SCEPA's 25th Anniversary

Project Spotlight: Critical Public Finance

March 16, 2021 Written by Bridget Fisher

Critical Public Finance Mission
SCEPA’s Critical Public Finance (CPF) project investigates how the increasing financialization of municipal finance affects local government’s ability to be transparent and accountable to taxpayers as well as its effects on increasing urban inequality.

Critical Public Finance Team
SCEPA Associate Director Bridget Fisher directs the CPF project, working with SCEPA Research Associates Flávia Leite and Jose Coronado and SCEPA Senior Fellow Rick McGahey.

Critical Public Finance Research and Impact
CPF produces academic research designed to investigate the trends driving our urban political economies with an equity lens highlighting how policy implementation affects different populations.

The project released timely and impactful research on the cost of New York City's Hudson Yards, a project promised to be "self-financing" which ended up costing the city $2.2 billion in debt costs, cost overruns & spillovers, and tax breaks. These findings received attention from media including The Guardian, CityLab, and The New York Times, among others.

As a result of SCEPA’s work on tax breaks involved in Hudson Yards, SCEPA’s team was invited to partner with the New York City Council Finance Division to use a model developed by Tim Bartik of the W.E. Upjohn Institute to measure the equity effects of using tax breaks to incentivize economic development in New York. In April of 2019, initial work on the research was presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s fiscal policy series.