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Policy Outsider

Policy Outsider

By Rockefeller Institute

Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government takes you outside the halls of power to understand how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.
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Ep. 62. New York's $100 Billion Micron Deal. How Did It Happen?
Ep. 62. New York's $100 Billion Micron Deal. How Did It Happen?
In the fall of 2022, Micron, a leading advanced technology manufacturer, agreed to partner with New York State to build a $100 billion dollar semiconductor fabrication facility in upstate New York. How did this deal come to happen? How did federal and state policy, such as the CHIPS and Science Act and New York’s Green CHIPS Program, work to incentivize Micron to come to New York? And what role did local government partnerships play in the deal? On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, Kevin Younis, chief operating officer and executive deputy commissioner of Empire State Development and one of the principle architects of the Micron deal, sits down with Rockefeller Institute President Bob Megna to talk about the deal and the critical role of decades of policy in bringing it to fruition. Guests: Bob Megna, president, Rockefeller Institute of Government Kevin Younis, chief operating officer & executive deputy commissioner, Empire State Development
34:03
December 06, 2022
Ep. 61. Bad Blood: Reining in Ticketmaster
Ep. 61. Bad Blood: Reining in Ticketmaster
The recent Ticketmaster-Taylor Swift ticket purchasing debacle brought renewed attention to the stranglehold Ticketmaster holds on the live music industry. On today's episode, New York State Senator James Skoufis, a leading champion of ticket reform legislation, breaks down the problems facing the ticket industry and how state and federal policy can work to protect consumers. Guest: Honorable James Skoufis, New York State Senator 
28:57
December 01, 2022
Ep. 60. Life In and After Service: Caring for Veterans
Ep. 60. Life In and After Service: Caring for Veterans
In honor of National Veterans and Military Families Month, today's episode examines life after serving in the military as told by two veterans. We invited Aaron Gladd, chief of staff of the State University of New York and former platoon leader in the US Army, and Colonel Jim McDonough, CEO of The Headstrong Project and former director of New York State’s Division of Veterans’ Services, to share their experiences joining, serving, and transitioning out of the military. They describe the challenges many veterans face moving back into civilian life and discuss how communities and non-profits are working to fill the gaps in veterans’ services left by local, state, and federal governments.
01:05:33
November 16, 2022
Ep. 59. What's Next for New York's Environmental Bond Act?
Ep. 59. What's Next for New York's Environmental Bond Act?
On Tuesday, voters in New York overwhelmingly approved the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Bond Act. On today's episode, we invite New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Executive Deputy Commissioner Sean Mahar to discuss what this support means and what comes next for the environmental bond act. The conversation provides an overview of how funding will be prioritized and highlights the anticipated environmental and economic impacts of this investment. Guest: Sean Mahar, executive deputy commissioner, Department of Environmental Conservation
20:41
November 10, 2022
Ep. 58. A Renewed Push for Marriage Equality—Part Two
Ep. 58. A Renewed Push for Marriage Equality—Part Two
In July, a bill designed to protect same-sex marriages passed the US House of Representatives with bipartisan support. Forty-seven Republicans joined House Democrats in passing the Respect for Marriage Act. Shortly thereafter, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he was working to drum up sufficient Republican support in the Senate to pass the bill. Following weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, Schumer announced in mid-September that the vote would be delayed until after the midterm elections. To make sense of what is happening with marriage equality, we put together a two-part podcast series, featuring conversations with policymakers, experts, and advocates. In part one of this series, Rockefeller Institute Fellow Heather Trela, Senior Policy Analyst Leigh Wedenoja, and Pride Center of the Capital Region Executive Director Nate Gray answer questions like: If the US Supreme Court ruled in 2015 to legalize marriage equality nationwide, why is there now a renewed push for legislating this issue? What is the legislative and judicial history of marriage equality and how does that inform the provisions in the Respect for Marriage Act? And how is the recent uncertainty surrounding marriage equality affecting members of the LGBTQ+ community? In part two, we draw some political parallels to the current moment with a look back at the push for marriage equality in New York in 2011. To understand the political calculations and consequences of a Republican “yes” vote on this issue, Rockefeller Institute President Bob Megna talks with Senator Steve Saland, one of four Republican senators who crossed the aisle to say “aye” to the Marriage Equality Act.
34:55
October 14, 2022
Ep. 57. A Renewed Push for Marriage Equality—Part One
Ep. 57. A Renewed Push for Marriage Equality—Part One
In July, a bill designed to protect same-sex marriages passed the US House of Representatives with bipartisan support. Forty-seven Republicans joined House Democrats in passing the Respect for Marriage Act. Shortly thereafter, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he was working to drum up sufficient Republican support in the Senate to pass the bill. Following weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, Schumer announced in mid-September that the vote would be delayed until after the midterm elections. To make sense of what is happening with marriage equality, we put together a two-part podcast series, featuring conversations with policymakers, experts, and advocates. In part one of this series, Rockefeller Institute Fellow Heather Trela, Senior Policy Analyst Leigh Wedenoja, and Pride Center of the Capital Region Executive Director Nate Gray answer questions like: If the US Supreme Court ruled in 2015 to legalize marriage equality nationwide, why is there now a renewed push for legislating this issue? What is the legislative and judicial history of marriage equality and how does that inform the provisions in the Respect for Marriage Act? And how is the recent uncertainty surrounding marriage equality affecting members of the LGBTQ+ community? In part two, we draw some political parallels to the current moment with a look back at the push for marriage equality in New York in 2011. To understand the political calculations and consequences of a Republican “yes” vote on this issue, Rockefeller Institute President Bob Megna talks with Senator Steve Saland, one of four Republican senators who crossed the aisle to say “aye” to the Marriage Equality Act.
34:07
October 14, 2022
Ep. 56. Second Chances Matter: Reducing Firearm Suicides
Ep. 56. Second Chances Matter: Reducing Firearm Suicides
In 2020, the most recent year for which data are available, over half of all completed suicides in America involved a firearm–that is more than 24,000 Americans dying by firearm suicide in one year alone. However, suicide attempts involving a firearm account for fewer than 5 percent of all suicide attempts. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and for this episode, we are re-issuing a recorded Twitter Spaces conversation hosted by Jaclyn Schildkraut, interim executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium at the Rockefeller Institute and Michael Anestis, the executive director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center at Rutgers University. The discussion focuses on the risk factors associated with firearm suicide as well as what policies and tools exist to help to mitigate firearm suicides. Guests: Jaclyn Schildkraut, interim executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium Michael Anestis, executive director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center  Go in-depth: Preventing Suicide Through a Focus on Firearm Access and Storage New York State Firearm Storage Map New Jersey Firearm Storage Map Trevor Project US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Suicide Prevention Website 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline If you or anyone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please consider dialing 9-8-8 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.
58:34
September 27, 2022
Ep. 55. The Numbers Behind Student Debt Relief
Ep. 55. The Numbers Behind Student Debt Relief
The Biden Administration recently announced a student loan debt relief plan offering up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness for certain borrowers. The announcement also contained details about a new income-driven repayment plan that will reduce monthly payments for lower and middle-income borrowers. On this episode of Policy Outsider, Brian Backstrom, director of education policy studies at the Institute, joins guest host Joel Tirado to discuss the details of this relief plan and the interesting challenge of calculating the size of its benefits. Guest: Brian Backstrom, director of education policy studies at the Rockefeller Institute For more in-depth analysis, visit the student debt research series below: States Step In: Relieving the Burden of Student Loan Debt Relieving the Burden of Student Loan Debt State-Sponsored Child Investment Accounts: Helping Parents Save for College, Helping Students Avoid Loan Debt Student Debt In New York State: A Compendium of Work by the Rockefeller Institute of Government
32:39
September 13, 2022
Ep. 54. A Lot of People Still Don't have Broadband. Why?
Ep. 54. A Lot of People Still Don't have Broadband. Why?
It's not just an availability issue. While governments continue to invest in expansion of broadband infrastructure, high costs and poor digital literacy have hindered adoption of high-speed internet even where it is available. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, guest Kevin Schwartzbach, a graduate research assistant at the Rockefeller Institute, shares his research on broadband policy and investment and discusses why gaps in access and adoption persist. Guest: Kevin Schwartzbach Go in-depth: Addressing Digital Literacy and Other Reasons for Non-Adoption of Broadband How Government Can Make Broadband More Affordable Should States Fund Municipal Broadband and Cooperatives? With Billions for Broadband Incoming, How Have State and Local Governments Expanded High-Speed Internet Access?
32:09
August 08, 2022
Ep. 53. Pause: What's in New York's Crypto Mining Moratorium Bill?
Ep. 53. Pause: What's in New York's Crypto Mining Moratorium Bill?
A recently passed bill would enact a two-year moratorium on specific types of cryptocurrency mining in New York and require an environmental impact assessment of mining operations if signed by Governor Kathy Hochul. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, NYS Assemblymember Anna Kelles, the bill's sponsor, joins host Alex Morse to discuss what's in the bill, what the legislature hopes to learn from its proposed impact analysis, and how the bill fits with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), New York's landmark climate and environment legislation. Guest Honorable Anna Kelles, New York State Assemblymember  Points of Conversation 03:02 - Blockchain Basics and Cryptocurrency Validation: Proof-of-Stake vs. Proof-of-Work 13:43 - Understanding Decentralized Financing 16:51 - Pause for Examination: How Cryptocurrency Mining Operates and its Potential Impacts 26:17 - The Fracking Playbook 30:54 - How Cryptocurrency Mining Relates to the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act 38:00 - How Recent Environmental Policy Decisions Affect Future Policymaking
47:09
July 14, 2022
Ep. 52. Changing How We Talk about Mass Shootings
Ep. 52. Changing How We Talk about Mass Shootings
Changing the way we understand and talk about mass shootings can help us implement more effective gun policy. As National Gun Violence Awareness Month winds down, this episode of Policy Outsider presents a recorded Twitter Spaces conversation between the Rockefeller Institute's Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium Interim Executive Director Jaclyn Schildkraut and New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center Executive Director Michael Anestis. The wide-ranging conversation covers many aspects of mass shootings: common misconceptions, frameworks for understanding how they unfold, and the role of policy in limiting their likelihood.
52:51
June 28, 2022
Ep. 51. A Local Approach to Reducing Gun Violence
Ep. 51. A Local Approach to Reducing Gun Violence
While federal inaction to address gun violence persists, local officials face significant challenges preventing and responding to gun violence in their communities. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan discusses the state of gun violence in Albany, what the city is doing to address illegal firearms and gun violence, and what resources local governments need from federal and state governments to help ensure public safety.
30:40
June 09, 2022
Ep. 50. Innovative Uses for Roadside Right-of-Ways
Ep. 50. Innovative Uses for Roadside Right-of-Ways
Solar arrays, agriculture, pollinator plantings—these are some of the potential uses for roadside right-of-ways (ROWs), the grassy areas that run alongside the highway. Collectively, across the United States, ROWs make up an area larger than the state of New Jersey. In this follow up to her analysis, "All the Above: The Many Ways to Use Roadside Right-of-Ways," Nathan Fellow Kaitlin Stack Whitney talks in-depth with Policy Outsider host Alex Morse about the challenges and opportunities presented by this space and the innovative uses policymakers and planners are bringing to the roadside. Guest: Kaitlin Stack Whitney, Nathan Fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology
58:55
May 26, 2022
Ep. 49. Starting Young, Saving for Higher Education
Ep. 49. Starting Young, Saving for Higher Education
Higher education is a powerful tool that can help improve economic standing and mobility. For many families, however, the expense of college  presents prospective students with a dilemma: delay or forego higher education or incur significant debt in pursuit of a degree. On this episode of Policy Outsider, guest Leila Bozorg, Chief of Strategy & Policy at NYC Kids RISE, explains how her organization is working to help New York City families meet this dilemma with a new tool: college savings invested in tax-free child investment accounts. The conversation covers how these child investment accounts work, how the organization measures progress and success, and recommendations for policymakers seeking to advance equity and affordability in higher education.
36:26
April 26, 2022
Ep. 48. New York State Budget Roundup
Ep. 48. New York State Budget Roundup
Over the weekend, and about a week after it was due, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a $220 billion budget for the 2023 fiscal year. The budget includes significant investments in sectors hit hard by the pandemic, such as healthcare, a full funding of foundation aid (the state's public education funding formula), and $4.2 billion for the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. On this episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute researchers and fellows join to provide an overview of the enacted budget and put into context the investments made in specific areas, such as education, COVID recovery, local government, childcare, the forthcoming retail marijuana market, and the environment.
32:18
April 13, 2022
Ep. 47. Easing Administrative Burdens
Ep. 47. Easing Administrative Burdens
Complex government programs, such as Medicaid, are often accompanied by strict registration and eligibility requirements. These administrative burdens can frustrate and stymie potentially eligible individuals, limiting individuals’ access to public programs and legally-entitled benefits. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, University at Albany Associate Professor Ashley Fox discusses her recent article in Public Administration Review which found rule-reduction changes to ease Medicaid enrollment can improve program take-up (i.e., increase enrollment). The conversation covers the consequences of administrative burden on states and individuals and ways governments can use administrative easing to improve public programs.
36:56
March 29, 2022
Ep. 46. Behind the Fiscal Curtain: NYC, Creature of the State
Ep. 46. Behind the Fiscal Curtain: NYC, Creature of the State
New York City's top fiscal official, Jacques Jiha, Ph.D., joins Policy Outsider to discuss how the City managed its budget through the turbulence of the pandemic, how the City's budget process differs from the State's, and how the City and State work together to maintain fiscal stability in the largest metropolitan region of the country.
27:58
March 08, 2022
Ep. 45. Behind the Fiscal Curtain: The Art of Budget Making
Ep. 45. Behind the Fiscal Curtain: The Art of Budget Making
Fresh off delivering 30-day budget amendments to the NYS Legislature, NYS Budget Director Robert Mujica joined host Alex Morse and Rockefeller Institute President Bob Megna for a conversation about this year's budget, the delicate art of negotiations, and what it's like to lead the Division of the Budget through the budget process
41:50
February 23, 2022
Ep. 44. Early Interventions for Children and Families in Need
Ep. 44. Early Interventions for Children and Families in Need
Too many young children and families lack access to proper health care and early education. To address this need, the New York State Department of Health put forward the First 1,000 Days on Medicaid initiative, which aims to improve lifelong education and health outcomes for underserved children by focusing on early childhood development programs and interventions. In a new episode of Policy Outsider, guest Melodie Baker, project leader of the Rockefeller Institute’s partnership project with the Department of Health on the First 1,000 Days initiative, joins host Alex Morse to discuss how using local collective impact strategies might help strengthen these innovative practices designed to increase education attainment and health access for children and families in need.  
20:58
February 16, 2022
Ep. 43. Behind the Fiscal Curtain: Making the New York State Budget
Ep. 43. Behind the Fiscal Curtain: Making the New York State Budget
Bob Megna, president of the Rockefeller Institute of Government and former New York State budget director, joins Policy Outsider host Alex Morse to discuss the behind-the-scenes of the New York State budget process. The conversation covers the budget development timeline, the players involved, and how the current economic landscape, including the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, may affect policies, programs, and funding priorities.
39:25
February 02, 2022
Ep. 42. Afghan Refugee Resettlement
Ep. 42. Afghan Refugee Resettlement
Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced New York State will help resettle as many 1,143 Afghan nationals evacuated from Afghanistan in cities across the state. On this episode, guests Camille Mackler, founder and executive director of Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative (ARC), and Professor Sarah Rogerson, director of the Immigration Law Clinic at the Albany Law School, discuss the status of the current refugee crisis, the challenges refugees and resettlement agencies will face in the coming months, and policy changes that may help ease the resettlement process.
34:31
October 06, 2021
Ep. 41. Concrete Solutions to Climate Change
Ep. 41. Concrete Solutions to Climate Change
Production of concrete, the worlds most used building material is a major contributor to total global carbon emissions each year. On this episode of Policy Outsider, Matt Adams, a Richard P. Nathan fellow at the Rockefeller institute, and Nicola Armacost, mayor of the village of Hastings-on-Hudson, in Westchester County, NY, join host Alexander Morse to discuss a local policy initiative in Hastings-on-Hudson aimed at promoting low-carbon concrete. The conversation, which builds on a recent policy brief, also touches on the role local, state, and federal governments can play in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from concrete.
35:22
August 02, 2021
Ep. 40. The Expanded Child Tax Credit
Ep. 40. The Expanded Child Tax Credit
The expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) has the potential to dramatically reduce child poverty, improve child and parent health, and smooth fluctuations in available funds for lower-income families. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, Leigh Wedonoja, senior policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute, discusses changes to the child tax credit, how those changes make the credit operate more like the Earned Income Tax Credit, and why the CTC is predicted to improve outcomes for children and families.
20:41
July 20, 2021
Ep. 39. NYS Legislative Session Wrap: Firearm Legislation
Ep. 39. NYS Legislative Session Wrap: Firearm Legislation
The New York State 2021 legislative session wrapped up late last week with a handful of firearm bills passing the Senate and Assembly. On a new episode of Policy Outsider, Joe Popcun, executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium and director of policy and practice at the Rockefeller Institute, and Nick Simons, project coordinator at the Rockefeller Institute, discuss the major firearm bills that will be sent to the Governor, the issues those bills address, and how research can best support policymakers as they seek to disrupt the cycle of firearm-involved violence.
34:41
June 17, 2021
Ep. 38. Ghost Guns: A New Federal Rule
Ep. 38. Ghost Guns: A New Federal Rule
On May 8, in response to an executive order from President Biden, the Department of Justice proposed a new rule to limit the proliferation of "ghost guns," or firearms that do not have a unique serial number. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute Project Coordinator Nicholas Simons explains what is in the new rule, how it may impact the use of ghost guns, and the next steps for finalizing the rule. The episode also covers Simons' recent policy brief, "Ghost Guns: A Haunting New Reality," and provides background on what ghost guns are, their increasing prevalence in law enforcement seizures, and what policymakers at the state level are doing to clarify and strengthen policy surrounding their use.
25:06
May 11, 2021
Ep. 37. It's Legal - In the Weeds Pt. IV
Ep. 37. It's Legal - In the Weeds Pt. IV
New York State will legalize adult-use recreational marijuana. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute Director of Operations and Fellow Heather Trela breaks down what is in the 77,529 word marijuana legalization bill and, importantly, what is not in the bill. Trela, a federalism expert turned marijuana policy maven, brings valuable context to the discussion, comparing revenue structure, social justice provisions, and other logistical considerations in New York's legislation to the 14 other states that have already legalized recreational marijuana.
24:10
March 31, 2021
Ep. 36. Rebuilding the EPA
Ep. 36. Rebuilding the EPA
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute Deputy Director of Research Laura Rabinow discusses her recent research examining the capacity of the Environmental Protection Agency to support the Biden administration's ambitious climate and environmental goals following regulatory and administrative changes at the agency under the Trump administration and years of staffing and budget declines.
22:20
March 03, 2021
Ep. 35. H.E.L.P. Higher Education
Ep. 35. H.E.L.P. Higher Education
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute Nathan Fellow Rebecca Natow joins host, Alex Morse, to discuss her latest analysis examining the retirement of US Senator and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Lamar Alexander, the role of the HELP Committee in setting congressional agendas and actions in higher education, and the likely choice for next Senate HELP Committee chair in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
18:59
January 21, 2021
Ep. 34. Drugs on the Ballot
Ep. 34. Drugs on the Ballot
The Rockefeller Institute recently examined ballot initiatives in Oregon and Washington DC that would decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms ("magic mushrooms"). In this episode of Policy Outsider, guest Heather Trela, director of operations and fellow at the Institute, provides an update on the outcome of magic mushroom and marijuana ballot initiatives, discusses how the liberalization of marijuana throughout the US provided a blueprint for magic mushroom advocates, and shares where cities, states, and the federal government might be headed with drug policy.
19:55
November 17, 2020
Ep. 33. Policy and the Election
Ep. 33. Policy and the Election
In this episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute researchers and fellows share remarks on the important policy issues facing the winner of the presidential election. Researchers in economic development, education, climate, gun policy, and healthcare present some of the key questions, concerns, and policy challenges that lie before the nation and consider the approach the next presidential administration may take to address them. Guests: Laura Schultz, executive director of research at the Rockefeller Institute Brian Backstrom, director of educational policy studies at the Rockefeller Institute Laura Rabinow, deputy director of research at the Rockefeller Institute Joe Popcun, director of policy and practice at the Rockefeller Institute Michael Gusmano, fellow at the Rockefeller Institute
32:48
October 28, 2020
Ep. 32. The Deconstruction of the Administrative State
Ep. 32. The Deconstruction of the Administrative State
Under the Trump administration, the agencies and processes of the federal bureaucracy—i.e. the "Administrative State"—have been targeted for deconstruction and reorganization. In this episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute Fellow and Professor at Daemen College Lisa Parshall discusses the Trump administration's approach to governing, including how presidents have limited the power and scale of the federal bureaucracy and how this administration has challenged presidential and administrative norms.
29:15
October 14, 2020
Ep. 31. Voting in the 2020 Election
Ep. 31. Voting in the 2020 Election
COVID-19 has raised many questions about voting in the 2020 election: how do we keep poll workers and voters safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic? What changes can be made to make voting more accessible? What are some of the challenges voters still face? In this episode of Policy Outsider, guests Laura Bierman, executive director of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of New York State, and Jennifer Wilson, LWV legislative director, discuss changes made to voting procedures for the 2020 election and the work of LWV to expand and ensure voting access. The conversation also covers how Boards of Election across New York State are responding to the pandemic, including operational changes made to protect voters and poll workers.
25:54
October 05, 2020
Ep. 30. History of the Postal Service
Ep. 30. History of the Postal Service
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has a long history of technological innovation. It is, and has been, central to the project of democracy in the US, enabling the growth and free exchange of newspapers and information and connecting citizens to each other across the nation's expanse. In this episode of Policy Outsider, guest David Hochfelder, associate professor at the University at Albany, explains the Postal Service's mandate to provide "universal service," explores the Postal Service's history of innovation, and offers potential new uses for the USPS infrastructure that would satisfy its mandate.
23:35
September 29, 2020
Ep. 29. Epidemic in a Pandemic
Ep. 29. Epidemic in a Pandemic
In this episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute Fellows and members of the Institute's award winning Stories from Sullivan research team Patricia Strach, Katie Zuber, and Elizabeth Pérez-Chiqués discuss what has happened to substance-use treatment access and effectiveness during COVID-19. The episode presents audio clips from interviews conducted by the researchers with treatment providers and workers on the frontline followed by discussions of the researchers' impressions and findings. The episode also features an introduction by State University of New York Chancellor and former Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras who provides background on the Institute’s opioid crisis research which began during his time as president.
45:35
September 23, 2020
Ep. 28. Restorative Justice
Ep. 28. Restorative Justice
The traditional model of criminal justice in the US isolates those who commit criminal acts from both survivors and society and the social support networks that could support their healing and re-integration. At the same time, those who suffer harm are often left without closure and understanding about the harm that took place. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, guest Jenifer Lee-Gonyea, fellow at the Rockefeller Institute and associate professor of criminology at Mount Saint Mary's College, discusses the restorative model of criminal justice. Restorative justice approaches harm as an opportunity to engage in inclusive healing for those who experienced harm and those who caused it through mediation, honest dialogue, and accountability. The episode also examines restorative justice as policy at various levels of government and how the tools could be used to address broader societal ills, such as persistent racial injustice.
51:38
September 16, 2020
Ep. 27. Back to School
Ep. 27. Back to School
As students return to school amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, school districts are using different models to balance instructional and safety needs ranging from fully in-person to fully remote with a spectrum of hybrid approaches in between. On this episode of Policy Outsider, Brian Backstrom, director of education policy studies at the Rockefeller Institute, and Leigh Wedenoja, senior policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute, highlight various instructional models and discuss how parents and caregivers can prepare for a school year of uncertainty. The discussion of parent strategies will focus on access to and effective use of technology, communicating with teachers and administrators, helping students develop socio-emotional and social skills in a non-standard environment, and highlighting resources for parents who have children who are at home full- or part-time
25:11
September 08, 2020
Ep. 26. Gun Policy & Politics in a Pandemic
Ep. 26. Gun Policy & Politics in a Pandemic
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, guest Robert J. Spitzer, a distinguished service professor at SUNY Cortland and member of the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium, speaks with Consortium Executive Director Joe Popcun about recent developments in firearm policy and politics. Over the past five months, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely and suddenly upended the lives and livelihoods of many Americans, generating fear, anxiety, and uncertainty across the country. In the midst of this crisis, there has been a record increase in gun sales and a reported increase in shootings and firearm-involved deaths. At the same time, the police-involved death of George Floyd ignited civil unrest and hundreds of protests calling for police reform and social justice. Spitzer discusses New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the NRA and how that affects the battle between gun safety/control advocates and guns rights advocates. In recent years, several large, national not-for-profit advocacy organizations pushing for stricter gun regulations have refined their strategies and built up larger money pools.
41:50
August 25, 2020
Ep. 25. What It Takes To Research Gun Violence
Ep. 25. What It Takes To Research Gun Violence
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, guests Joseph Popcun, Rockefeller Institute director of policy and practice, and Nicholas Simons, project coordinator at the Institute, discuss the role of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium in finding and developing effective policy to reduce gun violence. A recent surge in shooting incidents following months of coronavirus lockdown in metropolitan areas around New York State. As a cause of death, gun violence receives far less research funding than other leading causes. Lack of federal funding for firearm fatality research over the last twenty years has made it difficult for policymakers to develop targeted, effective policy for reducing gun violence. Popcun and Simons share how the Consortium aims to fill that void by orienting gun violence researchers toward the evidence and data needs of practitioners and policymakers. By focusing attention on gun violence as a policy problem, the Consortium helps state and local governments pursue and execute effective solutions to reduce and prevent firearm-involved homicides, suicides, and injuries.
43:17
July 23, 2020
Ep. 24. COVID-19: Calculating the Balance of Payments
Ep. 24. COVID-19: Calculating the Balance of Payments
In a new episode of Policy Outsider, guest Laura Schultz, executive director of research at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, discusses the methods used in the Institute’s Balance of Payments report and how federal economic relief for COVID-19 is likely to impact state balance of payments and rankings. States throughout the nation are grappling with massive budget deficits caused by the economic downturn associated with COVID-19. While states plan for major cutbacks to critical areas like education and infrastructure, relief in the form of an additional federal stimulus bill is being negotiated in Congress. Several of the states hardest hit by the pandemic, such as New York and New Jersey, are Democrat-controlled and the debate over relief funding has become politicized, with relief funding being characterized by some as a “blue state bailout.” But, as policymakers in these states have pointed out, taxpayers in these states give more to the federal government in taxes than their states get back in federal spending—a negative balance of payments—while many “red” states get more in federal spending than they give to the federal government in taxes. Understanding how funding flows among states and the federal government provides important context for evaluating these claims and understanding the potential effects of federal stimulus spending.
14:37
June 15, 2020
Ep. 23. COVID-19: Achieving a Complete Count during a Pandemic
Ep. 23. COVID-19: Achieving a Complete Count during a Pandemic
In a new episode of Policy Outsider, guest Nicholas Simons, project coordinator at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, discusses how COVID-19 is affecting the 2020 Census and how the U.S. Census Bureau is adjusting its operations to account for disruptions from the pandemic. In mid-March, as governments in the US began responding to the emerging threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, households received detailed information from the Census Bureau on how to respond to the 2020 Census. Shortly thereafter, the Census Bureau temporarily suspended its field operations though collection of responses continues online, by mail, and by phone. Approximately 60% of households, nationally, have completed the Census. In this episode, Simons shares information on the Census Bureau’s adjusted operations, including new deadlines for self-response and nonresponse followup (NRFU) and how extending the timeline for collection efforts will delay the sharing of congressional apportionment counts with states.
20:03
June 01, 2020
Ep. 22. COVID19: In the Weeds III
Ep. 22. COVID19: In the Weeds III
On this episode of Policy Outsider, guest Heather Trela, director of operations and fellow at the Rockefeller Institute, discusses how COVID-19 is affecting the marijuana industry and efforts to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana at the state level. Trela discusses how prohibition of marijuana at the federal level means marijuana businesses throughout the nation are ineligible to apply for federal economic small business relief. For businesses in most states that were able to comply with social distancing requirements this may not be an issue. For smaller businesses in Massachusetts, where recreational marijuana dispensaries were closed to prevent an influx of out-of-state customers, the lack of relief may mean closing.
15:46
May 26, 2020
Ep. 21. COVID-19: School Districts Sharing Resources & Supporting Students
Ep. 21. COVID-19: School Districts Sharing Resources & Supporting Students
In a new episode of Policy Outsider, guest Anita Murphy, district superintendent at Capital Region BOCES, discusses how school districts and BOCES are sharing resources and working together to continue supporting students through new challenges imposed by the COVID-19 crisis and planning for a variety of budget and instructional uncertainties in the coming academic year. New York State is anticipating a $13.3 billion loss in tax revenue in the economic wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a new round of federal aid for state and local governments is being negotiated in Congress, much uncertainty still remains, and school administrators are preparing for a wide range of budget cuts. School districts that are more reliant on state aid, such as rural districts and poorer urban districts, are preparing for particularly challenging budgets.
17:56
May 19, 2020
Ep. 20. COVID-19: Learning from Home
Ep. 20. COVID-19: Learning from Home
On this episode of Policy Outsider, guest Leigh Wedenoja, senior policy analyst at the Institute, outlines existing and future challenges imposed by COVID-19 on students and the education system. Millions of Americans are adjusting to education going suddenly and fully online. The school year will likely finish online and, without a vaccine, schooling will likely be partially or fully online next fall. In this episode, Wedenoja explores how students at all ages will be affected by the disruption to their schooling and how the disruptions of COVID-19 make it difficult to plan for the challenges students are likely to face.
22:22
May 11, 2020
Ep. 19. COVID-19: Working From Home
Ep. 19. COVID-19: Working From Home
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, guest Liz Farmer, a fellow at the Future of Labor Research Center, discusses how work-from-home arrangements put in place as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to increase work-from-home trends and alter business operations.
18:26
April 20, 2020
Ep. 18. COVID-19: Government Economic Relief
Ep. 18. COVID-19: Government Economic Relief
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, the podcast of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, guest Laura Schultz, director of fiscal analysis and senior economist at the Institute, discusses the outlook of the economy and steps federal, state, and local governments are taking to support businesses and individuals in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schultz discusses how some state governments are providing assistance to businesses by delaying tax deadlines and placing moratoriums on evictions and utility shutdowns. Local governments and organizations, like economic development councils and chambers of commerce, are supporting small businesses as they work through guidance from the federal government to receive loans through the CARES Act.
14:41
April 13, 2020
Ep. 17. Using Online Learning to Bridge Cultural Divides
Ep. 17. Using Online Learning to Bridge Cultural Divides
In episode 17, “Online Learning to Bridge Cultural Divides," Dr. Rhianna Rogers, associate professor at SUNY Empire State College and Ernest Boyer Presidential Fellow at the Institute, calls in via video conferencing software to illustrate how online learning can be structured to improve student engagement. Rogers explains the importance of breaking down barriers to higher education access, such as the cost of textbooks and computer programs. Rogers, who is leading the Spring 2020 Center for Law and Policy Solutions (CLPS) Internship Program, identifies her background—living abroad in multiple countries and a lifelong learner—as an influence on her teaching methods, which are focused on bridging cultural divides through active learning and engagement.
48:27
February 03, 2020
Ep. 16. Assignments for Teachers
Ep. 16. Assignments for Teachers
The latest episode of Policy Outsider features Dr. Leigh Wedenoja, senior policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute. Wedenoja shares research presented at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) 2019 Fall Research Conference on the effects of teacher looping on student outcomes. Wedenoja explains the practice of teacher looping, or pairing a student with the same teacher for more than one year, and its effects on students at different grade levels and backgrounds. The research examines all students in grades three through 11 in the state of Tennessee and found significant improvements to test scores when students were paired with a repeat teacher. They also found that, across all grade levels, having a repeat teacher reduces absences and suspensions. Wedenoja also discusses how teacher looping often occurs by accident in schools but could actually be used as an intentional classroom assignment strategy by school administrators.
17:02
January 06, 2020
Ep. 15. Vaping in Real Time
Ep. 15. Vaping in Real Time
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, guests Heather Trela, director of operations and fellow at the Rockefeller Institute, and Trevor Craft, graduate research assistant, share insights from their research on the national vaping crisis. Trela and Craft discuss how the growth of vaping tobacco products in teens and the emergence of a vaping-related lung injury created what we now call the vaping crisis. The episode explores what actions local, state, and federal governments are taking to address the crisis and how their responses are complicated by unusual regulations surrounding vaping and marijuana. Guests: Heather Trela, director of operations & fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government Trevor Craft, graduate research assistant at the Rockefeller Institute of Government 
19:47
December 03, 2019
Ep. 14. Detecting Dyslexia
Ep. 14. Detecting Dyslexia
On the latest episode, Brian Backstrom, director of education policy studies, shares insights from a recent Rockefeller Institute forum on effective early intervention in dyslexia. Backstrom discusses what dyslexia is, the needs of students with dyslexia and of teachers who teach them, what impacts could be in store for New York if a universal dyslexia screening program is enacted, and the experiences of other states implementing this approach. The episode also features audio from the Institute-hosted forum that brought together dyslexia research experts Dr. Bennett Shaywitz and Dr. Sally Shaywitz, co-founders and co-directors of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, Dr. Jay Russell, former head of The Windward School, Tim Castanza, co-founder and executive director of Bridge Prep Charter School, and Amanda McCaleb, the literacy intervention specialist for Springfield (MO) Public Schools. Video from the forum can be found by visiting the Rockefeller Institute's Facebook page. 
21:40
November 05, 2019
Ep. 13. Gun Policy 101
Ep. 13. Gun Policy 101
This special edition of "Policy Outsider" was recorded live at a forum hosted by the Rockefeller Institute of Government and features distinguished scholar Robert J. Spitzer's presentation on gun policy. Spitzer notes that gun ownership continues to decline, and that the gun safety movement is newly invigorated, motivated, and financed. He also points out that there is substantial public support for most of the more common gun policy proposals, even among gun owners. At the same time, federal courts are proving more conservative in their rulings and agitating for broad interpretation of gun rights under the Second Amendment. Spitzer's discussion included a PowerPoint that provides an overview of the history of guns in the United States, how the nation's relationship with guns and gun policy has evolved, current gun laws and statistics, and projections for future trends concerning firearm ownership and policy. The PowerPoint is posted on The Institute's website and can be found on the Rockefeller Institute website by visiting www.rockinst.org/outsider
59:20
October 03, 2019
Ep. 12. Power to the People
Ep. 12. Power to the People
On this episode of "Policy Outsider," we have Rockefeller Institute fellow Dr. Lisa Parshall to discuss the New N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act and the effect it has had on village dissolutions. The episode highlights the Institute's recent report on village dissolutions, which detailed the motivation behind New York State's push to dissolve village governments. Parshall discusses the effect the 2010 law has had on the rate of village dissolutions and what dissolution means for village residents and neighboring communities. Parshall identifies the noneconomic reasons residents are often reluctant to dissolve their villages. Their concerns include community identity and pride, the importance of municipal buildings and symbols, festivals and community celebrations, as well as the role of local emergency services.
19:42
September 03, 2019
Ep. 11. Failing Schools: Makeover or Takeover?
Ep. 11. Failing Schools: Makeover or Takeover?
On the latest episode of “Policy Outsider,” we explain why so many turnaround efforts have failed and identifying the keys for future success. The episode highlights a recent report from the Institute on school turnaround efforts and features an interview with the report's author, Brian Backstrom, director of education policy studies at the Institute. Backstrom lays out the ineffectual fixes policymakers often use. These include keeping current school leadership intact; only providing additional resources; and choosing smaller one-time changes, such as a new curriculum versus an overhaul of the entire school's academic culture. The episode also introduces our new host, Alex Morse, a researcher with the Rockefeller Institute, who succeeds Kyle Adams, former Institute communications director. In the first segment of the episode, both Morse and Adams discuss their takeaways from creating and producing the podcast over the past several months.
01:07:54
July 26, 2019
Ep. 10. And Yet I'm Here
Ep. 10. And Yet I'm Here
We return to Sullivan County, New York, with our Stories from Sullivan researchers to hear directly from a group of people in recovery at Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties  — people who have lost friends to the epidemic, been to jail, and been brought back from the brink of overdose. They share their pathways to addiction, their struggles to begin recovery, and what kinds of support they would like to see from policymakers.  Rockefeller Institute researchers have been studying the opioid crisis on the ground in rural Sullivan County for more than 18 months, conducting more than 100 interviews with people on the frontlines of the epidemic. Read their findings here:  https://rockinst.org/stories-from-sullivan/  WARNING: This episode contains candid descriptions of addiction and the conditions surrounding addiction, and may be triggering to some people.
37:09
June 25, 2019
Ep. 9. How to Reduce Gun Homicides
Ep. 9. How to Reduce Gun Homicides
The debate about gun violence in the U.S. seems to be dominated by division and policy paralysis. But it doesn't have to be. Some of the most effective policies in reducing gun homicides are also the most popular — among gun owners and proponents of gun control alike. We talk with the author of the most recent report from the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium, a multistate initiative coordinated by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, about which policies have the best chances of making a difference. Guests:  Michael Siegel is a professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health.  Nicholas Simons is a project coordinator at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. Read the report: "What Are the Most Effective Policies in Reducing Gun Homicides?" Learn more about the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium. *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
45:09
May 31, 2019
Ep. 8. In the Weeds II - A Gateway Drug for Federalism
Ep. 8. In the Weeds II - A Gateway Drug for Federalism
What happened to legalized adult-use marijuana in New York and New Jersey? We sit down with Rockefeller Institute Chief of Staff and Fellow Heather Trela to understand why legalization efforts seem to have stalled in both states, and where we can expect things to go from here. Learn more: In the Weeds   *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
23:29
April 26, 2019
Ep. 7. Learning to Research Like a Pro
Ep. 7. Learning to Research Like a Pro
The Rockefeller Institute's Center for Law & Policy Solutions partners undergraduate research interns from the University at Albany with policy experts at the Institute to investigate a single issue of pressing state or national importance each semester. We sat down with three former interns to discuss what it was like to be thrown into the deep end of policy research -- and how they learned to swim.   *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
22:37
April 01, 2019
Ep. 6. Digging into Student Debt in New York
Ep. 6. Digging into Student Debt in New York
Forty-two percent of college graduates in New York State carry some amount student debt, with an average debt load of about $30,000. We sit down with Rockefeller Institute Director of Education Policy Studies Brian Backstrom to break down those numbers and learn what states are doing -- and can do -- to ease the burden of student debt. Learn more: A Deeper Look at Student Loan Debt in New York State   *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
23:02
February 22, 2019
Ep. 5. Who Gives and Who Gets
Ep. 5. Who Gives and Who Gets
In the balance of payments between states and the federal government, some states "win" and some states "lose." We speak with the authors of our new report, "Giving or Getting? New York's Balance of Payments with the Federal Government," about the factors that shape these funding flows. Read the full report here. *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
16:39
January 18, 2019
Ep. 4. Mankind v. Machines
Ep. 4. Mankind v. Machines
Artificial intelligence and automation technologies are bringing massive change to labor, the economy, ethics, and society. The question now is how to harness those technologies rather than being overwhelmed by them -- or overwhelmed by those who embrace them sooner. We break down the 20-year outlook with Laura Schultz, director of fiscal analysis and chief economist at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. Learn more: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Labor Force in New York State *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
28:25
January 10, 2019
Ep. 3. Dynamite Youth
Ep. 3. Dynamite Youth
We take a trip to Sullivan County, New York, with the researchers behind the Rockefeller Institute's long-term study of the opioid epidemic to hear from the people on the front lines of the crisis. Follow their research in real time with the Stories from Sullivan series.   *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
35:18
November 21, 2018
Ep. 2. From the Glass Ceiling to the Sticky Floor: Closing the Pay Equity Gap from the Bottom Up
Ep. 2. From the Glass Ceiling to the Sticky Floor: Closing the Pay Equity Gap from the Bottom Up
Whereas the "glass ceiling" refers to the last barriers a woman faces on the corporate ladder, the "sticky floor" refers to the first barriers that women and people color face when entering the workforce -- barriers that often keep them in low-paying, low-prestige, but highly necessary jobs. This special edition of "Policy Outsider" was recorded live at a forum hosted by the Rockefeller Institute of Government and the New York State Council on Women and Girls. The guests and panelists include: Catherine White Berheide, professor of sociology at Skidmore College and principal investigator for the National Science Foundation ADVANCE PAID Grant Roberta Reardon, New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Sarah Brafman, staff attorney at A Better Balance Janice Brown, president of the American Association of University Women - New York State Jill Robbins-Jabine, CEO of YWCA Western New York Beverly Cooper Neufeld, founder of PowHer New York and president of BCN Consulting Group, LLC Visit www.rockinst.org/blog to learn more. *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
01:40:55
October 30, 2018
Ep. 1. In the Weeds with Heather Trela
Ep. 1. In the Weeds with Heather Trela
How can states legalize something that is illegal under federal law? Rockefeller Institute Chief of Staff and Fellow Heather Trela explains the growing tension between states and the federal government over marijuana policy, and where it may lead.  Learn more: Clash of Laws: The Growing Dissonance between State and Federal Marijuana Policies  *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
21:23
October 19, 2018