Dylan joined ITEP in 2016. Prior to joining ITEP, he worked as a Fiscal Policy Analyst at OpenSky Policy Institute, which provides research, analysis, education, and leadership around budget and tax policy debates in the state of Nebraska. Before OpenSky, he worked as a Research Associate at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C., focusing on a range of state fiscal policy issues. He holds a BA in Political Science from Arizona State University and an MA in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University. He lives and works in lovely Lincoln, Neb.dylan at itep.org
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The COVID-19 pandemic is an extraordinarily challenging time, as we see harm and struggle affecting the vast majority of our families, businesses, public services, and economic sectors. No one will be unaffected by the crisis, and everyone has a stake in the recovery and faces tough decisions. In the world of state fiscal policy, where revenue shortfalls are likely to be far bigger than can be filled by the initial $150 billion in federal aid or absorbed through funding cuts without causing major harm, tax increases must be among those decisions. Even with more federal support, states will need home-grown revenue solutions in the short, medium, and long terms as the crisis and its fiscal fallout intensify, subside, and eventually give way to a new normal. States must balance their budgets, and research shows that they harm their economies when they choose deep funding cuts to vital public investments over increasing tax contributions from those who can afford them.
The COVID-19 novel coronavirus’s effects on public health and economies at all scales are creating a daunting situation for state budgets as well. Lawmakers can choose and prioritize their responses through a straightforward approach similar to that taken by health professionals: marshal and reinforce available resources, triage response options to prioritize the most vital services and most vulnerable people, and enact or strengthen the policies that will help address longer-term issues as well as immediate emergencies.