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Archive: Mark Muro

Reconstructing the Structure: Fiscal Reform — Or Else

Mark Muro / Jan 14 2011

For Release Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mark MuroNationwide, the Great Recession is over. Economic output is expanding, modest job growth has begun, and housing prices are stabilizing.

At last thoughts are turning to building a new and more durable “next economy” in the U.S. and its regions.

And yet across the 50 states, a major problem intrudes.

Three years after the crash, the deepest economic downturn in memory has exposed and exacerbated a massive public-sector fiscal crisis that has the power to paralyze states, undercut growth, and turn states inward just when they need to look outward.
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New Metro Formula: Helping Those Who Help Themselves

Mark Muro and Rob Puentes / Jun 05 2010

For Release Sunday, June 06, 2010

Mark Muro Rob Puentes

The federal transportation finance system is broken and will be short on cash for the for a long time.

Some regions—like the growing Phoenix, Salt Lake, Las Vegas, and Denver metropolitan areas—have meanwhile achieved transformation viability through unusual self-help (although they still face massive challenges).

Is there a deal to be done? Perhaps there is.

Check out, for example, the intriguing concept for a new federal-metro partnership in transportation finance being shopped around by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) in Arizona.

Challenged by needs yet pessimistic about the likelihood of new federal funding, MAG would have the federal government and large metropolitan areas work a trade in which Washington would provide new incentives in the form of increased and direct funding to metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and new flexibilities in exchange for those regions’ continued contribution of substantial regional funding to the creation of the national transportation system. Along those lines, what MAG calls a “new partnership” between Washington and its most creative regions might enable new progress in addressing the nation’s gargantuan transportation challenges.

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Las Vegas’ Dilemma: America’s, Only More So

Mark Muro / Oct 23 2009

For Release Friday, October 23, 2009

Mark MuroThe truism, of course, is that Las Vegas is the great exception–a bizarre, completely unrepresentative aberration thankfully isolated in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

And there is plenty of truth to the perception, crystallized in the fantastical, now mostly frozen construction site of the Strip skyline.

And yet, as my group at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution launches an initiative to deepen our research in the Mountain West, I find myself thinking less about the ways Las Vegas is strange and more about how it is representative, even emblematic of America’s current predicament.

After all, Las Vegas’ gargantuan problems and its necessary way forward mirror and take to an extreme those of our troubled nation as a whole. Read More »

ARRA on the Ground

Mark Muro and Jennifer Bradley / Apr 02 2009

For Release Sunday, April 5, 2009

Mark Muro How should a nation stimulate the economy when there’s no single U.S. economy, nor even 50 state economies, but instead a loosely linked network of 363 metropolitan economies, each composed of multiple, independent-minded towns and counties?

Well, for one thing it should invest in what matters to metros, and beyond that, it should provide to regions significant power and incentives to “put it all together” in a coherent way.

That’s the way to make the most of a stimulus push.

Which raises the $700 billion question: How did Congress and the Obama administration do this winter with the now-famous American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), at $787 billion the biggest and boldest response to a national economic downturn in U.S. history? Read More »

Stimulus Good News: Ready States, Regions

Mark Muro / Feb 19 2009

For Release Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mark Muro President Obama’s economic recovery package will succeed to the extent it juices the true engines of the American economy–U.S. metropolitan areas, home to two-thirds of our population, generators of three-quarters of our GDP.

That much is clear.

But now that Obama has traveled to Denver to sign the bill, doubts are in full flow about whether the needed juicing will actually occur.

Overwhelmingly, the smart set predicts the bill’s haphazard collection of separate funding items–for roads and transit, schools, safety net programs, and energy efficiency–will be frittered away in an uncoordinated spending spree. The prevailing “wisdom” is that state and local implementation of the $787 billion package will degenerate into a scrimmage of competing agendas among governors and legislatures, state capitals and city halls, and even between neighboring municipalities. Read More »