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Wildfires: Burning Through State Budgets

November 30, 2022

Wildfires in the United States have become more catastrophic and expensive in recent years, with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service nearly doubling their combined spending on wildfire management in the last decade. Wildfire management consists of preparing for, fighting, recovering from, and reducing the risk of fires. To execute these activities, states, localities, the federal government, and Tribes, as well as nongovernment entities such as nonprofit organizations and private property owners, participate in a complex system of responsibilities and funding dictated by land ownership and an interconnected set of cooperative agreements.As more frequent and severe fires drive up public spending, policymakers at all levels of government are faced with decisions about how to pay for the diverse array of interventions required to deal with them. In recent years, the federal government has enacted budgeting policies to ensure money is available for fire suppression—efforts to extinguish or manage the path of fires—as well as mitigation activities that could help make future fires less severe. State governments operate under various resource constraints, levels of fire risk, and organizational approaches to wildfire management, but unlike the federal government, they must balance their spending and revenue every budget cycle. Local governments, although not the focus of this study, also face significant challenges meeting wildfire expenses and navigating the direct impacts of fires on communities.A small body of research about the state role in paying for and budgeting for wildfire activities has emerged in recent years, but a lack of data and information persists. The Pew Charitable Trusts undertook this study to improve the available data and understanding of the impact of wildfire spending on state fiscal policy. To do so, Pew researchers examined the intergovernmental system involved in paying for wildfire management to bring the state role into focus. Pew then identified current state-level approaches to budgeting for the entire range of wildfire management activities, the pressures facing states as they face growing risks and spending on wildfires, and potentially promising practices for alleviating these pressures. For further details about this study, see methodology.In addition to an extensive review of existing research and publicly available data, Pew researchers completed 18 semi-structured interviews between December 2021 and July 2022 with wildfire and budgeting experts in six states—Alaska, California, Florida, Nevada, Texas, and Washington—as well as the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Wildland Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Congressional Research Service, and the National Association of State Foresters (NASF). States were selected based on a combination of high number of fires, acres burned, and geographical and regional variation.

To Overcome Challenges to Evidence-Based Policymaking, States Need Outside Help

September 12, 2022

Over the past decade, states have increasingly relied on evidence to help ensure that relevant data informs their budget and policy decisions. But states still encounter significant barriers to embedding evidence in government decision-making processes, in part due to capacity constraints. To identify ways that other entities can help states overcome these issues, the Results First initiative gathered input from philanthropies, research and policy organizations, associations for public officials, and state government staff members. The resulting report details the types of support that state governments need as they work toward more consistent use of evidence, particularly through their budget offices, and the ways nongovernmental entities can help address capacity concerns.What emerged from this research are three key challenges facing states' evidence-based policymaking efforts as well as some potential solutions.

How Nongovernmental Stakeholders Can Support States in Advancing Evidence-Based Policymaking

September 12, 2022

Evidence-based policymaking has helped many states across the country ensure that their budget and policy decisions are informed by the best available data. Yet, even for those states that have made significant progress using this approach, barriers remain to institutionalizing its use. By ensuring that the creation and use of evidence becomes embedded in the way state governments make decisions, leaders and policymakers can better serve their populations effectively and equitably.This report offers guidance on ways that nongovernment stakeholders can help evolve states' progress by addressing persistent challenges to the routine use of evidence.

Philadelphia 2022: The State of the City

April 20, 2022

Two years into the pandemic, Philadelphia is showing signs of an economic and public health recovery, yet some serious challenges remain.

How Cross-Branch Collaboration Helps States Strengthen Evidence-Based Policymaking

March 10, 2022

Over the past decade, The Pew Results First initiative has worked with 27 states to implement an innovative evidence-based policymaking approach that helps them to invest in policies and programs that are proved to work—ensuring that states moved over $1.1 billion toward more effective services. Although many states have made important gains in evidence-based policymaking, sustaining these efforts can be difficult. Turnover among leadership and staff, inadequate staff capacity to generate evidence, lack of political will to use evidence, insufficient buy-in from stakeholders within and outside government, and an absence of formal procedures between the executive and legislative branches can hinder this work.To overcome these challenges and promote the sustainability of their evidence-based policymaking work, leaders across the country have engaged in cross-branch collaboration, a deliberate effort to create or deepen formal partnerships between executive and legislative branch representatives who use evidence to make budget and policy decisions. This helps to ensure that policymakers in these branches routinely prioritize evidence in the budget process, establish a shared commitment to and ownership of this work across government, and build an ingrained culture of evidence use throughout the decision-making process.Results First has identified three strategies for improved cross-branch collaboration: 1. incorporating collaboration into law; 2. developing diverse advisory groups; and 3. establishing shared tools and processes. Informed by an online review of cross-branch efforts and 30 interviews with executive and legislative branch decision-makers (including legislators and staff, executive agency leaders and staff, and gubernatorial appointees), this issue brief provides a detailed look at how five states (Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, and North Carolina) have implemented the three strategies outlined above, including the challenges they faced and insights they gained.The brief can serve as a resource for policymakers who are looking to advance and sustain the use of evidence in state government through cross-branch collaboration. Although all three branches of state governments perform important and distinct roles in determining and executing policy, this brief will focus only on collaborative efforts between the executive and legislative branches because they are routinely involved in overseeing the state's budget development and implementation.

Lessons From Implementation of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy

March 22, 2021

Under the European Union's current Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), 2020 had been targeted as the year toachieve a major change in fisheries management: sustainable exploitation rates in place for all stocks. Despiteprogress, the EU did not meet this goal.The story of the policy's implementation begins in 2013, when, after decades of overfishing and ineffectivefisheries management, the European Parliament and the EU's then-28 member state governments agreed onfar-reaching reforms to the previous CFP.1 These included setting sustainable catch limits with the objective torestore stocks, maintain healthy ecosystems and safeguard stable, profitable fisheries for the EU fleet. In 2014,the reformed CFP entered into force, with a focus on bringing fishing pressure in line with scientific advice. Thepolicy required fisheries ministers to ensure sustainable exploitation rates "by 2015 where possible and on aprogressive, incremental basis at the latest by 2020 for all stocks."Now, after the 2020 deadline has passed, it's clear that the reforms have brought progress. But the data alsoshows that policymakers are still setting too many catch limits above the levels recommended by scientists, withdecision-making suffering from a short-term approach and lower ambition than the policy requires.In 2008, The Pew Charitable Trusts began working with 192 organisations in the OCEAN2012 coalition to ensurethat a reformed CFP set ambitious, science-based and achievable objectives. In the years since the reforms cameinto force, Pew and several other groups have pushed to hold decision-makers accountable in the efforts to endoverfishing in North-Western European waters and allow stocks to recover to healthy, productive levels.This report presents eight key lessons learned from this work to help implement the EU's fisheries policy, eachlesson augmented by a deeper look at a specific issue. The experiences in implementing the EU policy show that:1. Good management works.As the experience of fisheries managers around the world has shown, when steps are taken to safeguardthe sustainability of stocks and fisheries for the long term, the results include environmental, economicand social benefits.2. Decreased ambition since 2013 led to under-implementation.Decision-makers approached implementation of most major pillars of the CFP pragmatically, toooften showing less political will than needed to deliver the reforms as intended. This led to diminishedexpectations from stakeholders and EU institutions on what could be delivered, almost from the beginning.3. Decisions often favoured maintaining the status quo rather than changing behaviour.Despite ambitious CFP goals intended to change outcomes in the water, decision-makers often adjustedmanagement measures to fit existing patterns of fishing – to the detriment of achieving the objectives.4. EU decision-making remains siloed.Fisheries policy processes often follow their own internal logic, so a focus on fisheries yields and economicoutcomes may overlook other priorities, such as the urgent need to deliver on wider EU environmentalrequirements and commitments.5. Short-term thinking persists in EU management.A long-term perspective – one of the key aims of the 2014 CFP – often took a back seat to immediatepolitical expediency. For example, fisheries ministers continued to set excessive catch limits on the basisthat they were a "compromise" between short- and long-term aims or were necessary for unexplainedeconomic reasons. 6. Clarity on progress is too often undermined by unclear and inconsistent reporting.Rather than measuring progress against the aims of the CFP, official reporting often uses irrelevant orchanging benchmarks, such as trend comparisons, which frequently do not correspond to the CFP's legalobjectives. This confuses the public about the policy's progress and leads stakeholders to draw differentconclusions on priorities.7. Opaque decision-making hampers progress.A lack of public communication on the scientific basis for European Commission proposals onmanagement measures such as catch limits, and the rationale for legislators' subsequent decisions, toooften prevented scrutiny of decision-making by stakeholders and EU institutions, and undermined trust inthe process.8. Stocks shared with non-EU countries present challenges in achieving CFP aims.Jointly managed stocks require more complex decision-making than stocks that are managed by oneentity. That increases the need for collaborative improvements, especially in the wake of the UK'sdeparture from the EU.To realise the ambitions set by legislators in 2013, EU policymakers need to take the final steps to implementthe CFP in full. The health of marine ecosystems, European fisheries, and the communities that depend on themrequire the sustainable, ecosystem-based management approaches set out in the policy, without exceptions andloopholes. The findings in this review of progress can help guide decision-makers and stakeholders on the workthat remains to fully implement the CFP, and in shaping future priorities for European fisheries. 

Reflecting Community Priorities in Economic Development Practices

January 4, 2021

Economic development that is equitable, inclusive,and outcome-driven for residents begins byprioritizing community engagement and clearlylinking that engagement to actionable initiativeswith measurable results. 

A Path to Creating the First Generation of High Seas Protected Areas

March 31, 2020

Beyond the horizon, more than 200 nautical miles from shore, lies an area of the ocean known as the high seas. These waters, beyond the jurisdiction of any nation, make up roughly two-thirds of the ocean and cover nearly half of the planet's surface. Much is still to be learned about these areas, but scientists know they teem with life and are among the largest reservoirs of ocean biodiversity. The high seas support abundant fisheries; provide habitat and migratory routes for whales, sharks, sea turtles, and seabirds; and harbor remarkable ecosystems, such as deep-water corals and other majestic marine life.

How States Are Expanding Broadband Access

February 1, 2020

This report from the Pew Charitable Trusts highlights practices for state programs aimed at expanding broadband access to un- and underserved areas.Based on interviews with more than three hundred representatives of state broadband programs, Internet service providers, local governments, and broadband coalitions, the report identified five promising and mutually reinforcing practices: stakeholder outreach and engagement at both the state and local levels; a policy framework with well-defined goals that connects broadband to other policy priorities; planning and capacity building in support of broadband infrastructure projects; funding and operations through grant programs, with an emphasis on accountability and data collection; and program evaluation and evolution to ensure that lessons learned inform the next iteration of goals and activities. The study explores how nine states — California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin — have adapted and implemented different combinations of those practices to close gaps in broadband access.

Transshipment in the Western and Central Pacific

September 12, 2019

The transshipment of catch, which allows fresh fish to get to market sooner, is a vital but largely hidden part of the global commercial fishing industry. Transshipment involves hundreds of refrigerated cargo vessels, or carrier vessels, roaming the oceans, taking in catch from thousands of fishing vessels and transporting it to shore for processing. While transshipment touches a wide range of seafood products, most is made up of bigeye, yellowfin, and skipjack tuna. Salmon, mackerel, and crab also account for a substantial portion of transshipped products.

Data Sharing Helps Reduce Number of Homeless Veterans

April 1, 2017

Virginia's information analysis assists in determining needs, managing resources.

A Sample Dental Therapy Curriculum for Community Colleges

March 3, 2017

This report, developed in partnership with Community Catalyst, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Association of Community Colleges, provides a rationale for why community colleges are well-positioned to educate students to become dental therapists and a model dental therapy curriculum that community colleges may use to begin developing their own dental therapy educational programs.