Announcement

MPP First-Year Students Begin Summer Internships

This summer, eleven MPP students will take the skills learned in the first year of the Michigan State University Master of Public Policy program and apply them to summer internships. The students will be interning all over the world, including Detroit, Washington, D.C., China, and Africa. Internship sites include United States Department of Commerce, Governmental Consultant Services, ITC Holdings, the Citizens Research Council, Community Development Advocates of Detroit, the City of Detroit, and YouThink. Throughout the summer, our student interns will be profiled on their experiences and what they’ve learned through their internship. Good luck to our students!

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Faculty/Instructor Profiles

Faculty Profile: Professor Ronald Fisher – Expertise in Public Finance

fisherMaster of Public Policy faculty Professor Ronald Fisher has had a distinguished career during his time at Michigan State University. His professional highlights include serving as Dean of MSU’s Honors College, Chairperson of the Department of Economics, Deputy Treasurer for the State of Michigan, and as a Visiting Professor and Fellow at a number of universities and institutions in the United States and abroad. He has traveled extensively and given many presentations to share his expertise in economics, particularly government finance issues.

He has also received a number of awards, including the 2014 Stephen D. Gold Award from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. This award recognizes outstanding achievements through contributions to “public financial management in the field of intergovernmental relations and state and local finance.”

Professor Fisher earned his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry with high honors from Michigan State and his PhD in Economics from Brown University. His textbook State and Local Public Finance is highly regarded and used in universities across the country.

He has taught numerous courses at Michigan State. He notes, “Each class is unique because of the different set of students in that class. It is the students (rather than the course, location, time, [or] semester) that make it a favorite.”

His research has frequently focused on state and local government debt, government borrowing and infrastructure investment, and the effect of perceptions of government financial information on attitudes and behavior.

His recent article with Robert W. Wassmer, “Does Perception of Gas Tax Paid Influence Support for Funding Highway Improvements?” in Public Finance Review (2016) addressed these three issues. Fisher and Wassmer found that likely voters in both Michigan and California consistently overestimate the gasoline tax and that this affects their support for highway infrastructure investment. They recommended that proponents of investment proposals address voter misconceptions, which are a common problem for policymakers working in public finance.

Other major challenges he observes in public finance are determining suitable and effective funding systems for elementary and secondary education, achieving sufficient revenue generation at both the state and local level, and encouraging infrastructure investment. Last year, he highlighted the importance of appropriate infrastructure investment in a Detroit Free Press article addressing the role lack of such funding played in the Flint water crisis.

Professor Fisher advises public policy students to determine what their goals are and take the time to design an effective plan to reach these objectives.

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Hire An MPP, Student Profiles

Hire An MPP: James-Michael Laney

jameshmppMany of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students will be graduating this May. They have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion that will allow them to put the skills they’ve acquired to good use. We’re posting profiles of all our soon-to-be graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!

Name: James-Michael Laney

Ideal Job Location: Lansing; Mid-Michigan

Ideal Job: “After graduation, I would like to work in a consulting role for nonprofit organizations that interact with state or local government agencies,” James says. He is also considering using his skills and experiences to become a policy analyst.

Eventually, James would like to run for elected office or start his own organization. In any role, he hopes to use the analytical abilities and policy knowledge he has learned in the MPP program to teach others and improve policymaking.

Work Experience: In the summer of 2016, James participated in the InnovateGov internship program. As an intern for the Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans & Community Wellness, he led a project to design and implement a program to improve service delivery and promote residents’ social, mental, and physical well-being. His research was important to the development of a business plan, which he and his fellow interns presented to the department’s director. Their plan included recommendations and suggestions that will assist the county in its ongoing efforts to address wellness issues.

James’s experience inspired him to explore this topic further for his MPP capstone project, for which he examined the program’s design and progress and proposed improvements.

James has also learned policy skills and gained legislative experience as an intern for the Michigan House of Representatives.

Academic Training: During his time in the MPP program, James completed the three-course series in Quantitative Methods.

“I learned how to apply different econometric tools and identify significant patterns in datasets of information.”

Additional courses of interest were State and Local Finance and Public Management; both sections of the 891 policy topics series. These courses helped James learn important concepts that have significant impacts on decision-making and policy implementation. He also explored courses related to the policy program during Grant Writing and Fund Development.

James was originally inspired to study public policy because he wanted to understand how to empower citizens in ways that can affect change. His own observations of politics and policy during his time in his biomathematics undergraduate program prompted him to explore a diverse range of related issues. He also credits the novels of Frank Herbert with inspiring him to think about the long-term importance of policies and the influence of the nature and the environment on the formation of societies and political power.

James’s appreciation for the interconnectedness of policy issues will serve him well in any position he holds. Because of this he seeks opportunities that will lead to more.

James concludes, “I want to always work in a role that allows me to learn and share what I’ve learned with others.”

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Hire An MPP, Student Profiles

Hire An MPP: Hui Huang

Many of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students will be graduating this May. They have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion that will allow them to put the skills they’ve acquired to good use. We’re posting profiles of all our soon-to-be graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!

huiName: Hui Huang

Ideal Job Location: Michigan; United States

Ideal Job: Hui Huang has flexible skills and is open to policy and data analysis work on many subjects. Her main interest, however, is in immigration and international education policy. She has had the opportunity to work on these issues at Michigan State University, which has given her a solid background in understanding how policy affects the lives of everyday people. She has also developed a strong interest in parental leave policies.

Hui’s skills in data collection, her understanding of sound research methods, and her ability to combine concern for the public with objective research and analytical skills will make her an asset to any organization.

She would most like to work in government, with an NGO, or at an institute of higher education.

Work Experience: Hui has engaged in several internships and jobs during her time in the MPP program.

She worked as a policy intern for the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness and also served as a Research Assistant for the Chinese International Students Research Group. These experiences gave her insight into diverse state, local, and international policy issues.

Currently, Hui works as a student assistant in Michigan State University’s WorkLife Office. In this role, she researches paid parental leave policies and performs essential data collection work for members of the Association of American Universities.

“Paid parental leave policy is an important topic which will need more attention in the future,” she notes.

Skills and Academic Training: “The MPP program is a great program to help us prepare for a career,” Hui says. She has completed all three courses in Quantitative Methods, which provide training in data analysis and statistical software. She also notes that the PPL 891 special topics courses, performance management and social policies, taught her important critical thinking skills.

“Public policy will make society better and it’s meaningful for me to change something in the world,” Hui says. In her future career, she plans to make a difference by applying her skills to critical policy issues. Her commitment and abilities will allow her to perform well in a variety of policy positions and organizations.

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MPP Speaker Series

MPP Students Learn About Public Budgeting, Engagement From Experienced Practitioners

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Linda Teeter

Last Thursday, Master of Public Policy students attended a presentation by Rebecca Fleury, City Manager of Battle Creek, and Linda Teeter, Executive Director of Michigan Citizen Action. Both Fleury and Teeter have extensive experience in Michigan government at multiple levels. They shared their collective experiences and insights with a special focus on the importance of public budgeting.

Throughout her presentation, Fleury emphasized how budgeting and financial issues

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Rebecca Fleury

underpin nearly all public decisions. Public finance affects all levels and types of policymaking. Financial information usually plays a key role in determining what policies are adopted and if and how they can be implemented.

As Fleury and Teeter noted, the resources available to local governments have been particularly strained in recent years. This presents a challenge to local officials as well as citizens. Both Fleury and Teeter work to increase public awareness of the budgeting and decision-making process.

fleuryteeter1Fleury considers providing relevant and accurate budgetary information to public officials one of her most important responsibilities. Although it takes place behind the scenes, this work is vital to the success of any government project.

In Battle Creek, Fleury’s financial team updates elected officials on a quarterly basis. This helps the team avoid surprises. By finding out about significant changes in earlier quarters of the year, officials and staff can better plan for future needs and make important changes. Major activities include revenue forecasting and legacy cost planning.

As an example, Fleury explained that she and her staff had determined not to presume reimbursement from the state for the loss of the personal property tax when planning the city budget. As it turned out, the City did receive reimbursement, but by not counting on this money, it was in a better financial position. She noted that planning like this involves a lot of strategic decision-making. Planning for future decisions by means of methods like reserve funding for capital investments is essential. It can also mean increasing reliance on revenue streams like the income tax.

Fleury noted that expenses related to personnel take up the biggest portion of any local budget. This is especially true for police and fire. Staffing and union negotiations are especially significant in determining local expenses.Picture1.jpg

Following Fleury’s presentation, Linda Teeter emphasized to students the importance of being involved in their communities, particularly at the local government level. However, she also emphasized the importance of being aware of state and national policies. She noted there is a great need for engagement, especially among young people.

Teeter explained how attendance at a local government meeting at first inspired her to get involved. Since then, she has worked as a Legislative Aide in the Michigan House, served three terms as a City Commissioner for Kalamazoo, and has lent her expertise to getting the public more involved in policy through MCA.

Together, Fleury and Teeter made a strong case for the importance of public finance and citizen involvement in government.

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Hire An MPP, Student Profiles

Hire An MPP: Chunyu Guo

Many of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students will be graduating this May. They have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion that will allow them to put the skills they’ve acquired to good use. We’re posting profiles of all our soon-to-be graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!

chunyu

Name: Chunyu Guo

Ideal Job Location: United States

Ideal Job: Chunyu has a passionate interest in the environment and natural resources management. She plans to work in policy evaluation in the public sector or for a non-profit organization. Her ultimate career goal is to earn an executive position in an international environmental management and cooperation program.

Work Experience: For the past two semesters, Chunyu has been engaged in an internship at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). This internship has allowed her to explore numerous environmental policy issues in Michigan, from water sampling in Flint to brownfield redevelopment along the Detroit riverfront to understanding mercury pollution trends.

“These experiences have not only given me a greater understanding of practical policy implementation and internal government operations, but also make use of my knowledge in policy analysis,” she says.

This internship and work with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources inspired her capstone project, an analysis of recreational passport sales that has important implications for Michigan’s state park funding system.

Skills and Academic Training: As Chunyu notes, the MPP program gives students systematic training in policy analysis and evaluation. She has completed three policy- focused courses in Quantitative Methods and also elected to take rigorous courses in cost-benefit analysis and natural resource economics.

Her favorite courses include Policy Evaluation and Policy Development and Administration. As she puts it, “My eyes have been not only widely but also deeply opened by seeing policy issues in different areas.”

“I regard public policy as a trigger to balance the relationship between our nature and society. Sometimes our society cannot achieve the goals of economic development and healthy nature at the same time. I was born in a place where I’ve seen dramatic development, but meanwhile its environment deteriorated across the years.”

Chunyu shares, “To study in the program of Public Policy has not only enriched my knowledge in policy analysis, but also trained me with a critical and creative thinking structure when looking into different kinds of policy issues. I hope to devote myself to building up a better connection between people and nature in the future.”

Chunyu is well-prepared to take on the challenges of policy analysis and implementation.

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MPP Speaker Series

MEC Policy Director James Clift Shares Insights on Energy and Policymaking

jamescliftLast Tuesday, the MPP Speaker Series featured James Clift, Policy Director for the Michigan Environmental Council. The MEC is a nonpartisan coalition of organizations that have an interest in influencing environmental policy in Michigan. Its members are diverse and represent a broad range of groups and associations.

Mr. Clift has spent 18 years at the MEC and has also worked as a lawyer, university instructor, and as a policy director at the Michigan Senate. He originally studied Business Administration and later graduated from Wayne State University with a law degree. His career illustrates the many different paths that lead individuals to policy work.

Among other activities, the MEC and Clift educate legislators about environmental and energy policy issues. They also keep track of passed legislation and administrative rules to ensure that they are being implemented as intended.

As Clift explained, the Michigan Environmental Council has cultivated a reputation for pragmatism, nonpartisanship, and solution-oriented work. He emphasized to students the value of building relationships with many people, particularly across party lines.

Earlier in the day, for example, Clift had given a presentation on energy issues to the Michigan House Energy Committee. Activities like this are an important of the MEC’s work. Clift noted that policymakers and others involved in industry and political decisions come from a variety of backgrounds. As a result, he explained, it is important to be able to listen to different perspectives and understand how they think about issues.

The energy industry is changing rapidly and involves many challenges as well as opportunities. As Policy Director, Clift makes it a priority to emphasize shared goals to his audience.jamesclift2

Three of the MEC’s major interests are protecting ratepayers, environmental protection, and securing a strong energy economy. Clift sees renewable energy as a way to both achieve environmental health and reduce costs to Michigan’s citizens. He explained that new technology, like advanced meters, can give more control to consumers while also benefiting the company and the state as a whole. This proposal involves a range of policy matters that MPP students have studied, including economic practices, policy trade-offs, and program evaluation.

Clift pointed to waste reduction as another way to reduce harm to the environment. He described how those working in any policy field may need to wait for the right political timing and work on getting public support in order to have their ideas heard. Given their limited resources, he said, organizations must choose what to spend their time on carefully. At times, it may be  easier to try to do things through the executive branch administratively under current law  than trying to get new policy adopted by the legislature.

He also noted that in Michigan it is very beneficial to relate issues to the health of the Great Lakes given their near universal importance and the concern the public and legislators have with preserving them.

Clift’s presentation was an interesting look at how those working with legislators can approach their work both at the Capitol and around the state. His expertise in this area gave the students valuable information about the workings of the energy and environmental policy fields.

The Michigan Environmental Council offers internships throughout the year. Interested students should visit their website at http://www.environmentalcouncil.org/.

 

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