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Robert M. La Follette
School of Public Affairs
1225 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Telephone:  608.262.3581
Fax: 608.265.3233

Last updated:
October 9, 2013


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Publications: Workshop Reports: 2013

The Public Affairs Workshops are the capstone courses for the La Follette School's two master's degree programs, the Master of International Public Affairs and the Master of Public Affairs. Workshop students gain practical experience applying the tools of political, economic and statistical analysis they acquired during three semesters of coursework. In addressing actual problems faced by clients in the public, non-governmental and private sectors, the students work closely together in teams to produce carefully crafted reports that meet high professional and academic standards. This culminating project is the equivalent of the thesis for a degree from the La Follette School of Public Affairs. The students produce research-based, analytical, evaluative and prescriptive reports for real-world clients who range from municipal government offices to international development organizations. Through these reports, students contribute to the University of Wisconsin-Madison's outreach mission and to the Wisconsin Idea.

PA 869: Workshop in Public Affairs

Professor Andrew Reschovsky

Full Exclusion of Retirement Income from State Taxation: Evaluating the Impact in Wisconsin
Prepared for the Wisconsin Department of Revenue by Ed Cubero, Sam Harms, Andrew Kleps, Katie Paff, and Angela C. Waltz
This report investigates the revenue, distributional, and migration impacts of a full exclusion of retirement income from Wisconsin state taxation. The authors' review of public finance literature and an analysis of the migratory patterns of older adults in Wisconsin indicate that state income tax preferences for older adults have limited to no impact on elderly interstate migration. The exclusion would benefit primarily individuals with higher incomes and increase the differential tax burden between younger and older Wisconsin residents. The analysis demonstrates that foregone state revenue resulting from the exclusion would increase in dollar terms and as a percentage of total state income tax revenue as the population ages. Presentation slides

Strategies for Reducing In Rem Foreclosures in the City of Milwaukee
Prepared for the City of Milwaukee, Department of Administration, Budget and Management Division by Bryan Mette, Joe O’Connell, Michelle Prost, Erika Schoot, and Elizabeth Silverstein
This report examines the in rem foreclosure process employed by the City of Milwaukee to collect delinquent property taxes. It identifies factors linked to the recent rise in the number of in rem foreclosures in the city. After a regression analysis identifying variables that affect in rem foreclosure, the report recommends policies designed to limit the number of properties entering the foreclosure process for tax delinquency. Presentation slides

Student Mobility Patterns and Achievement in Wisconsin
Prepared for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction by Selina Eadie, Ryan Eisner, Bryan Miller, and Leni Wolf
Although research suggests that student mobility affects academic outcomes, little is known about student mobility patterns in Wisconsin. This report analyzes statewide administrative data to describe mobility trends in Wisconsin and determine the association between moves and student performance. The authors conclude that mobility rates vary by student characteristics and that moving is one factor that harms student achievement. Presentation slides

Narrowing the Achievement Gap: Policy Success at the State Level
Prepared for the Department of Public Instruction by Kelsey Hill, Daniel Moser, R. Sam Shannon, Timothy St Louis
This report provides a systematic review of what states across the country are doing to address racial academic achievement gaps. The authors conduct an in-depth analysis of the policies in four “target states,” including a projection of the ease with which each one could be transferred to Wisconsin. They also consider policies in the 45 “non-target states,” drawn from the state level as well as the district and school levels. Collectively they review initiatives in a number of different areas, including curriculum standards, early childhood education, high school persistence, and educator supports. Presentation slides


Professor Robert Haveman

Examining the Skills Gap in Wisconsin
Prepared for the Wisconsin Legislative Council by Megan Loritz, Ben Nerad, Phil Sletten, and Jennifer Cunha
This report explores the mismatch in Wisconsin between the human capital supplied by labor and the demands of employers, also known as the skills gap. In their projected estimates of skills gaps into the year 2020, they do not find evidence for a persistent or substantial skills gap by educational attainment level. They conclude that Wisconsin may face an oversupply of educated workers in the medium-term. However, the authors do find skills gaps in several specific occupations. Presentation slides

Strengthening Health Outcomes for Foster Care Children
Prepared for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families by Susan Cosgrove, Carlton Frost, Rebecca Chown, and Tawsif Anam
The report examines Medicaid data for two groups of children in Wisconsin: children in out-of-home care and children enrolled in Medicaid but not in foster care. The authors make specific recommendations for implementation of the Foster Care Medical Home project in six Wisconsin counties to better meet the comprehensive health needs of foster children. Presentation slides

PA 860: Workshop in International Public Affairs

Professor Melanie Manion

The MCC Incentive Effect: Quantifying Incentives for Policy Change in an Ex-Post Rewards System
Prepared for the Millennium Challenge Corporation by Ingrid Aune, Yanyan Chen, Christina Miller, and Joshua Williams
The Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent U.S. foreign aid agency, uses an ex-post rewards system to determine potential eligibility for funding. When countries change policies specifically to meet MCC eligibility requirements, the “MCC incentive effect” has occurred. In a comprehensive and transparent quantitative study of that effect, the authors conclude the quantitative evidence is not strong enough to support the existence of the MCC incentive. Their study provides new insight and perspectives on how the effect should be studied. Presentation slides. Award-winning poster prepared for American Association for Budget and Program Analysis symposium

China’s Increased Trade and Investment in South Asia (Spoiler Alert: It’s The Economy)
Prepared for U.S. Government Office of South Asia Policy by Emily Brunjes, Nicholas Levine, Miriam Palmer, and Addison Smith
This report examines China’s increased economic activity in South Asia to determine if normal economic interests can explain the increases. Econometric analysis by the authors reveals a pattern of activity consistent with the predictions of economic models and consistent with China's trade and investment on a global scale; a qualitative analysis of large projects suggests a similar conclusion. The authors offer conclusions on implications for China’s relationship with India as well as trends to monitor going forward. Presentation slides

Brokering Development Assistance in East Africa: A Policy Analysis
Prepared for the Global Livingston Institute by Mengwei Deng, James Galindo, Troy Hoppenjan, Katherine Mitchell, and Steven Swedberg
The Global Livingston Institute seeks to become a broker of development assistance in East Africa. This report expands upon a 2012 needs assessment and examines ways to meet development needs in the Global Livingston Institute’s areas of operation. The authors recommend reinforcement and expansion of organizational capacities by developing a structured online database to match volunteer interests with nonprofit partner needs. Presentation slides

Indicators of Women’s Empowerment in Developing Nations
By (Daisy) Bui Chung, Kulvatee Kantachote, Asmah Mallick, Rachel Polster, and Kelsey Roets
This report analyzes gender-sensitive indicators of women’s empowerment in developing countries. The authors identify 581 indicators used by international and national agencies across the five dimensions of economic contribution, education, governance, health, and media. They recommend the use of 37 of the identified indicators to measure the effectiveness of policies aimed at empowering women. Presentation slides

PA810: Seminar in Energy Policy

Professor Bernie Lesieutre

Reallocating Distribution Upgrade Costs for Farm Digester Projects
Prepared for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin by Edward J. Cubero, Samuel Harms, R. Sam Shannon
Wisconsin utilities require generating customers to pay for distribution upgrades up front, which inhibits the growth of farm digester projects. This report presents options for new ways to assign the costs of these upgrades. The authors recommend requiring utilities to recover the costs via operating leases. The authors also recommend further investigation into passing the costs on to ratepayers via the transmission utility. Presentation slides


PDF of summaries for 2013

2012 reports

2011 reports

2010 reports

2009 reports

2008 reports

2007 reports

2006 reports

2005 reports

2000-2004 reports