-- Donald J. Boyd, a senior fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government who has for three decades researched and written about states' fiscal policies, will serve as executive director of the Task Force on the State Budget Crisis, newly created by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former New York Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch.
The Task Force has been established in response to the need for better understanding of the fiscal challenges facing states, according to an announcement by Mr. Ravitch at a meeting hosted by the Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago, New York and Philadelphia on June 23. As Mr. Ravitch noted, state and local governments have the primary responsibility for delivering domestic services and for financing the majority of public infrastructure -- including health care, schools, highway and transit systems, safe drinking water and other crucial functions of government.
"The current state budget crisis threatens the investments and services that states must provide in order to sustain the country's future growth," according to a statement from Mr. Ravitch, who, as an adviser to former New York Governor Hugh Carey, helped broker a deal with public-employee unions that is credited with keeping New York City from going bankrupt in the 1970s. "We must understand the crisis before we can craft measures calculated to mitigate it. In short, the Task Force hopes to frame the future dialogue on the states' fiscal condition."
Mr. Boyd, a nationally recognized expert on states' economic conditions, has directed or conducted research for the Rockefeller Institute's Fiscal Studies program since 1995. He previously was director of tax policy and revenue analysis at the New York State Division of the Budget. His recent work on states' finances shows that while states are beginning to see revenues grow in response to an improving economy, they still face daunting long-term challenges that include employee and retiree pensions, health care costs and debt.
"You would be hard pressed to find anyone who understands state fiscal issues, financial institutions and data sources as well as Don Boyd," said Thomas Gais, director of the Rockefeller Institute. "This vital project needs his depth and credibility. There will always be disagreements over how to resolve state fiscal problems. But after this team completes its work, those debates can be grounded in a large body of basic fiscal facts."
Former Rockefeller Institute Director Richard P. Nathan will serve on the Task Force's advisory board, a prestigious group of economic experts who have served in high-ranking federal, state and local government positions. Nathan has held top positions in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and spent many years as a scholar at Princeton University and the Brookings Institution before directing the Rockefeller Institute for 20 years.
The Task Force intends to study at least five states and produce a report on its findings next year.