up to Missouri's; its population is now about 5 percent larger than its neighbor to the northwest, it has a higher per-capita GDP, and its per-capita GDP now trails Missouri's by only a few percentage points. In order to evaluate why Tennessee’s economy has grown at a faster rate than Missouri’s, it is important to consider the impact of one of the most significant and enduring differences between the two states: macroeconomic tax policy.

Occupational Licensing of Massage Therapists in Missouri and Kansas Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Thursday, December 04, 2008

The licensing of occupations in Missouri could be could be costing consumers more for some services. Although a nationwide survey by the Reason Foundation last year listed Missouri as the state with the fewest statewide occupational licensing requirements, many occupations are still subject to unnecessary restrictions on who may enter the profession. This drives up prices and can, in many cases, spur business owners to locate elsewhere. This case study focuses in particular on massage therapists. It compares the prices of massage therapy in Missouri, which licenses therapists statewide, and Kansas, which doesn’t. It looks at price comparisons in the metropolitan Kansas City market and compares Springfield to Wichita. The study documents how massage therapist licensing in Missouri leads to higher costs for consumers in Springfield, and leads to more businesses locating in on the Kansas side of the state line in Kansas City.

The Economic Impact of the Missouri E-10 Ethanol Mandate Print E-mail
By David Stokes, Justin Hauke   
Friday, July 18, 2008

Missouri is one of only three states that require a 10-percent minimum ethanol blend (E-10) for retail gasoline sold within the state. The Missouri Corn Merchandising Council (MCMC) recently released a study purporting to demonstrate the positive economic benefits of the state's ethanol mandate for Missouri consumers. The study claimed that Missourians will save more than $285 million through ethanol-induced fuel cost reductions in 2008 and nearly $2 billion in present value during the following decade. The MCMC study ignores important effects of the E-10 mandate, however, most notably the documented decrease in fuel efficiency of E-10 blended fuel and the taxpayer cost of ethanol subsidies. We find that accounting for these costs significantly impacts the MCMC savings projections and would result in a net loss to Missouri consumers of almost $1 billion during the next decade. If one were to consider the additional impact of the E-10 mandate on higher food prices and CO2 gas emissions, these costs would be even higher.

Saint Louis County, Drugs, and Competitive Bidding: A Privatization Success Story Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Monday, August 27, 2007

This study examines the privatization of pharmacy services in Saint Louis County. The author, Show-Me Institute policy analyst David Stokes, reviews trends in both the budget and actual expenses of county pharmacy operation, which show that before 2003, costs were rapidly rising — consistently outstripping budgeted figures. When the county opened a competitive bidding process for provision of pharmacy services in early 2003, costs began to drop dramatically. Since then, the county has spent less than it budgeted on the pharmacy every year, even as those budgeted amounts continue to decrease each year, in response to the significant cost savings. While this privatization was saving taxpayer dollars, it was also — more importantly — providing better pharmacy services to the people of Saint Louis County who used the health department clinics. 

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