Justin Vélez-Hagan, Public Policy, Op-Ed in Fox News Latino

In his latest column published in Fox News LatinoPublic Policy Ph.D. student Justin Vélez-Hagan writes historians may view this as Puerto Rico’s “lost decade” if no changes are made to its economic policies. Vélez-Hagan is executive director of the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce. He writes Puerto Rico’s economic woes may be rooted in production.

“Many believe that Puerto Rico’s weak economy is partly attributable to a lack of investment in the production of exports, often considered one of the major factors behind the original ‘lost decade,’” Vélez-Hagan writes.

In the article, Vélez-Hagan also contends that even with its economic struggles, it is unlikely Puerto Rico will go through a substantial economic collapse.

“Although it won’t be bailed out by the IMF or World Bank, its economy still has something the rest of the world envies: the financial backstop of the greatest economic powerhouse that ever existed, one that is unlikely to allow a U.S. territory with nearly four million of its citizens to suffer through a Latin American-style economic collapse,” he adds.

To read the full column in Fox News Latino, click here.

Donald Norris, Public Policy, in The Washington Post, The Diamondback, and Baltimore Jewish Times

An article published in The Washington Post April 15 examines the steps Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has taken during the last year in preparation for a potential White House bid in 2016. The article states O’Malley has been pivoting toward the left and has energized the Democratic base on issues such as gun control, same-sex marriage and raising the minimum wage.

Donald Norris UMBC

Public Policy Professor and Chair Donald Norris was interviewed for the article and said it is clear to many that O’Malley is attempting to appeal to the left ahead of the 2016 election.

“I think everybody in Maryland who pays any attention to politics has come to that conclusion,” Norris said.

Norris was also interviewed for an article in The Diamondback on the state legislature taking a very different look next year after Gov. O’Malley’s term comes to an end and with 25 percent of the legislature changing. Norris said the state leadership system will be an important factor next year.

“As long as that structure remains in place, losing or changing 20, 30, even 40 delegates and senators doesn’t actually change the operation of those houses,” Norris said.

Norris was also interviewed for an article in the Baltimore Jewish Times about a Maryland legislative session recap. The complete article can be found here.

To read the full article in The Washington Post, click here. For the complete article in The Diamondback, click here.

John Rennie Short, Public Policy, on Writer’s Voice

John Rennie ShortAs part of Environment Month at Writer’s Voice, a national radio show and podcast featuring author interviews, readings, and reviews, Public Policy Professor John Rennie Short was interviewed about his recent book, Stress Testing the USA (Palgrave MacMillan). In his book, Short applies the stress test concept to four major events the United States experienced at the start of the 21st century: the invasion of Iraq, the financial meltdown, Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.

“These four major events are the equivalent of an incredible cardiovascular workout for the United States where you saw things that didn’t work so well. When everything is going along well, there is economic growth, and things are progressing and everyone is happy, the system is self-justified,” Short said.

“But when things go wrong, that’s when it reveals things that often we don’t want to discuss or are hidden below the surface,” he added.

To listen to the full interview on Writer’s Voice, click here. The interview was scheduled to air on Writer’s Voice broadcast stations across the country throughout the week of April 7.

Justin Vélez-Hagan, Public Policy, Op-Ed in Fox News Latino

In an op-ed on the Puerto Rican debt crisis published March 20 in Fox News LatinoPublic Policy Ph.D. student Justin Vélez-Hagan argues default will be inevitable as a more than $1 billion deficit is expected to round out the current fiscal year. Vélez-Hagan is also executive director of the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce.

“Puerto Rico’s well-known dependency on credit first made public waves when every credit-rating agency gave Puerto Rico a vote of no confidence last month, citing major liquidity concerns as the biggest culprit for the downgrades,” Vélez-Hagan writes.

To dig itself out of the debt crisis, Vélez-Hagan adds: “[Puerto Rico] has to shed its fat by yanking off the fiscal Band-Aid and restructuring its debt. Speculators will suffer the most, and may have the loudest complaints, but after the initial shock Puerto Rico will finally have the chance to break its cycle of deficit-spending and will only then have another opportunity to make the right decisions that ensure long-term economic prosperity.”

You can read the full column in Fox News Latino here.

Donald Norris, Public Policy, in The Baltimore Sun

The 2014 campaign for Maryland governor is intensifying, and candidates in both parties are moving forward with proposals on taxes and spending as Election Day nears in November.

Donald Norris UMBC

Public Policy Professor and Chair Donald Norris was interviewed for an article published March 14 in The Baltimore Sun about the race for governor and the various education expansion and tax cut proposals from candidates on both sides.

“This is campaigning as usual,” Norris said. “Promise, promise, promise in order to win as many votes as you can on these promises — and then worry about it when you get in office.”

To read the full article titled “Candidates make many promises — but how to pay for them?” in The Baltimore Sunclick here.

Dave Marcotte, Public Policy, on The Kojo Nnamdi Show

Monday’s winter storm forced school systems across the region to cancel school for yet another day, adding to what were already high snow day totals for many. With classroom instruction disrupted again, WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show decided to look into the question of “the snow day effect” and how it can impact classroom performance.

Dave Marcotte

Public Policy Professor and Graduate Program Director Dave Marcotte was a guest on Monday’s show and discussed a multi-year study he conducted to look into winter weather’s impact on schools in several states. One of the key findings was that a week’s worth of snow days reduced the number of students who passed state math assessments by as much as two percent.

“Math is a skill that is most exclusively learned in school,” Marcotte said. “So kids who are staying home today are probably reading books, Harry Potter or something else, but probably none of them are doing math right now. So taking them out of the classroom is really where you can have an effect on that subject in particular.”

Marcotte also discussed how the relationship between snow days and classroom performance can be complicated because adding school days onto the end of the year to make up for lost time isn’t necessarily a solution. 

“We don’t really know the extent to which that is going to help solve the problem. As teachers and parents likely know, time in June in the classroom is very different than time in February. So how to solve the problem is not obvious,” Marcotte added. 

Marcotte was a guest on the program along with Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools Joshua Starr. You can listen to the full discussion on The Kojo Nnamdi Show here.    

Dave Marcotte, Public Policy, in The Atlanta Journal Constitution and Bloomberg Businessweek

Many school districts up and down the East Coast and in the Midwest have been forced to cancel several school days this winter, and some districts in the Northeast have already announced students will forgo part of their spring breaks to make up for lost time.

Dave Marcotte

Public Policy Professor and Graduate Program Director Dave Marcotte was cited in two recent articles in The Atlanta Journal Constitution and Bloomberg Businessweek for a study he did on the impact of winter weather on schools.

“Dave Marcotte, in a 2010 online article for Education Next, found that each additional inch of snow reduced the percentage of third-, fifth-, and eighth-grade students on math assessments by from one-half to seven-tenths of a percentage point,” reads the Bloomberg Businessweek article.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution article cites Marcotte’s research while examining the impact on learning a significant loss of time due to snow days can have on students.

“To put that seemingly small impact in context, Marcotte reports that in winters with average levels of snowfall (about 17 inches) the share of students testing proficient is about 1 to 2 percentage points lower than in winters with little to no snow,” the article stated.

You can read about Marcotte’s research in The Atlanta Journal Constitution here and Bloomberg Businessweek here.

Justin Vélez-Hagan, Public Policy, Op-Ed in Fox News Latino

In an op-ed published February 17 in Fox News Latino, Justin Vélez-Hagan, Public Policy Ph.D. student and Executive Director of The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, argues recent policies put forth by Puerto Rico’s government are not the solution for long-term economic growth and development.

Vélez-Hagan writes Puerto Rico’s “Jobs Now Act” was intended to grow the economy by offering tax exemptions and credits along with incentives for hiring underemployed groups, but the cost to hire and train new employees far outweighs the benefits of the new policy.

“It’s especially surprising given the latest employment numbers,” writes Vélez-Hagan. “According to the Government Development Bank of Puerto Rico, employment trends have yet to improve. While unemployment actually fell by a full percentage point in 2012, it completely reversed this trend in the first year of this administration, climbing from 14.6 percent to 15.4 percent by December.”

In the column, Vélez-Hagan offers alternative solutions for improving Puerto Rico’s economy and creating jobs.

“Even if they are finally able to balance their budget, the governor is going to have to push beyond his political limits to focus on incentives for growing businesses in Puerto Rico, such as rolling back the higher tax rates, expanding the incentive for foreign investment, and explicitly targeting companies in high-growth industries for residency in Puerto Rico,” he adds.

You can read the full article titled “Puerto Rico Still Doesn’t Get What Makes an Economy Tick” on Fox News Latino’s website here.

Donald Norris, Public Policy, in The Washington Times

A recent article in The Washington Times reviews states that have experienced glitches after rolling out health exchange websites as part of the Affordable Care Act. The article mentions the Maryland website which experienced software defects, causing state officials to offer retroactive coverage to users who couldn’t purchase plans in time for the start of the new year.

Donald Norris UMBC

In the article, Public Policy Professor and Chair Donald Norris offered insight into how the health exchange website problems could affect the upcoming Democratic primary in the race for governor. He said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown will likely win despite being the target of criticism for the website’s problems.

“If he does win and the website continues to have problems the GOP nominee, whoever that is, will certainly use [Obamacare issues] against him, though I can’t imagine that that alone would cause him to lose,” Norris said.

To read the full article in The Washington Times, click here.

Donald Norris, Public Policy, on WYPR

Maryland State Delegate Heather Mizeur is considered a long shot to win the Democratic nomination for governor. But in a story that aired on WYPR Wednesday, February 12, Mizeur said she’s confident given her strong army of volunteers despite running against two candidates with more name recognition and money.

Donald Norris UMBC

Public Policy Professor and Chair Donald Norris was interviewed for the story and commented on Mizeur’s prospects in the race. He said there is no chance she can win because her campaign doesn’t have the finances or statewide recognition to overcome Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Attorney General Douglas Gansler.

“It is impossible in that situation,” Norris said, “going  up against two well known, well-funded candidates for her to win unless both candidates are in a head on collision with each other and they both die.”

You can listen to the full story on WYPR here.