Original Reporting

Original Reporting | | Corporate influence, Open government
Part 3 of our series on government incentive programs for businesses examines the justifications given by state and local officials who favor granting subsidies, but resist disclosing who gets them.More
Original Reporting | | Government services, Law, State government
According to data from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), 42 state legislatures reduced their state court budgets between 2008 and 2011. A variety of cutbacks ensued — including staff layoffs, reductions in courthouse hours, and pay cuts for courthouse personnel — and many state judicial systems have consequently slowed down. Businesses use the courts far more than anyone else. Are some businesses that have genuine grievances throwing up their hands and accepting their losses because of the prospect of increased delays and higher costs?More
Original Reporting | | Corporate influence, Open government
Part 2 of our series on government incentive programs for businesses focuses on the lack of transparency at the local level.More
Original Reporting | | Elections, Voting rights
According to the Census Bureau, even during presidential election years, at least a quarter of the eligible electorate has been unregistered in the period from 1980 through 2008. But current voter registration efforts don’t come close to meeting the need, especially because so much of registration under the U.S. system is highly labor-intensive.More
Original Reporting | | Corporate influence, Open government
Using public dollars to subsidize private businesses has become a routine part of economic development policy in the United States. But many economists believe that the benefits to a state or locality are generally modest, and that incentives can actually hurt other local businesses. Moreover, looked at from the point of view of the net effect on the national economy, some incentives provide no gain, and others are harmful to productivity. So why do policy makers keep doling out these subsidies? The first part in a Remapping Debate series on government aid to businesses.More
Original Reporting | | Food, Food safety
The recent study has gotten widespread press attention for the proposition that organic food is not safer to eat than non-organic food. But one of the study’s lead authors acknowledges that a series of health and safety issues relating to non-organic foods were not examined.More
Original Reporting | | Markets, Taxes
A "Robin Hood" tax — a small fee on stock, bond, and derivative transactions that has been supported by some high-profile, center-right EU political leaders — is likely to be enacted soon by several EU countries, including Germany and France. Here in the U.S., an activist coalition that favors a financial transaction tax to help generate the revenue needed to protect and expand government programs — and to deter what it considers the destabilizing and unproductive role "high-frequency trading" — is just gearing up. Thus far, despite the introduction of several FTT bills, a majority of national Democrats have stayed silent on the issue.More
Original Reporting | | Alternative models, State government, Transportation
The Cuomo administration is studying alternatives for improving train service between New York and Albany (and on to Buffalo), but the fastest options — true high-speed rail service — have already been ruled out. It turns out that the approach the administration describes as putting the state “on track to the rail system of the future” won’t go all that fast, abandoning the potential benefits that some say true high-speed rail would bring to New York.More