Research

Working Papers:

Legislative Redistricting, Party Politics, and the Spatial Distribution of Transportation Expenditure. I estimate the effect of a state representative’s political party on highway construction funding directed toward the area that she represents. I identify this effect from changes in party affiliation engendered by the 2012 state legislative redistricting in Ohio. Redistricting divided Ohio into 265 areas of intersection between old and new districts. In many cases, redistricting moved an area into a district whose incumbent representative belonged to the opposing political party, producing variation in partisan alignment unrelated to potentially endogenous election outcomes. From 2010-2017 the Republican party controlled the Ohio House of Representatives, the Ohio Senate, and the governorship. I find that areas moving from a Republican to a Democratic district during the redistricting year received $3.5 million (0.19 standard deviations) less in annual highway construction funding, relative to areas that stayed in a Republican district. The funding decrease derives from a decline in the number of large construction projects in areas that moved from Republican to Democratic districts. Finally, I compare estimates identified using redistricting variation to estimates identified using variation through elections. I find that the coefficient estimates differ, and interpret this as evidence that selection issues affect which districts will change parties through election outcomes.

 

Abstract: I estimate the change in municipal revenue, tax rates, expenditure, and debt after reported mass layoffs in Ohio. Income tax base and revenue both decrease in the year after a mass layoff, driving a decline in total municipal revenue that persists for several years. The decline in revenue is exacerbated by declining property tax rates. Municipalities cut general government and public safety expenditures; total expenditure decreases, but quickly recovers. I consider the expenditure decisions of cities in greater detail, as well as their debt strategy. In addition to public security expenditure and general government, municipalities undertake substantially less capital expenditure after a mass layoff. Cities also increase their outstanding debt, avoiding deeper cuts to capital outlays without raising taxes.

 

Ballot Order, Ballot Roll-Off, and Election Outcomes: Evidence from Local Referenda in Ohio (with Mike Conlin and Paul Thompson).
Abstract: According to Ohio law, the ballot order of local referenda rotates annually, based on the level of administrative division in which these referenda are contested. This provides a source of variation in ballot ordering of referenda that is exogenous to unobservable characteristics of referenda and the administrative divisions in which they take place. We construct a dataset of tax and bond referenda contested between 2000 and 2012 that includes counts of yes and no votes, as well as counts of the number of voters who cast ballots as residents of the administrative division in which any referendum was contested. Using this data, we estimate the effect of a referendum’s ballot ranking on the likelihood that voters at the ballot box will abstain from casting a yes or no vote on that referendum. We also consider the effect of ballot position on the likelihood that a particular referendum passes on votes.