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Breaking Down Barriers: Experiments into Policies That Might Incentivize Employers to Hire Ex-Offenders

Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities


Review of the Florida Lottery, 2017

Graduate and Professional School Debt

A Leak in the Pipeline: How Hiring Bias Might Be Compounding the Teacher Shortage

States Continue Advancing Strategies to Scale Work-Based Learning


Florida Growth Fund Investments Have Provided Over $300 Million in Distributions to the FRS; Fund Managers Continue to Seek New Investment Opportunities

Revenue Increases in Majority of Services Sectors

Transportation Economic Trends 2017


Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts

Supporting Patients Through Serious Illness and the End of Life: Sutter Health’s AIM Model

January 19, 2018


The rate of criminal punishment in the U.S. has had far-reaching economic consequences, in large part because people with criminal records are marginalized within the labor market. Given these negative economic implications, federal, state and local officials have developed a host of policies to encourage employers to hire ex-offenders, with varying degrees of success. To inform policies and programs aimed at improving employment rates for ex-offenders, this study examined employer preferences regarding policy options targeted to incentivize hiring individuals with one non-violent felony conviction. In these experiments, employers were 69% more likely to consider hiring an ex-offender if a hiring agency also provides a guaranteed replacement worker in the event the ex-offender was deemed unsuitable and 53% more likely to hire an ex-offender who can provide a certificate of validated positive previous work performance history. Having consistent transportation provided by a hiring agency increased the likelihood of being considered for hire by 33%. Employers also were found to be 30% more likely to consider an ex-offender for hire if the government increases the tax credit from 25% of the worker’s wages (up to $2,500) to 40% (up to $5,000) - double the current maximum amount allowed by the Work Opportunity Tax Credit - and 24% more likely to hire an ex-offender if the government completed all tax-related paperwork.

Source: RAND Corporation

Alcohol-impaired driving is an important health and social issue as it remains a major risk to Americans’ health today, surpassing deaths per year of certain cancers, HIV/AIDS, and drownings, among others, and contributing to long-term disabilities from head and spinal injuries. Progress has been made over the past decades towards reducing these trends, but that progress has been incremental and has stagnated more recently. This report examines which interventions (programs, systems, and policies) are most promising to prevent injuries and death from alcohol-impaired driving, the barriers to action and approaches to overcome them, and which interventions need to be changed or adopted. This report makes broad-reaching recommendations aimed at reducing alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. Recommendations include policies such as raising taxes on alcohol, reduce alcohol advertising and marketing, lower blood alcohol concentration limits for impaired driving offenses to .05%, and conducted frequent sobriety checkpoints.

Source: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine


Lottery transfers to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund decreased in Fiscal Year 2016-17 to $1.656 billion or $36 million less than the prior year. This decrease is primarily due to lower overall draw game sales and transfers, and appears more significant due to a record setting Powerball jackpot that increased ticket sales for the prior year. Several additional game and product distribution options are available to further increase transfers to education. However, some options could represent expanded gambling. In addition, the introduction of new games likely would result in shifts in sales from existing games. The Lottery continues to outperform the legislative performance standard for its operating expense rate, which is second lowest in the nation. The Lottery should continue its ongoing efforts to protect the integrity of the Lottery by improving its capabilities for identifying and investigating potential ticket theft or brokering by retailers; and increasing the number of retailer locations with ticket self-checkers and providing a ticket scanning function in its mobile app. If the Legislature is concerned about the possibility that minors could buy lottery tickets, it could consider directing the Lottery to configure its vending machines to require age verification.

Source: OPPAGA

During academic year 2015–16, advanced degree students borrowed an average of $18,210, which is more than three times the $5,460 average among undergraduates. In 2015–16, only 17% of federal student loan borrowers were graduate and professional degree students, but they accounted for 38% of federal education loans, an increase from 32% in 2005–06. Professional degrees include law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary, and other medical degrees. In 2011–12, almost 60% of professional degree recipients had borrowed more than $100,000 to fund their studies, compared with only 10% of advanced degree students overall. Almost 90% of professional degree recipients had debt, compared with about two-thirds of master’s degree and just over half of research doctoral degree recipients. The share of graduate and professional degree students who accrued at least $75,000 of debt more than doubled between 2007–08 and 2011–12. Among 2007–08 bachelor’s degree recipients who were enrolled in professional degree programs in 2009, 43% borrowed more than $30,000 for their first year of study. The majority of master’s and research doctoral degree students did not borrow.

Source: Urban Institute

This report aims to increase understanding of where teacher recruiting and hiring practices may be falling short. The analysis suggests that certain biases in the hiring process may contribute to the nation’s $2.2 billion annual teacher turnover problem – often cited by states and districts as a contributor to teacher shortages. Educators who are applying for positions are often coming from a broad range of sources, including public job boards and interstate websites, yet those who are hired are coming disproportionately from known sources such as local referrals and district websites. The authors analyzed hiring and referral data from 832 public school districts in 45 states and more than 250,000 unique applicants from July 2014 to June 2017. While responses to job board postings consistently generated about 40% of active-license candidate applications, school districts selected only about 12% of the applicants from those pipelines. By contrast, while about 15% of applications came from referrals, over 30% of educators were hired from those sources. The findings suggest school districts could enhance their recruiting and hiring practices by casting a wider net, and then employing a more standardized, rigorous screening and interview process that raises the likelihood that highly qualified, or good fit candidates will be hired even if they do not have an existing personal connection to the school district.

Source: Frontline Research and Learning Institute

States increasingly need a more highly skilled workforce to meet the requirements of businesses, keep up with a rapidly changing economy, and accelerate growth that leads to economic opportunity for workers and families. As a result, governors recognize that their role is to bring together education, workforce, and economic development as talent pipeline partners to better equip workers with skills businesses need. Work-based learning approaches have emerged from these partnerships as a promising strategy to address the mismatch between employer needs and the skill levels of available workers. These approaches connect work experiences that are of value and relevant to the sponsoring employer partners’ workforce needs—also known as authentic work experiences—with structured learning activities. The goal of work-based learning is to reinforce practical and theoretical concepts, thus better preparing trainees for the realities of the workplace while meeting the needs of businesses. This report summarizes key actions governors can take to embed work-based learning across education, workforce, and economic development systems.

Source: National Governors Association

Government Operations

As of June 30, 2017, the Florida Growth Fund program had invested $564.4 million in 41 technology and growth companies and 31 private equity funds. Investments were dispersed across 13 counties, with amounts ranging from $6.8 million in Manatee County to $165.2 million in Palm Beach County. Since its inception, Florida Growth Fund I has experienced a net internal rate of return of 12.6% and has distributed $294.8 million to the Florida Retirement System as of June 30, 2017. Due to the success of Florida Growth Fund I, the State Board of Administration’s managers authorized the initiation of Florida Growth Fund II, which made its first commitment in December 2014. To date, Florida Growth Fund II has made eight fund commitments and seven direct investments, totaling $125.6 million in capital. Florida Growth Fund II had generated a 14.7% net internal rate of return as of June 30, 2017, and distributed $9.2 million to the Florida Retirement System. This was the first year of positive returns since Florida Growth Fund II was initiated. The program’s investments resulted in reported economic benefits to the state. Companies that received Florida Growth Fund program investments reported creating 16,882 jobs as of June 30, 2017. The companies also reported paying an average annual salary of $77,808 for those jobs created over the past year; however, salaries varied widely, from $17,680 to $750,000. In addition, 13 companies and 14 private equity funds reported making $178.6 million in capital expenditures between June 30, 2016, and June 30, 2017, bringing total capital expenditures to $545.9 million since the fund’s inception.

Source: OPPAGA

This interactive infographic shows the percent changes in revenue from 2015 to 2016 for majority of services sectors. From 2015 to 2016, revenue increased in all major services sectors except for utilities and transportation/warehousing. The highest percentage growth was in the sectors of administrative and support and waste management and remediation services.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

This report highlights important trends in transportation and the economy, and explains related economic concepts and data sources. The Transportation Services Index (TSI) measures the volume of freight and passengers moved. There are three TSIs: a freight index, a passenger index, and a combined index. From 2000 to 2017, the combined TSI increased by 21.7%, the freight TSI increased by 17.8%, and the passenger TSI increased by 30.2%. However, all three measures declined in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks. The passenger TSI dropped sharply – 19.3% from August 2001 to September 2001 due to significant declines in passenger air travel. The indices also decreased sharply during the Great Recession from December 2007 to June 2009. The combined TSI decreased by 11.4%, the passenger TSI decreased by 6.7%, and the freight TSI decreased by 13.2%. All three indexes have since recovered to pre-recession levels.

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Health and Human Services

This data visualization presents provisional counts for drug overdose deaths based on a current flow of mortality data in the National Vital Statistics System. National provisional counts include deaths occurring within the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Beginning in 2018, the provisional number of deaths due to any opioid are included. Counts for the most recent final annual data are provided for comparison. The annual number of drug overdose deaths in Florida raised 46%, from 3,843 deaths in 2015-16 to 5,604 deaths in 2016-17.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Even though most people say they want to stay home and avoid stress and discomfort near the end of life, health care interventions tend to increase dramatically during the final months, often producing little benefit and much suffering. This report analyzes the Sutter Health’s Advanced Illness Management (AIM) program for end of life care. Nurses and social workers in AIM programs engage terminally ill patients, elicit and document their goals, and support them as they navigate their physical and emotional challenges. By honoring patients’ wishes and better coordinating care, the program reduces total health care spending by as much as $9,000 per year, chiefly by reducing acute care use.

Source: Commonwealth Fund

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Government Program Summaries (GPS) is a free resource for legislators and the public that provides descriptive information on over 200 state government programs. To provide fiscal data, GPS links to Transparency Florida, the Legislature's website that includes continually updated information on the state's operating budget and daily expenditures by state agencies.


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PolicyNotes, published every Friday, features reports, articles, and websites with timely information of interest to policymakers and researchers. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by third parties as reported in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect OPPAGA's views.

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