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The Role of Policy Making and Planning Culture for Sustainable Transport

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Sustainability in Transportation Planning

Sustainability in Transportation Planning

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The Role of Policy Making and Planning Culture for Sustainable Transport

Despite the fact that in some locations and communities culture plays a very little part in policy formulation, in other communities, it is a key factor that has to be evaluated before formulating any policies. Values, perceptions, and culture, are changeable and as a result, the process of creating and formulating policies change with time and in extreme cases, the already existing and implemented policies have to change due to the changes in the culture of society.  Since there are different cultures around the globe, there are different policies on the same concept and idea. Some people believe that culture has a significant contribution to the dynamics process of policy making (Levy, 2013). This paper attempts to explore the conceptualization, challenges and potential pathways provided by culture-based approach regarding policy making and planning process in the attempt to solve transport problems.

When a transport policy making and planning process is entirely based on the culture of a certain community, a group of actors dealing with the process may experience value-action gap.  This gap usually affects the probability of making or achieving a more sustainable transportation. Understanding one’s culture is paramount in recognizing and developing understanding the culture aspects especially when it comes to transportation policies. In addition, the value-action created in transport and environment works best when integrated with professional aspects and concepts.  Cultural aspects can widely be identified in relation to transportation both within and outside and outside planning.  With this current new era planning and planners, in general, should embrace the complexity and facilitate interaction of actors and other individuals in various levels and networks of life in the attempt to increase the identity and quality of transportation facilities.

One of the theories that have been put forth by the author in his attempt to explain his concept is the theory of policy processes and cultural aspects.  This theory explains that policy making process has been dealing with conflicting perceptions, interests and issues from different parties for decades. According to the author, increased attention to environmental issues has significantly affected policy making processes over the last few years, and more awareness of the environmental rights and issues pose more and more problems with policy making.  A policy discourse is not only affected by the language used to formulate the policy, but values, norms, and beliefs also affect the policy making process. In normal circumstances, policy discourses operate in three grades: at the surface level of discussion, at the level of a system meaning and at deeper cultural levels meanings (Jeon, 2008). By studying discourses in formulating policies, it becomes clear to policy formulators the differences between the actors involved, their difference in problem formulation, conflict of interests, their institutional basis, and underlying values.  Due to the ever dynamic nature of culture, it is important for actors, facilitators, and planners to use it in the policy formation process.

Due to cultural biases and differences in how people perceive the same thing the process may take longer than expected on some occasions. However, despite the fact that the author has given and shown how cultural aspect affects policy making especially problems associated with transport, he did not give a solution on how to deal with these cultural biases. Moreover, with the rising awareness of environmental issues that may be varied from one geographical area and from one community to another, the author should have given a standard procedure to be followed by communities. A good policy making process should take into account the values and beliefs of the host community as a well as all the actors. However, at the same time, the policy should be common to all members of the communities to avoid conflicts and misunderstanding. Values are so sensitive to specific situations and events in the policy process and can be disruptive if not taken good care of. For these two to work together, they have to find a way to for them to interplay to form a discursive relationship that might affect cognitive patterns. Culture must be viewed in terms of shared set by the group, organizations, and communities for it to work appropriately in policy making processes.

Integration of Sustainability Issues In Strategic Transportation Planning: A Multi-Criteria Model For the Assessment of Transportation Infrastructure Plans.

Despite significances advances in the transportation industry that has been brought about by advances in computational algorithms and development in technology, there lacks a commonly accepted model integrating sustainability in strategic planning level.  People all over the world have enjoyed the benefits of this advancement yet strategic planning level of transportation such as the transportation infrastructure plan level is still misunderstood by many. This misconception can all be traced back to when there was an inclusion of transport sustainability issues that diverted to strategic policy goals such network efficiency. Additionally, increased importance is given to consensus building, transparency and communication and high relevant of the political component inherent in the assessment of transportation plans also contributed to this misconception (Nichols, 2009). Due to this misconception, there is the need to create and develop methodological that relates transportation infrastructure plans with strategic sustainability effects.

In the last few decades, there has been a debate going on in the strategic transport infrastructure planning field on sustainable development concept.   This sustainability revolves around and attempts to find a solution to transport sustainability issues.  Despite sustainability development to have emerged in the 1980s, there is no standard evaluation to measure this sustainability due to difficulties in defining the targets and indicators to measure. However, the author has proposed assessment models such as Geographical Information System and multi-criteria model and he feels can help solve this problem of transport sustainability.

The author has managed to use the theory of geographical information system to explain how his ideas can work effectively. The model integrates three models and dimensions of sustainability into one. This assessment model analyzes alternatives for the development of transportation infrastructure plan. For the geographical information system model to work there is the need to interplay both transport and accessibility models. First things first, the models required for the identification of strategic policy objectives that constitutes the main rules, regulations and guidelines of assessment criteria.  The first step is directly followed by the definition of the alternatives to be assessed which are deemed to be necessary for the models to project the effects of the transport projects in question. The actors in this process need identify and localize the areas they want to work on.  Moreover, there is the need to obtain information on the transport system and socioeconomic status of the area of interest before the commencement of work.

Despite the author having clearly outlined his model and steps to be followed to ensure there is the sustainability of transport, there are some shortcomings of his proposal. In this case, the author talks of identification of alternatives that should be used for the assessment of sustainability. However, he did not give the criterion for choosing these alternatives and neither did he give the measurement of sustainability (Amekudzi, 2009). A scholar who wants to use the author model may find it difficult to identify the alternatives since there is no clear method to follow and may choose alternatives that may not be viable to the current situation at hand. Moreover, the author did not give the basis or factors to consider when choosing an area of study. Neither did he give the size of a viable area of study considering that a scholar may be interested in a wide and vast area to carry out his or her study. Also, a good study elaborates on how to collect, categorize and analyze collected data. The author only talks about the collection of the transport system and socioeconomic data and information without giving more and more details on how to go about it.

On the other hand, the author has done a good job in describing indicators of performance of transport sustainability that include network efficiency, regional cohesion, cross-border integration and habitat fragmentation (Nichols, 2009). On the same note, he touches on the steps to be followed in the implementation of the assessment model that include a definition of the area of study, implementation of the transport and land use system and calculation of performance indicators and application of the multi-criteria model.

 

References

Amekudzi, A. A. (2009). Using the sustainability footprint model to assess development impacts of transportation systems. . Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 43(4), , 339-348.

Jeon, C. M. (2008). Sustainability assessment at the transportation planning level: Performance measures and indexes. In Transportation Research Board 87th Annual Meeting , 08-1325.

Levy, J. (2013). Contemporary urban planning (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson-Prentice Hall Press.

Nichols, J. G.-P. (2009). Framework for Developing Indicators of Sustainability for Transportation Planning. In Transportation Research Board 88th Annual Meeting , (No. 09-2829).

 

 

 

Capital Budgeting (Public Administration)

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Capital Budgeting (Public Administration)

Capital Budgeting (Public Administration) Sample paper

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Capital budgeting refers to the decision making process in a firm relating to investment in long-lived assets such as new machinery, new plant, replacement of machinery, research development programs and others. Capital budgeting attempts to seek whether investing in the long-term projects will yield any benefits in the long-run. Long-term projects are those that typically take a period of more than one year. Capital budgeting helps in making crucial decisions about whether or not to invest. The decision to invest is weighed against the firm’s retained earnings, equity available, and current liability standings. Capital budgeting is a continuous process since firms occasionally seek for new investment opportunities in the environment. This paper will analyze capital budgeting with regard to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the United States.

Explain how the debt capacity of the U.S. governmental entity is determined

The debt capacity of firms and government entities is critical to creditors. If a firm exceeds its debt capacity, it may suffer financial distress, which may lead to bankruptcy. Lenders may thus be on the losing end in such a scenario. The focus on debt capacity is not the maximum debt that a firm can take, and neither its capital structure. Rather, it aims at establishing the amount of debt a firm can take and be able to repay without experiencing financial distress. In analyzing debt capacity, the cash flow of the firm is analyzed keenly especially with regard to expected cash sources. It is also important to analyze the current needs of the firm within the particular economic environment.

The debt capacity of HUD can be determined by using debt ratios (Wahlen, Bradshaw, & Baginski, 2014). Analysis of debt ratio is used to measure the debt capacity of the entity.  It gives the total long-term debt to total assets or shareholders’ equity as fraction of liabilities in the capital structure of HUD. A high debt ratio indicates that the entity is at a higher risk of failing to repay debt. This also indicates low unused debt capacity in the entity. It is important to take into consideration off-balance-sheet obligations that may have a high impact on the entity’s ability to pay debt, for instance, operating lease commitments which may take a huge share of the entity’s revenues. Net debt is commonly used to assess an entity’s debt capacity. This is the part of debt that is repaid using the entity’s revenues. Common debts of this type includes capital lease debt, limited obligation debt, and general obligation bonds.

The debt capacity of HUD is also determined by analyzing components of cash flows (Wahlen, Bradshaw, & Baginski, 2014). The analysis of cash flows should cover a long duration so that it can reveal the movement of cash even during adverse periods such as recession. An examination of an entity’s cash flows over a period of two or three years can reveal potential cash flow problems in the firm. Cash flows conducted on HUD can be categorized into financial flows, operating cash flows and non-operating cash flows. Operating cash flows gives a clear picture of the sales volume and prices with relation to the future. Financial cash flows analyze the entity’s debt repayment, interest payments, lease rentals and dividend commitments. Non-operating cash flows generally cover working capital changes and capital expenditures.  Cash flow analysis is used to give an accurate overview of HUD’s debt capacity.

Debt capacity is also determined by assessing the value of collateral held by the entity. If for a particular reason the entity lacks adequate cash flows to repay its debt, the lender can assess the value of assets that can secure the loan. For instance, the value of property, inventories, receivables, and plant and equipment can be assessed and used as collateral for debt. Lastly, debt capacity is determined by analyzing contingencies surrounding the entity. If for instance the HUD is facing a major lawsuit with a high likelihood of losing, it might then be labeled as high risk in terms of credit.

Evaluate the effect of refunding or reorganizing existing debt obligations

Debt reorganization occurs when both the debtor and the creditor agree on new bilateral arrangements concerning the terms of debt repayment (Shepherd & Kitili, 2006). Reorganization often tends to favor the debtor. Debt reorganization may take different forms such as debt restructuring, debt conversions, rescheduling, and debt forgiveness. Reorganizing existing debt obligations often gives relief to the debtor since it often involves changing the original terms and conditions that bound the debtor and the creditor. The need for debt reorganization may arise out of the debtor’s liquidity issues. For instance, the debtor may lack adequate cash flows to make periodic debt payments as stipulated under the terms and conditions of the debt. The debtor may also be having sustainability issues where it is realized that he will be unable to meet the debt obligations in future due to one reason or another. A restructuring of the industry may also make it difficult for debt servicing.

As earlier mentioned, debt reorganization may take various forms. In debt forgiveness, a new arrangement is made between the creditor and the debtor whereby the latter is only required to pay a fraction of the entire debt or nothing at all in a situation of total debt cancellation. This may be inclusive of the entire amount of principal owed or part of it, in addition to any accrued interest. In debt forgiveness, a new debt instrument is made indicating the change in terms and conditions. The difference in value between the old debt instrument and the new one is taken as a capital transfer. When the government is the creditor, debt forgiveness results to a reduction in its financial wealth equivalent to the debt forgiveness (Shepherd & Kitili, 2006).

Debt reorganization may also take the form of restructuring. This involves altering one or more of the initial terms and conditions of the debt. This has a number of effects depending on the nature of the new terms. First, it may extend the debt repayment period beyond the original stipulated time. Second, restructuring may alter the original interest, which is often a reduction of the rate. Third, payment of arrears may be rescheduled to a later period. Lastly, restructuring may extend principle repayment grace period. Debt conversion is also common in debt reorganization. In this, the creditor agrees to an equity allocation from the debtor. Debt reorganization may lead to debt prepayments whereby the debtor pays the debt earlier before its maturity date. Debt reorganization can also lead to debt assumption whereby a new debtor agrees to take over the repayment of the debt and accumulated interest (Shepherd & Kitili, 2006).

Analyze various funding alternatives that can be used to support debt obligations

There are number of alternative funding options that HUD can use to support its debt obligation. HUD can acquire funds from local and state governments to support its debt obligations. State and local governments may provide direct funding to HUD to support its debt obligations. These funds can be in form of grants or debt financing with favorable terms and conditions. Many states offer low-interest loans and grants to support various agencies. Funds derived from local and state governments are referred to as local funds. HUD can also acquire alternative funding from the private sector in order to support its debt obligations. Private foundations have programs that allocate funds to community development, education, arts, and other projects. HUD can solicit grants from various national corporations and foundations. In addition, HUD can obtain funds in form of loans from various corporations and foundations at low or zero-interest rates to finance its various projects (“HUD”, 2012).

Real estate organizations can also provide funding alternatives to HUD for supporting its debt obligations. By creating suitable partnerships with other real estate organizations such as land companies, mortgage industry companies, and real investment trusts, HUD can be able to obtain alternative funding at low interest rates. Individual donations can also be a source of alternative funding. Donation may come from other agencies, private entities, local governments, and other sources. Lastly, as a last resort HUD can result to sale of assets and services in order to support its debt obligations. HUD can sell some of its equipment or assets to settle its debt obligations (“HUD”, 2012)

 

References

Lee, R. D., Johnson, R. W., Joyce, P. G. (2008). Public budgeting systems (8th ed.). Sudbury,

MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Shepherd, R. & Kitili, A. (2006). Debt Reorganization. Fourth meeting of the Advisory Expert     Group on National Accounts 30 January – 8 February 2006, Frankfurt. Retrieved from:             http://unstats.un.org/unsd/nationalaccount/AEG/papers/m4DebtReorganization.pdf

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). (2012). Orientation Guide for        New HCAs. Retrieved from:           http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=ohc_hud101070212.pdf

Wahlen, J. M., Bradshaw, M. T., & Baginski, S. P. (2014). Financial reporting, financial             statement analysis, and valuation. Boston: Cengage Learning.

 

Public Policy (Public Administration)

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The City & County of Honolulu’s FY 2017 Operational Budget has been uploaded as a Reference. If not, the direct link is provided in the Assignment.docx. The choice of the U.S. public policy is up to the writer.

Public Policy (Public Administration)

Public Policy (Public Administration) Sample paper

 

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Public policy refers to the various actions taken by the government to achieve various state objectives relating to the health concerns, education matters, morals, and the general wellness of the citizenry (Lee, Johnson, & Joyce, 2008). Public policy thus consists of courses of actions, funding priorities, regulatory measures and laws that help the government achieve its objectives. Public policy decisions reflect the needs and interests of various groups of people and individuals. They are made from the existing laws, legal precedents, and executive decisions and from policy recommendations from individuals or entities. Public policy decisions adopted by the federal government impacts the state as well as the local governments. This paper will analyze cost implication of the U.S. environmental policies to the local government in Honolulu.

The United States Environmental Policy has a number of implications to the local government of Honolulu. The environmental policy was introduced in order to control activities that have significant impacts on the environment across all member states (“ICAP,” 2012). In the face of climate change and global warming, there is need for concrete actions that can help mitigate these emerging challenges.  The major goal of the environmental policy is to safeguard the environment for future generations’ use. This involves protecting the general ecosystem and various habitats such as oceans, forests, lakes protection, bay protection and restoration, and protection of land, water and air from any forms of pollution. Common hazards covered by this policy include air pollution, oil spills, chemical pollution, climate change and other issues of concern. Environmental policy application requires the combined efforts of local, state and federal administrative bodies.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the body charged with developing and implementing programs at the state and local levels that help in adoption of renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, and developing climate change policies (“EPA,” 2015). The Local Climate and Energy Program is one of the programs coordinated by EAP that aids local governments achieve sustainability goals, implement clean energy strategies, and to adopt climate change policies. Local governments are key in helping achieve various environmental goals. First, local governments are instrumental in reducing emission of greenhouse gases through policy formulation. Second, local governments can help reduce air pollution especially from industries. Third, they can help lower energy costs and encourage reliance on clean sources on energy.  Lastly, local governments can help improve the security and reliability of the energy system. In order to accomplish these goals, there is need for careful resource planning especially at the local levels.

One of the most significant impacts of the United States Environmental Policy to the City and County of Honolulu involves water pollution in the Pacific Southwest. In 2010, a comprehensive agreement was reached between the City and County of Honolulu, EPA, the Justice Department, Hawaii Department of Health and among other environmental groups (“EPA,” 2010). The agreement requires Honolulu to upgrade its wastewater collection and treatment system in accordance to the Clean Water Act. This came after lawsuits were filed over ocean water pollution by wastewater from Honolulu’s treatment system. The agreement requires Honolulu to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant by 2024 to at least a secondary treatment level. The entire cost of upgrading the wastewater collection and treatment system is estimated to cost the city $3.5 billion dollars. The project is expected to be complete by 2038. This will prevent raw sewage spillages into the ocean which has had a negative impact to the marine ecosystem.

In accordance with the United States Environmental Policy, the City and County of Honolulu seeks to reduce greenhouse gas production by exploring alternative options especially in the transport sector. Greenhouse gases are largely produced by burning fossil fuels. The transportation sector consumes the largest share of fossil fuels, and thus the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The City and County of Honolulu aims at increasing reliance on renewable and clean sources of energy that have a low carbon footprint. In 2008, Honolulu launched an ambitious program dubbed the Solar Roofs initiative Loan Program that provided developers with zero-interest and low interest loans which could be used to install solar water heating systems. This was a major step in embracing clean energy and helping reduce overreliance on fossil fuels as the major source of energy.

In order to effectively address climate change and pollution issues, the City and County of Honolulu has in the past conducted educational and awareness campaigns on the impacts of climate change (“EPA,” 2010). It is important to educate people of the impacts of climate change so as to prepare them in advance. Planning in advance for the impacts of climate change is of great significance to any community. The City and County of Honolulu also encourages the formation of community stewardship groups. These groups help in implementation of various climate change policies and initiatives. The City and County of Honolulu has also taken active steps to restore natural landscape features such as wetlands, beaches, forests, floodplains, coral reefs, and dunes. Restoration of such features comes at a high cost to the City and County of Honolulu. Other climate change mitigation policies are also costly to implement.

It has become imperative to integrate climate change adaptation guidelines to the city’s plans. These guidelines will assess the impact of climate change in various areas such as coastal areas, agricultural sector, health, education and water resources. Decision-makers in the City and County of Honolulu also find it necessary to concentrate on adaptation to possible sea-level rise on its shorelines and harbor (“ICAP,” 2012). Honolulu’s economy heavily depends on its shoreline, either for tourism or transportation. A sea-level rise may heavily impact on these activities. It is projected that a sea-level rise could make the coastline more susceptible to hurricanes, wave inundation and be at risk of tsunamis. It is projected that the sea levels may rise by about 3 feet during the century. Such a sea-level rise will require adaptation strategies such as relocating vulnerable structures, protection strategies such as shoreline hardening, and accommodation measures such as increasing the ground-floor elevation of structures.

The United States Environmental Policy has a number of effects to the City and County of Honolulu’s operational budget. The benefits of the policy to the City and County of Honolulu’s operational budget is receipt of grants and other emoluments from the federal and state government (“City and County of Honolulu,” 2016). The implementation of the environmental policy will greatly help in maintaining the tourism industry in the City and County of Honolulu. Honolulu greatly depends on the tourism industry as the major source of revenue. By maintaining a clean environment, the city will be able to attract more tourists to the region. Climate change poses great risks especially in Honolulu region. Honolulu must therefore take active steps in addressing climate change and environmental pollution issues. Dependence on alternative sources of energy such as solar will likely reduce the cost of energy and help mitigate climate change in the region.

In the 2017 financial year, the City and County of Honolulu has already set aside a total of $292 million to cater for environmental services including implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies (“City and County of Honolulu,” 2016). The budgetary allocations for environmental services are expected to increase in the coming financial years. In 2016, Honolulu appropriated $459,020 in sewer revenue. These are charges for wastewater discharge and management to residential facilities and non-residential dwellings. Honolulu plans to increase these charges in the 2017 financial year to generate a total revenue of $496,031. The cost increments upon residents comes amidst the need to improve wastewater collection and treatment system in Honolulu so as to reduce water pollution and destruction of marine ecosystem. Solid waste revenues are also projected to increase in the 2017 budget. As such, the implementation of the U.S. Environmental Policy will come at a high cost to the local government of Honolulu and its residents. Each year, the city must increase operational budget to cater towards implementation of the policy.

In conclusion, the implementation of United States Environmental Policy remains an imperative issue for the City and County of Honolulu. Climate change is a threat in major parts of the world. Honolulu greatly relies on the ocean for tourism activities and as a major transportation route through the harbor. The local government must address the impacts of climate change and ocean water pollution for these sectors to remain viable in the long-run.

 

References

Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP). (2012). Climate Change Law and          Policy in Hawaii. University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program. Retrieved from:             http://seagrant.noaa.gov/Portals/0/Documents/what_we_do/toolkit/sm_climatechangelaw            andpolicy_1.pdf

City and County of Honolulu. (2016). The Executive Program and Budget Fiscal Year 2017.        Retrieved from:   http://www.honolulu.gov/rep/site/bfs/bfs_docs/FINAL_Volume_1_Operating_Program_            nd_Budget_FY_2017.pdf.

EPA. (2010). Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments. Retrieved            from: https://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate

EPA. (2015). Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of a Global Action. Retreived from:             https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/cirareport.pdf

Lee, R. D., Johnson, R. W., Joyce, P. G. (2008). Public budgeting systems (8th ed.). Sudbury,       MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Governmental Budgeting Process

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5-page APA style paper, not including Title and Reference pages. The selection of the U.S. federal agency is up to the writer. Revenues and finance data must be current and properly sourced in the paper.

Governmental Budgeting Process

Government Budgeting Process at VA

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Governmental Budgeting Process refers to the decision-making process by which public resources are allocated to priority areas identified by the government. It refers to the mechanism by which a budget is created and approved. Budgeting is important since it enables the government to establish expenditure levels for various agency’s functions. Budgeting helps allocate scarce resources to various agencies and departments that help meet public demand and maximize the welfare of the citizens (Lee, Johnson, Joyce, 2008). The budget is supposed to reflect the values and meet the needs of majority of the citizens. Over the years, Governmental Budgeting Process has evolved tremendously. This has mainly been influenced by laws passed by the Congress to shape and smoothen the entire process. This paper will analyze the budgeting process with regard to United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs is a state-run benefits system that is meant to cater for veterans. VA administers a number of programs aimed at looking into the welfare of veterans and their families, including survivors. Specifically, the agency is charged with providing health care and other benefits to Veterans including their families. VA derives its revenues from the federal government through budget allocations. VA also utilizes discretionary resources under its control. In order to obtain funding from the federal government, VA prepares budget requests which it presents to the legislature. This is based on estimated agency needs and cost of various programs to be undertaken during the next financial period. Cost estimates prepared by VA officials are documented and taken through the four Public Budget Cycle phases for evaluation and approval purposes. In the 2017 budget request, OB has made requests of a total $182.3 billion. A part of this amount, $103.6 billion, represents mandatory funding while the other part, $78.7 billion represents discretionary resources. This is a 4.9 percent increase compared with the budget for the last financial year (“Office of Budget,” 2017).

VA has several revenue classifications based on how or where it is derived. The first classification is the exchange revenue that is derived from exchange of goods or services between VA and the public or a government entity for a consideration (“Department of Veteran Affairs,” 2011). Exchange revenue may include fees and commissions charged or earned various services. As such, VA may earn exchange revenue from providing goods or services to private entities, public entities, state and local governments, foreign governments, business, federal agencies, and other VA facilities. Primary exchange revenue at VA is earned through provision of medical services to VA members. Exchange revenue may also be earned from trust fund activity or from a revolving fund. The second form of revenue classification is non-exchange revenue. This revenue is obtained when VA demands revenue from the general public in form of penalties, duties, and fines. Donations are also included as part of non-exchange revenue. Donations may be in form of cash, securities, land, or buildings.

Fiduciary funds are those held by the government but in actuality belong to individuals or entities. VA has established a fiduciary program that serves veterans and their families. The fiduciary program specifically targets veterans who are incapacitated due to disease or injury and are unable to continue providing to their families. This also includes veteran members who are unable to manage their finances due to any of the reasons such as age, disease, or even injury. Proof of incapacitation must be provided for one to be eligible for the program. This involves providing medical documentation or a court ruling. A fiduciary is appointed after establishing that a veteran is incapable of managing his/her financial affairs. Fiduciary funds are a veteran’s personal savings and entitlements. They represent the share or fraction of savings that is rightfully entitled to a veteran member, but is in one way or another unable to manage the share of funds. This is thus the exchange revenue derived by VA (“Department of Veteran Affairs,” 2011).

Proprietary funds are used in governmental accounting. The Veterans Affairs Department uses proprietary accounts to show the true financial position and operations of the department with regard to liabilities, actual assets, revenues, expenditures and fund balances (“Department of Veteran Affairs,” 2011). Proprietary funds in VA are associated with the loan program. The proprietary fund associated with the loan program is audited to ensure accountability in the loan program. Proprietary liability accounts and asset accounts are used to indicate the receipt of funds in Treasury and in classification of various assets such as inventory, receivables and fixed assets. Governmental funds represent all other forms of funds. Governmental funds receives revenues from grants made by the federal government. For instance, the discretionary grants that are issued under a federal government agency.

Public policy decisions significantly affect the receipt of revenues at the Veterans Affairs Department. During the appropriation phase, various bodies maintain communication. These include Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Federal agencies, and the President. Economic outlook projections are given by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Treasury, and the Council of Economic Advisers. All these agencies and persons affect the decisions on issuance of revenues and restrictions that might be placed. Statutory provisions establish the number of items that must be submitted together with the budget request. VA is require by OMB circular to prepare performance-based budgets in accordance to Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). This act also requires VA to prepare performance reports and performance plans annually. OMB is in charge of apportioning funds to various agencies including VA and monitoring their use of the funds.

The Antideficiency Act (ADA) also places restrictions in the ways VA conducts itself. This act prohibits VA from spending more funds than appropriated under the budget. The act also requires VA to control its spending. In case of overspending, penalties are issued. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Treasury also gives directions on how VA controls its budget. The two provides guidelines and specific procedures that are supposed to be followed.  VA is also supposed to issue a final report to Congress detailing how appropriated funds were put to use. GAO restricts VA on the amount of payments it can make for various operations. This ensures that funds are used in an accountable manner.

The economic performance is of great significance when making revenue projections. The first form of economic conditions that affect revenue projections is the unemployment rate in the country. The unemployment rate is determined by the business cycle prevailing in a country. When production of goods and services is high, more individuals are involved in production. This increases the revenue base available for taxation. The level of GDP also affects revenue projections in a country. GDP level is used as an indicator of economic performance. A high economic performance as indicated by GDP levels improves the bottom line of the budget. A slow or negative growth in GDP translates to less amount of taxable income available. Policymakers would thus lower their revenue projections.

The Interest rate is also a significant determiner of revenue projections. Revenue projections heavily rely on interest rates in the country. Changes in interest rates have various impacts both to firms, individuals and the government in terms of borrowing (Howlett, 2011). Generally, higher interest rates lead to low aggregate demand in the economy. This have several consequences on the economy such as low economic growth, unemployment levels increase, and negative balance of payments. The government pays higher interest rates on current loans reducing the amount of money available for various projects in the country. Such conditions negatively affects revenue projections.  Policymakers analyze interest rates which gives a measure of the economic conditions in the country.

The prevailing prices of some goods also determine the economic conditions in the U.S. For instance, it has been observed that lower gas prices in the U.S. markets triggers a higher consumer spending. On the other hand when prices are high, there is a lot of pessimism which leads to restrained spending. Restrained spending is harmful to the economy since the government is unable to obtain sufficient revenue in form of taxation to fund its operations. As such, high prices of some basic commodities like gas may lead to low revenue projections.

 

References

Department of Veteran Affairs. (2011). VA Financial Policies and Procedures. Retrieved from:             http://www.va.gov/finance/docs/VA-FinancialPolicyVolumeIVChapter01.pdf

Howlett, C. (2011). Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update. DIANE Publishing.

Lee, R. D., Johnson, R. W., Joyce, P. G. (2008). Public budgeting systems (8th ed.). Sudbury,       MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Office of Budget. (2017). FY 2017 Budget Submission. Retrieved from:             http://www.va.gov/budget/products.asp

Homelessness in the City & County of Honolulu Research paper

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The homeless issue is to be written for the City & County of Honolulu. I’ve included the draft budget of the local city government which will aid incorporating the financial aspect into the document. The requirements are specific and detailed. If additional financial/revenue information is needed, I can email or provide links to source documents. Many thanks.

  Homelessness Honolulu Research paper

Homelessness in the City & County of Honolulu

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Introduction

Homelessness has been a major challenge in the City & County of Honolulu and the entire United States in general. Throughout history, a considerable proportion of the population has lived in appalling conditions. Homelessness is not a problem that only emerged in the modern world; there exists written accounts depicting homelessness back in the middle ages. However, one would expect that with modernization and improvement in technology in the last century, the entire population would be able to afford basic necessities such as food and shelter. This has not been the situation as more than 1 million U.S, residents lack housing. The situation is not just confined to the U.S. but also reflected in other parts of the world. Homelessness is a critical issue that needs to be addressed especially in the developing countries where about half of the population live in appalling conditions. Homelessness contributes to the emergence of slums especially in less developed countries.

A multiplicity of factors are identified as the major cause of homelessness in the United States. Lack of affordable housing has been singled out as the most important factor in determining the level of homelessness in a particular area. This is closely related to a number of overarching themes such as job loss, financial difficulties, and job search problems that contribute to homelessness. The economic blips experienced from time to time determines the employment levels which has a ripple impact in the housing sector. Interpersonal incidents also contribute to a large share of homeless persons. An example of these incidents is domestic violence, disputes, and lack of support from parents. Drug and substance abuse also contributes to homelessness across a section of the population. Lastly, inadequate income assistance programs have also led to the development of conditions that lead to homelessness in the U.S. states.

Thesis

The City & County of Honolulu has sought to address the issue of homelessness that afflicts more than 2,964 of its residents. According to Botelho (2015), the entire State of Hawaii had an estimated 7,620 people living in squalid conditions without proper shelter. Although the figure may seem small compared to the number of homeless people in other states such as California (114,000 homeless people), Hawaii’s population is relatively small, with about 1.36 million people living in the Island. At 487 homeless per 100,000 citizens, the state of Hawaii has one of the highest homelessness rate per capita among the 50 U.S. states. A growing concern is the rising number of homeless in the State of Hawaii, which has prompted authorities to look for concrete and lasting solutions to the problem. This paper will examine the general homelessness situation in the City & County of Honolulu, analyze the local government’s revenues and possible funding options, and look into the public policy issues concerning the revenues.

Local government’s revenues and possible funding options

There are a number of possible revenue sources which the City & County of Honolulu administration can exploit in order to solve the current homelessness crisis. The City & County of Honolulu has already prepared a budget proposal that will be used to solve the homelessness crisis. A number of housing programs have been commissioned with an aim of increasing the number of homes to residents. Notable of these is the Housing First Program which focuses on providing homes based on the state of the citizen’s homelessness. The program was initiated in 2015, and will first provide homes to the chronic homeless citizens. Since the inception of the program, 173 homeless persons have benefited from the project (Botelho (2015). The program ensures the homeless individuals acquire permanent housing in addition to receiving social support services such as medical care to cater to their mental needs and help them regain stability.

According to City and County of Honolulu (2016b), Honolulu’s local government has set aside an operating budget that will ensure the Housing First Program is realized. A total of $5.4 million will be used to cater for rent and support services. A further $1.2 million will be used to acquire housing vouchers. The local government has also initiated a homeless transition project that will cost up to $1.8 million. The entire project is expected to provide housing to about 315 households once complete. The housing First Program pilot phase was implemented in 2012 with a total budget of $1 million. This project focused on the chronically homeless in the regions of downtown Honolulu and Waikiki. The pilot phase of the program helped a total of 71homeless residents. A total of 48 individuals were able to access permanent housing during the pilot phase. About 7 of those in the program left for foster homes while another 7 returned to their former state of homelessness.

There are a number of possible funding options for Honolulu’s local government. The possible source of funding for the homeless project include appropriations by the legislature, grants from public agencies and private entities/individuals, funding from federal government, gifts & donations, and real estate conveyance tax. The major source of funding for the homeless project will come from appropriations made by the legislature. These appropriations are made based on the taxes and other revenues obtained by the state. In 2014 financial year, the Honolulu City Council acquired funding to the tune of $47.2 million which was a new high in terms of housing budget.  In 2015, a total of $3 million was spent in the Housing First Program. The largest source of revenue for the city is real property tax collections which account for 34.06 percent of the total 2016 financial year budget. Sewer revenues account for 13.26 percent of the total and 4.19 percent for solid waste management (“City and County of Honolulu,” 2016b).

An important source of funding for the homeless project in Honolulu has been the city’s Affordable Housing Fund. In this program, a proportion of the total real property tax revenues is set aside for the purpose of maintaining affordable housing to all individuals who receive incomes of less than 50% of Hawaii’s median household income. This significantly helps in providing houses and also for maintenance purposes.

The homeless project also receives federal support in terms of finances. In the 2016 fiscal year, $1.2 million of the total budget is expected to come from the federal government and will go towards funding rental vouchers in Honolulu. In 2016, the city expects 3.3% of its budget to be funded through federal grants. Another major source of funding for the homeless project is grants received from public agencies and private entities and persons. Grants for the homeless are important in backing the program. In 2015, Honolulu received housing and community development grant amounting to $143,582. State grants account for 0.27 percent of the total budget. In 2015, the state of Hawaii received a grant of $945,101 from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This grant would be used to support the chronically homeless persons with mental issues or substance abusers in the entire region including Honolulu (“City and County of Honolulu,” 2016a).

The federal funds supports a number of programs mean to alleviate the situation of the homeless in Honolulu region. Some of the programs directly backed by the federal fund include Rental Assistance, Loans for Homeowners, Continuum of Care Program, Community Development Block Grants, and others (“City and County of Honolulu,” 2016b). Gifts and donations are source of funds for use in the homeless project as well as other development program. The program receives support from nonprofit groups, local communities, and businesses. Lastly, the homelessness public policy obtains funding from a general obligation bond (GOB). A GOB is a municipal bond where local governments borrow money and use tax revenues and other available resources as collateral for the debt. By using the GOB for funding purposes, the local or state government is able to save on high interest payments which characterize other types of debt funding.

Restrictions that are (or could be) placed on those revenues

Various restrictions may be placed on the revenues either by the local authorities, state government, City ordinances, Honolulu’s City Charter or even the federal government. Homelessness is complex problem at Honolulu and requires close monitoring to ensure resources are carefully distributed to tackle the problem. The state has introduced a number of restrictions guiding the use of revenues in the various cities. The first limitation involves the distribution of funds among the various programs. The state regulation requires Honolulu to appropriate a segment of the general revenue meant for the housing program to mental health and substance abuse.  This falls under the housing support services and is implemented by the department of health dealing with drug and substance abuse (“City and County of Honolulu,” 2016a). The amount varies depending on the budgetary provisions made annually.

The state legislation requires local governments to set aside funds for a rental assistance program. A rental assistance program targets homeless working persons who rent houses to obtain permanent housing. The maximum subsidy per household is $300 per month, provided the applicants pay 40% of their total gross income. The program targets all individuals regardless of whether they are substance abusers. The local government is not supposed to impose any restrictions on the benefactors provided they meet the outlined conditions. The state also requires all local governments to appropriate a certain amount of funds every year for the special housing program. This will ensure continuation of the program. State legislation also places restrictions on property tax rates that can be applied to property owners. It is worth noting that the local governments collects a significant proportion of the revenue from property tax levy.

The state government requires that funds meant for the affordable housing program be used for projects that will be affordable to the common people in the long-run. This calls for development of cost effective houses meant for those in the low income bracket.  The income stream generated from rent of the properties can be used by developers to secure loans. Developers also face restrictions on the amount of rent they can charge for the property. Current laws stipulate that developers can charge up to a maximum of 28% of the monthly income of the tenants. This limits the amount of income developers can collect and subsequently the amount debt they can secure based on the income stream. Regarding the use of general obligation bond to make borrowings, the city imposes a 20 percent limitation on the amount of borrowings that can be made under ordinary circumstances. The limitation specifies that borrowings may not exceed 20 percent of the entire operating budget.

Funds provided by the federal government also come with a number of restrictions. For instance, rent from the units must be within particular limitations which are published annually by (HUD). The maximum purchase price of the units are also determined by HUD. Specific maximum per-unit subsidy limits must also be observed during the implementation of the project. An important requirement by the federal government is the need for proper auditing of funds used in the project. The federal government requires the participating jurisdiction to conduct thorough assessments of the source and application of funds to determine whether costs are reasonable. This ensures that integrity is enhanced in the homelessness program.

City Ordinances provided by the Mayor may also impose restrictions in the use of the funds. For instance, decisions on available land on which houses for the homeless may be constructed are made by the local government. The local government also establishes small buildings that can be converted into homeless sheltering with minimal costs. Honolulu City Charter is another important document in the restriction of funds used for homelessness public policy. The City Charter document is important in regulating the use of homelessness public policy funds in running of departments and other offices that coordinate various activities. For instance, the Office of Strategic Development receives a portion of funds from the homelessness program in order to run its daily activities. The amount of funds allocated is outlined by the City Charter which must be signed by the Mayor. The local government thus have authority over how the funds may be used. Nonetheless, it must also comply with state and federal government regulations.

How public policy decisions affect the receipt of revenues

Public policy decisions are fundamental in determining the amount of revenues received in Honolulu. Homelessness affects a large number of Honolulu’s residents. The public policy decisions greatly determines the quality of life of individuals in the region. Public policy decisions influence the type of revenue system in place. A quality revenue system consists of elements that complement each other as opposed to being contradictory. The revenue system should enhance the relationship between the local government and the state. State may formulate public policy decisions that influences the mandate of local government in revenue collection. For instance, the state may require local government to introduce new form of taxes. The state also establishes the appropriate tax rates that determines the amount of revenue that can be collected. Higher tax rates can lead to higher revenue collection but on the flipside may lead to inflation or force businesses to close down.

State governments enacts decisions on the overall limitations of state government concerning collection of revenue. When local governments are unable to raise required revenue to support its basic operations, the state should come up with solutions to address such issues. State policymakers may recommend subsidizing the local government to cater for such deficits. Public policy decisions may also affect the receipt of revenues based on data gathering and analysis conducted during evaluation of various projects. Policymakers rely on gathered data to make decisions including financial projections. Inadequate data may cause policymakers to make the wrong financial projections and budget appropriations. This may impact the revenue available for use in the homelessness program. Policymakers can only make good decisions when key data is available in accordance to the local, state, and federal perspectives.

Public policy decisions determine the methods used in collecting revenue. The best way to collect revenue would be through implementing a mix of taxes. Imposing a variety of taxes ensures that revenue collection is not significantly affected by economic blips in particular sectors of the economy that yield taxes. For instance, the region should not rely solely on tax collected from tourism. Rather, it should ensure that the tax base is diversified. Public policy decisions made should ensure that there is relative stability in the collection of revenue. Public policy decisions facilitates accountability in the administration of revenues. Accountability is crucial when accessing grants and other forms of funds especially from the federal government. Lack of accountability may mean that available funds were used inappropriately which may cause various donors to withdraw their funding from various projects. Policymakers must ensure that there are oversight authorities responsible for ensuring that revenues are fairly and efficiently utilized for the benefit of the greater majority.

Public policy decisions significantly impacts the choices of revenue sources to be used. Policymakers may decide on a variety of revenue sources available such as taxes, grants, external debts, local debt financing, and use of government bonds. All these are various sources of revenue that policymakers can choose from. The choice of revenue source depends on a multiplicity of factors that could be country-specific or be determined by global economic trends. The choice may for instance depend on the public authority that the policymakers have, while at times may be shaped by political forces. Public policy decisions also influence aggregate economic performance. Policymakers are involved in making decisions that can enhance the national output of a country. The government is responsible for formulating policies that fix the macro and micro problems that a country may be experiencing. Proper economic policies contribute to a higher economic output and consequently higher revenue for the government.

Public policy decisions on the amount of borrowings to make also affect revenue. The state makes such decisions based on thorough analysis of the economic conditions in the local environment. The state may also introduce budget curbs aimed at controlling the level of spending. Such curbs may reduce the amount of funds local governments require. The relationship between the country and the source of revenue may also determine the amount of revenue received. A state which maintains good public relations with others may be at a better position of receiving funds should the need arise. Collective bargaining by local government may also affect the receipt of revenues. The local government may decide to collectively bargain for an increment in its share of the revenue from the state.

Economic conditions that affect revenue projections

The economic conditions prevailing in the country and across the world affect the projections made by policymakers relating to expected revenues. The amount of revenue is dependent on taxable income, corporate profits, wages and salaries, and other forms of income received by individuals. The first form of economic conditions that affect revenue projections is the unemployment rate in the country. The unemployment rate in the country determines the personal income levels. The amount of income tax is directly affected by changes in personal income levels. Income tax is progressive in nature. When there is high unemployment, income tax revenue also falls accordingly. Policymakers must therefore take into consideration the unemployment levels while making revenue projections (Kemp, 2012).

The unemployment rate is determined by the business cycle prevailing in a country.  A business cycle is characterized by two major phases which include expansion and contraction. Expansion is marked by growth, whereby a large segment of the population is involved in productive economic activities. During contraction, there is negative growth and people lose jobs. This is the period when unemployment rate is highest.  For instance during the 2008 recession, majority of people lost their jobs in the United States and other parts of the world. This led to a reduction in personal incomes and corporate profits. Consequently, revenue projections were low during the period (Kemp, 2012). This is because the taxable income and corporate profits which are a major source of revenue were low.

The level of GDP also affects revenue projections in a country. GDP of a country is the gross domestic product. In other words, this is the value of all final goods and services produced within a country’s borders less imports (Howlett, 2011). GDP level is used as an indicator of economic performance. A high economic performance as indicated by GDP levels improves the bottom line of the budget. A slow or negative growth in GDP may have several consequences on a country’s budget. First, this would mean less amount of taxable income available. Policymakers would thus lower their revenue projections. This may also create the need to borrow funds to cater for the income gaps. Policymakers partly rely on GDP estimates to make revenue projections. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provides policymakers with key estimates and economic analysis including GDP projections. These estimates are then used to make various decisions in various states including revenue projections. CBO’s projection of the nominal levels of GDP has the greatest impact on projected revenue amount in a country (Howlett, 2011).

The Interest rate is also a significant determiner of revenue projections. Revenue projections heavily rely on interest rates in the country. Changes in interest rates have various impacts both to firms, individuals and the government in terms of borrowing (Howlett, 2011). Higher interest rates may have different impacts on the economy. First, they may lead to increased cost of borrowing. The increased cost of borrowing means that the state government will have to pay more money during debt servicing that it would ordinarily pay. This means that more funds will be channeled towards debt servicing. Such a scenario may lead to low revenue projections. Higher cost of borrowing may also have negative implications on citizens. Individuals having loans will be forced to spend more and hence less disposable incomes. This reduces their consumption and overall aggregate demand. Higher interest rates also increases mortgage interest payments and on the other hand reduce personal disposable income. Another impact of higher interest rates is the increased propensity to save.

Generally, higher interest rates lead to low aggregate demand in the economy. This have several consequences on the economy such as low economic growth, unemployment levels increase, and negative balance of payments. The government pays higher interest rates on current loans reducing the amount of money available for various projects in the country. Such conditions negatively affects revenue projections.  Policymakers analyze interest rates which gives a measure of the economic conditions in the country.

The level of prices is also used to determine revenue projections in a country. Inflation has mixed effects on the projected revenue of a country. The actual impacts of inflation produces offsetting impacts on a state’s revenues (“OECD,” 2016). Nonetheless, the net impacts would be budget deficits, meaning less revenues for a country. On one hand, inflation increases interest rates which leads to high cost of servicing debts. If interest rates are controlled, the situation is rather different. Increases in prices may lead to higher wages and salaries, profits, and other forms of income. This in turn leads to higher incomes from personal taxes and corporation taxes. High inflation rates may discourage spending, and diminish consumer’s disposable incomes. This is especially when wage increases does not reflect the actual inflation in a country. This may lead to low aggregate demand and consequently low income for the state. High inflation may thus lead to low revenue projections.

Recommend a revenue policy that aligns with community values

It is important for the local government of Honolulu to establish a revenue policy that will align with community policies. The best one would be a cost effective policy that does not add pressure to the community since majority of Honolulu residents can barely afford to pay for basic amenities including rent. In this case, public-private partnerships would be the best policy for raising more revenue without impacting the cost of living of the residents. Public-private partnership policy can enable the local government to raise more revenue without necessarily resulting to higher tax rates which may have detrimental impacts to the economy (Delmon, 2011). Currently, the revenue derived from property tax cannot be able to cater for the increasing government demands. Increase in taxation will directly or indirectly impact hard on consumers that the government is trying to protect from high prices of goods and services. For instance, increase in corporation tax will lead to passing of the tax burden to consumers. As a result, the impact falls on consumers.

Public-private partnerships present an integrated and comprehensive way of raising revenues in the face of budget constraints (Delmon, 2011). Public-private partnership programs enable the government to involve the private sector in developing and improving public resources. This is an innovative way to raise revenue without having to increase taxes. The program involves leveraging community properties or assets for advertising, sponsorships, naming rights, and other benefits. Public-private partnership may also involve the development of properties such as housing projects, road construction projects, network infrastructure project, and others. Public-private partnerships can also aim at improving other community services such as education, health, training, and to create employment opportunities.

Public-private partnerships can be used to fund projects such as the homelessness project in Honolulu and other parts. This will enable the local government to achieve its housing objectives without the need to increase taxes or borrowings. However, the local government should develop proper guidelines before engaging the private sector to avoid conflicts of interest. The private sector is motivated by profits while on the other hand, the local government is motivated by the need to improve the welfare of the citizens. The private sector must thus bee checked to ensure that the motivation for profits does not override the overall goal of the project which is to deliver affordable housing to the poor. The local government must ensure that the private partner selected aligns with the community’s values, needs and interests. The government must thus develop policies and procedures that will help the private partner to align with community values and to deliver the requirements of the project as expected.

In conclusion, Hawaii State should develop and implement appropriate policy frameworks to contain the increasingly homelessness problem. Homelessness is currently as issue of major concern in the area after it emerged that more than 7,000 residents lack adequate shelter. Worse still, the number of homeless individuals in the area is rising each year. The City & County of Honolulu must address the housing issue by critically reevaluating its revenue reserves and seeking funding options when budget deficits are experienced. Possible funding options include federal grants, raising funds through issuance of bonds, tax revenue collected, and gifts and donations from other countries, agencies and individuals. The City & County of Honolulu must take into consideration public policy issues concerning raising of revenue to fund the homelessness program. For instance, it is important to ensure that funds are raised in a manner that does not impact the welfare of citizens through raising taxes.

 

References

Botelho, G. (2015, Oct. 17). Homeless emergency declared in Hawaii. CNN. Retrieved from:             http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/17/us/hawaii-homeless-emergency/

City and County of Honolulu. (2016a). The Executive Program and Budget Fiscal Year 2016.      Retrieved from: https://www.honolulu.gov/rep/site/bfs/bfs_docs/FY16_-         _Operating_Program_and_Budget.pdf

City and County of Honolulu. (2016b). What is the City Doing to Help? Mayor’s Office of           Housing. Retrieved from: http://www.honolulu.gov/housing/ohou-what.html

Delmon, J. (2011). Public-Private Partnership Projects in Infrastructure: An Essential Guide for             Policy Makers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Howlett, C. (2011). Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update. DIANE Publishing.

Kemp, R. L. (2012). The municipal budget crunch: A handbook for professionals. Jefferson,        N.C: McFarland & Co.

OECD. (2016). Real GDP forecast (indicator). Retrieved from: doi: 10.1787/1f84150b-en           (Accessed on 06 April 2016)

Public Policy Issue/Controversy (Public Administration)

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Public Policy Issue/Controversy (Public Administration)

Public Policy Issue/Controversy (Public Administration)

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Abstract

The paper seek to explore the factors effecting abortion as a public policy issue; a case study of the United States of America. The topic has been a matter of controversy facing the US for over decades. It has dominated the flour of the US parliament, the media, and the placards of the activists. Abortion is legalized in the country though there are some individual states that have enacted laws that make abortion illegal. The study gives reasons why women consider abortion over giving birth and also the pro and cons of abortion. The paper also seeks to explain the cost of abortion to the US economy. In conclusion, it explains policies that can be effective in curbing the abortion menace in the country. The policies are also evaluated to see if they are administratively feasible and their sustainability is also assessed.

 

Introduction

According to Anderson, J. E. (2014), abortion can be defined as the premature ending of a pregnancy by way of removing the embryo or fetus before it can be able to hold and survive outside the uterus. The subject of abortion has been full of controversy for many decades. The paper will explore the factors effecting abortion as a public policy issue; a case study of the United States of America. There are those who feel that abortion should be abolished, other feel it should be legalized (Finer, L. B., & Zolna, M. R. 2014). Abortion can be spontaneously or inform of a miscarriage or an induced abortion. The paper will focus on the induced abortion which is a public issue of controversy. An induced abortion can happen in the following ways can be therapeutic; that is abortion done out of some medical reasons. There is another type of induced abortion that happens out of the request of the woman for non-medical reasons. The paper will majorly focus on the latter and critically address the public policy concern.

It is also noteworthy to state that abortion in the federal government of the U.S is legal according to the landmark case of Roe vs. Wade (Baumgartner, F. R., Jones, B. D., & Mortensen, P. B. 2014). The decision concluded that abortion is illegal but individual states have the power to restrict the practice to a varying degree. Conversely, there are states that have created laws to make the act of abortion illegal. There are six states that have already criminalized abortion while others are in the process of outlawing abortion. The paper will also look at the right of an individual to make a choice to abort and also analyze on legal rights of the fetus.

Reasons for Abortion

The key reason for performing abortions is lack of enough funds to raise the kid (Watt, H. 2016). The other reason associated by the women is lack of readiness to partake the task of raising the kid. The other popular concern is the change in women life in terms of age, and lack of a stable relationship. Abortion can also be done when there is health problems associated with the mother or the fetus. In case of teenage pregnancy, they may fear the violence reaction by the parents. They may also consider the effect of abortion on their academic life. The financial constraints and the fear of rejection by the society are also some of the underlying reasons that can prompt them to procure an abortion.

Pros and Cons of Abortion

Pros – it helps to protect and defend the health of the woman. Abortion safeguards the right of parents to make a decision on whether to keep or not keep the child. It assists them to keep check of the family size so as to have that which they can manage. In a mental retarded lady, abortion may be an option if it was due to rape.

Cons – It can result to medical snag such as recurring or repeated miscarriage, sepsis, and infection. It can badly injure or have a worse impact on the mental status of the woman. It can make her depressed resulting to numerous mental ailments (Finer, L. B., & Zolna, M. R. 2014). The practice is unethical and can lead to a couple behave in a reckless manner. Lastly, abortion practices can be termed as s viciousness or brutality. The religious institutions do not allow abortion as it diminishes the right of the fetus to life.

Roe vs. Wade

The Roe vs. Wade (1973) is a milestone decision that was made by the supreme court of the United States of America. The decision was unanimously agreed by seven out of nine judges that were tasked with making the verdict. The decision gave women a right to make decision regarding abortion. Nevertheless, the rights must be enshrined against the two interests that the states hold that include protecting the health of the woman and the protection of human life (Baumgartner, F. R., Jones, B. D., & Mortensen, P. B. 2014). The case is the foundation of the debate that questions to what extent is abortion lawful, the person tasked with deciding the legality of abortion, the methods that the Supreme Court should consider in constitutional decree, and the role of religious and ethical views in the political scope. The Roe vs. Wade divided the nation into pro-choice and pro-life movement that activated grassroots activities to discuss the issue.

History of Roe vs. Wade Case

The case started when one lady by the name Norma L. McCorvey discovered that she was expectant with her third kid. The period was in June 1969. Norma returned to Dallas, Texas where her friends suggested to her to falsely claim that she had been raped in order to be granted the legal right to procure an abortion. The woman had a full understanding that Texas granted/allowed abortion in case of rape or incest. The woman on attempting an unlawful abortion found that the facility had already been closed by the authority.

The ploy did not succeed as there was no any documentation to show the purported rape.  However, McCorvey filed a suit against the Dallas District Attorney through Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington. The plaintiff in this suit retrieved her claim that the pregnancy wasn’t as a result of rape. The case was decided by a three-judge board who declared unanimously that the Texas laws were unconstitutional. At the time of verdict, McCorvey had already conceived the child. They judges stated that the decision violated the privacy rights of the woman. However, the court refused to grant an injunction to hinder the execution of the law.

Pro-life vs. Pro-choice

The American has dwelt over the abortion issue for decades. The major concern is answering the question of abortion as a moral issue. The precarious issue is to agree on when life begins. The pro-life believes that life begins at conception and abortion is comparable to murder. The pro-choice argues that women have the right to abort because they have control over their bodies. They maintain that legalizing abortion will make the US formulate policies and ways of securing safe abortions (Watt, H. 2016). It will also eliminate death and trauma of proscribed abortion. The controversy has shifted from the rights of women to abort and the right of child to live and now it’s focusing on the social implication of abortion.

Decline in Fertility and the Urge for Abortion

There is a serious public health responsibility that comes with unwanted and unplanned pregnancies (Anderson, J. E. 2014). Abortion is seen to work as a contraceptive or as one of the means of reducing fertility. The common reason for abortion is failure of contraceptives thus leading to unwanted pregnancy. In the US, abortion is used by women when a contraceptive fails.

Abortion and Morality

According to Baumgartner, F. R., Jones, B. D., & Mortensen, P. B. (2014), the Christian teaching forbids the destruction of life by abortion. In most society, the act is seen as a dreadful and awful action. There is major prohibition and sanctions against anybody who kills a fetus, an infant, a child or an adult. In legal term, the fetus becomes a human person when it’s born. Conversely, the society and the church view the fetus as a life when it starts developing in the mothers. The moral and ethical position is determined by the definition of persons regarding the time life starts. The prolife also support the church by supporting the argument that life starts at conception and performing abortion is same as killing or committing murder. The prochoice have no concern on morality and argue that abortion will occur whether it’s illegal or immoral. Therefore, they conclude that it’s better to legitimize abortion so as to provide safe methods that will save the life of the women.

Stakeholders and affected Constituencies

According to Finer, L. B., & Zolna, M. R. (2014), there are a number of stakeholders and affected constituencies on this issue. The federal and the state governments have the greatest burden on the issue. The media has been part of the struggle in the abortion debate as it has been highlighting the plight of women. The young population is the major affected constituency in the US. The social activists are also a player in the issue. In addition, the institutions of learning are where majority of these issues occurs.

Stem-cell research is a medical possibility that is creating new-fangled constituencies. The members are likely to benefit from the dissertation by undermining the holiness of the embryos. The abortion debate is largely about interests that women hold in different life situations. It has also not changed the cast of partakers as it has been stable over a period of years. Nevertheless, the impending medical advances by the use of the term fetal tissue bring new accomplices to the debate. It is unthinkable that the addition of new interest and partakers in the public debate about the unborn life would not alter the treatise in a major way (Watt, H. 2016).  Correspondingly, opposition to bio-technology innovations has generated a left-right coalition flanked by environmentalists and conventional Protestants. The conflict draws political conscription that makes it easy for essential alteration.

The Political Institutions relevant to the policy discussion about Abortion.

The topic is a complex and intricate one that affect population, parental consent, freedom, and sacrosanctity of life. In the political context, abortion is seen as an individual privacy right. Due to the following issues, it’s true that political institutions are part of advancement and enactment of abortion policies.

The function of Political Institutions in shaping the Law

In the US, the judicial system has been politicized. The US Supreme court espoused the federal law that burned abortion policies and gave politicians the right to inhibit the private healthcare choice of women and families. The other venues that the reforms can be addressed are a critical issue on the political circle. The professional bodies that have the power to redress the issue have associated themselves to the state. That has led to the professional bodies such as the American Medical Association allow abortions but with little restrictions. Thus, the issue moved from a medical one to a political issue (Finer, L. B., & Zolna, M. R. 2014). The issue has been long been discussed by state and federal legislatures, governors, judges, and politicians. That has led to reduction in abortion practices due to a decline in public spending. The political institutions have led to abortion being recognized as a citizen’s right rather than a medical obligation.  The government has over years listened to both the pro-life and pro-choice resulting to endless debate on the issue.

Abortion issue both at the Federal Government and State Government

The issue of abortion faces both the federal government and the state government. The federal government ban abortion that is in its second trimester of pregnancy. The ban affects the women who are in need of second trimester abortion and the medical practitioners who help them procure an abortion. The reason for this is that it is the safest way to protect the health of the women. The decision by the Supreme Court to abolish abortion was to ensure that the women’s health was given precedence (Anderson, J. E. 2014).

The states have also followed the precedence set by the federal government. They are making rules to restrict or ban women from practicing abortion. For instance, Trent Franks, the representative of Arizona has been in the forefront to push for a bill that will prohibit abortion after 20 weeks in the District of Columbia.

The Public Issue and the Cost to the Americans

The truth of the matter is that the American taxpayers are compensating for abortion. It estimated that they bankroll about 24 percent of the cost of abortions in the US. The 6.6 percent of the cost is borne by federal taxpayers while 17.4 percent is borne by the taxpayers from states. The sum covers for 250,000 abortions in a year which represents 70,000 for federal taxpayers and 180,000 is financed by the taxpayers in the states.

The state under Medicaid is a federal version of the Hyde Amendment that allows the government to fund abortion that results from rape cases and incest. The fund is also used when there is life endangerment in the side of the women (Watt, H. 2016). Medicaid only permit the women to pay for the abortion fee incase her life is threatened by physical illness, injury and disorder that is as a result of the pregnancy. The Hyde Amendment has not unequivocally banned the federal funding for abortions. If the restrictions aforementioned were not there, the Medicaid would be accountable to about 300,000 to 500,000 abortions annually (Baumgartner, F. R., Jones, B. D., & Mortensen, P. B. 2014).

Preventing Taxpayers from Subsidizing Abortion

The Obama health care law seeks the states to offer a health insurance exchange or let the federal government help them set one. The health insurance that offers coverage is permitted to partake in a state’s exchange and be granted the federal subsidies. It is in exemption of any state laws that are legislated to abolish abortion. In the Obama care law, it authorizes the respective states avert the abortion coverage in the exchanges. The following are states that restrict abortion coverage ploy in the interchange: Wisconsin, South Carolina, Virginia, South Dakota, Utah, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arizona, Missouri, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky, South and North Carolina, and North Dakota.

Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes provisions that affect the abortion services. There is the essential benefit that inaugurates the least level of benefits that individuals must be offered in an abortion incidence. Nevertheless, the abortion coverage is banned from federal benefits packages that are established. The second endowment that was signed by President Obama is the restriction on federal funding on health exchanges. It extended the Hyde Amendment restraint to the federal sponsored coverage on the ACA health interactions.

The third provision is the restrain on the state funding on health restrictions. The ACA gives power to the state to enact superior restriction than the Hyde Amendment on any abortion coverage that provides plans in their states. The power has enabled over twenty states to make laws that offer restrictions on the abortion coverage. The forth provision is the segregation of funds by exchange plans (Watt, H. 2016).  The provision has given the private owned healthcare including coverage of abortion past Hyde limitations. They must approximate the actuarial value of casing the abortions by taking into consideration the cost versus the gains of the abortions.

The fifth provision is the military personnel and their dependents. The funds should only be used to execute abortions excluding in cases of life endangerment, incest or rape. The restraint apply to care that is provided by martial health facility and staff and care that is delivered by inhabitants and financed through Tricare, health care and insurance program for military personnel, spouses, and their children. The Indian Health Services (IHS) is also a provision of the ACA. The hundreds of IHS clinics and health care’s provide Medicare to over 2.1 million American Indians and the Alaskan Natives. The funding for the abortion is subject to Hyde amendment that permits only in cases of rape, incest or life threatening situation. However, the hospitals under IHS are unequipped and only provide about two funded abortions per year (Baumgartner, F. R., Jones, B. D., & Mortensen, P. B. 2014).

The federal employees and dependents only provide funding when the abortion is as a result of incest, life threatening situations or rape.  The women in federal prisons are also denied funding for abortion in a case of life threatening case or rape. The female prisoner or inmate who can afford abortion is permitted to do that outside the premise of the prison by use of their private funds. The inmate should be provided free escort by a police officers while visiting the hospital outside the prison.

Proposed Policy Issue to Address the Abortion Issue

There is no single policy that can be able to solve the intricate question of abortion. There is somehow a policy that can reduce the public tension that is brought by the controversial issue concerning abortion. The policies are drafted considering their political and social consequences, and elements that make it acrimonious. The paper suggests the following issues that we advise its adoption to curb the quagmire and challenges that come as a result of the abortion controversy.

Abortion should be made Legal under Certain Guidelines

The public opinion and information gathered from both primary and secondary research suggests that abortion is made legal under certain guidelines.  It is due to procreant and sexual health reproductive health research. The constraint on abortion should be parental notice and consent for minors who are under the age of 18 years. There is also a recommendation that women to undergo abortions and the father of the fetus must receive intimate lesson about contraceptives and how to avert unwanted pregnancies.

The sexual education should be integrated in the public scholastic systems. That will diminish the number of unsolicited pregnancy as a whole. The medical profession such as the American Medical Association (AMA) indicates that there is surge promiscuity in women but may downscale the annual degree of abortions. There should be repeal in the laws to allow pharmacies to access contraceptives to allow availability contraceptives.

USAID Dogma Determination 3 on Voluntary Neutering

The policy was issued by USAID in 1982 with the intention of guaranteeing that voluntary sterilization services that were funded by the U.S government safeguard the needs and rights of persons. The USAID insists that such policy and protections are essential given the distinctive nature of VS and an exceedingly personnel and perpetual surgical procedures. It outlines a number of USAID requirements for USAID voluntary sterilization services that includes:

Informed Consent – The USAID assistance to the voluntary sterilization service program is liable on suitable fortitude that the services, performed in full or partly by the USAID funds. The procedure must be executed only after the acceptor has voluntary represented him or herself to the health care facility and had given an informed consent of the procedures.

Ready Access to other Procedure – There should be other available family planning methods apart from voluntary sterilization. The options give the acceptor a chance to have choices on the other methods of family planning.

Non Incentive Payments – The USAID funds cannot be used to facilitate for impending acceptor of sterilization to accept the voluntary sterilization. The fee for the voluntary sterilization should be structured in a way that no financial incentives should be given to potential candidates of sterilization over other family planning methods.

It should be noted that there should be assistance on payments from the acceptors of the sterilization services, federal agents, and providers. The pay is not considered as an incentive as long as they are reasonable. The fortitude of a sensible payment must be grounded on a country and program specific foundation using acquaintance of social and economic circumstances (Baumgartner, F. R., Jones, B. D., & Mortensen, P. B. 2014).

Such payment include voluntary acceptors who may receive recompense for authentic extra expenses related to the procedures such as transportation, medicines, foods, and lost wages during a salvage period. The service providers may be awarded payment and be compensated for personal cost, anesthesia, pre and post-operative care, and transportations cost. The last payment may be awarded to voluntary sterilization agents that receive payment for extra cost incurred from referring voluntary sterilization clients.

The USAID policy is a permanent solution to the abortion menace. Successful voluntary sterilization gives the person an assurance of nonoccurrence of pregnancy cases to almost a hundred percent. If the policy is implemented, it will save the federal and state government from the abortion crisis.

Private Insurance Coverage of Abortion

There are twenty four states that have laws and regulations that are vital in prohibiting abortions coverage in ploys that are offered through Reasonable Care Act’s health insurance in the states. There are nine states that completely prohibit insurance treatment of abortion in all private insurance ploys controlled by the state (Vaughn, L. 2015). In the federal government, those politicians who are for against antiabortion have inhibited in poor women’s health choice by limiting the coverage of the practice for those who rely on Medicaid.

The result of the restraint is crucial. The deprived women being unable to use the coverage, they are forced to postpone the abortion because of the financial constraints (Wilson, W. J. 2012). The resolve of health insurance is to enable the manager manage the unanticipated therapeutic bills in case of uncertainties or unintentional events. The move to curb the medical coverage stigmatizes those women who really require the abortion services.

Solution to the Policy

Legalizing abortion through enacting laws that favors abortion is a right foot towards solving the unsafe abortion. The US women should be given the right to decide on the fate of the fetus. It will give the government an opportunity to enact policies and guidelines that will ensure that abortions are safe. It will reduce unsafe abortions that lead to death. Also, the incorporation of reproductive health lessons in the curriculum will help reduce cases of unwanted pregnancies among young people.

According to Vaughn, L. (2015), the USAID Dogma Determination 3 on Voluntary Neutering should be adapted. Voluntary sterilization is a permanent solution to the abortion peril. If a person is sterilization, his or her fertility is destroyed. It in turn reduces the number of unwanted pregnancy that leads to abortion. The policy should be given federal and state support until the dream of a free abortion country is realized.

The private insurance coverage on abortion should be legalized and given the requisite support by the government. The practice will ensure that women acquire better health care from both the state funded health care and private institutions. The coverage should be increased so that those who are unable to procure an abortion due to health reasons can be able to have one.

Administrative Feasibility of the Abortion Solution

As a student of public administration, there is need to answer the most fundamental question in this research. Are the solutions that the paper is giving administrative feasible? The question goes long way to confirm if the solutions are the best among the alternatives that the people of America have. The solution should have the capacity of reducing abortion cases in the United States of America.

The first solution is administrative feasible and can be implemented with ease. The legislatures can enact bills that can guide practitioners on instances that they should allow the abortion practices. In case the lady was raped or the pregnancy is as a result of incest they can perform abortion. In addition, if the women health or that of the fetus is threatened, the doctors can assist them procure an abortion.

The second solution on voluntary sterilization is not administrative feasible. It is so because the nature of the practice is multifarious that is difficult to be implemented in a given span of time. The public view on the policy is that it is not sustainable (Baumgartner, F. R., Jones, B. D., & Mortensen, P. B. 2014). If it is passed into law, the legislatures who sponsored the bill may face the wrath of the public. There are very few men who can accept to be sterilized or made infertile in a bid to contain abortion.

The private insurance coverage regarding abortion is an administrative feasible solution. The legislatures can enact laws that allow women to access the insurance policies that support abortions. Conversely, the cases that prompt abortions must be genuine and those that are within the law. Such conditions that may make abortion legal include: when the woman health or that of the embryo is threatened, the pregnancy is as a result of incest or rape (Vaughn, L. 2015).

Advantage and disadvantage of the Abortion Solution

The legalization of abortion will ensure that the abortion procedures become safer. On that view, the change of law is a prerequisite and any conflicting move is doomed. The legal change will ensure that safety sustainability is achieved. Safety refers not only better medical procedures but minimizing the effect of exposure that can lead to imprisonment and disciplinary measures for the medical providers and women (Watt, H. 2016). The threat of prosecution, violence and coercion has been experienced in urban Latin America.  Safety is also a sure way of getting skilled personnel perform the operation to avoid endangering the lives of women. The laws enacted will also act as a measure of public acceptance to check fertility and control population.

There are a lot of political institutions responsible for the formulation and implementation of the policy. The federal and state lawmakers are one strong political institution that should guide the policy formulation. The recommendation of legalizing abortion is both a task of the federal and the state government. They should both legislate on policies that will support sustainable safety procedures during abortion. The stakeholders such as activist groups and medical association should support the government in the implementation of the policy. The cost of the abortions to the American people will reduce as women will have options on either using Medicaid or private insurance (Baumgartner, F. R., Jones, B. D., & Mortensen, P. B. 2014).

                                                               Conclusion

The paper has explored on the factors effecting abortion as a public policy issue; in the United States of America. It has tackled on the reasons that people take to perform abortion together with. The paper has explained the pros and cons of abortion. The pro-life and pro-choice is also discussed in depth. The debate has sparked intense tension over the years on which side is right between the pro-life and pro-choice. There is also a discussion for the decline in fertility and the urge to have abortion practiced. The paper also explored on abortion and morality. It also outlined the stakeholders and those constituencies that are affected by the abortion controversy/ issue. There is also the issue of political institutions that are seen to bear the greatest responsibility in shaping the policy to solve the abortion quagmire.

The research outlines the abortion issue as both a federal and state responsibility. It also discuss on the cost that the American people have to burden to fund abortion in the country. The Affordable Care Act and its implication on the issue have also been highlighted. In a bid to solve the abortion problem, the paper has also analyzed the policies that are effective in policy formulation. The three policies that are embraced in this paper is legalizing abortion, allowing private health insurance to take care of abortions, and lastly allow the USAID dogma determination 3 on voluntary neutering. Lastly, the paper explains the administrative feasibility of the three policies where two are seen as feasible and the one is seen as not administrative feasible.

 

Reference

Anderson, J. E. (2014). Public policymaking. Cengage Learning.

Baumgartner, F. R., Jones, B. D., & Mortensen, P. B. (2014). Punctuated equilibrium theory: Explaining stability and change in public policymaking. Theories of the policy process, 59-103.

Finer, L. B., & Zolna, M. R. (2014). Shifts in intended and unintended pregnancies in the United States, 2001–2008. American Journal of Public Health, 104(S1), S43-S48.

Reiman, J. F. (2013). The Deliberately Induced Abortion of a Human Pregnancy Is EthicallyJustifiable.

Vaughn, L. (2015). Doing ethics: Moral reasoning and contemporary issues. WW Norton & Company.

Watt, H. (2016). The Ethics of Pregnancy, Abortion and Childbirth: Exploring Moral Choices in Childbearing. Routledge.

Wilson, W. J. (2012). The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. University of Chicago Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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