The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Vermont
In November 2011, Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell and Speaker of the House Shap Smith jointly submitted a letter of invitation requesting that the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative help “guide our thinking about our budget development system design.” They committed to piloting the model in 2012 and familiarizing policymakers with the methodology and preliminary findings with the goal of having it “increasingly functional for the fiscal year 2014 budget-building process.”
Senator Campbell and Representative Smith designated the Legislative Joint Fiscal Office to lead the implementation effort with “extensive Administration support and data assistance.” Nathan Lavery, business manager and fiscal analyst, serves as the Results First project manager and has assembled a work group that includes analysts from within the office and across agencies and criminal justice research institutions. Steve Klein, chief fiscal officer, serves as the liaison between the technical team of the fiscal office and the Vermont Legislature. The project has strong support from legislative leadership as well as relevant committees, including the Joint Fiscal and Government Accountability committees.
The technical team completed model implementation in fall 2012 and has spent the past several months reviewing and vetting the preliminary results with key stakeholders. In March 2013, they released the issue brief Community High School of Vermont, or CHSVT, that describes the results of a program-costs analysis conducted as part of implementing the Vermont Results First model. The report describes the Results First approach and how the costs analysis contributed to the presentation of options for increasing cost-efficiency in the delivery of CHSVT, which was demonstrated to have a high per-student cost.
The enacted fiscal 2014 budget includes less funding for the Community High School of Vermont; through several presentations to policymakers, the team’s CHSVT issue brief helped inform this decision. In addition, the Vermont Legislature passed S.1, establishing a Criminal Justice Consensus Cost-Benefit Working Group “to develop a criminal and juvenile justice cost-benefit model for Vermont for the purpose of providing policymakers with the information necessary to weigh the pros and cons of various strategies and programs, and enable them to identify options that are not only cost-effective, but also have the greatest net social benefit.” One of the Working Group’s charges is to “develop estimates of costs associated with the arrest, prosecution, defense, adjudication, and correction of criminal and juvenile defendants in Vermont by using the cost-benefit methodology developed by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy and currently used collaboratively by the Joint Fiscal Office and the Pew Charitable Trusts for the Vermont Results First Project.”
The team is planning to conduct a series of similar issue briefs to help inform policy and budget decisions; the next topic will likely be electronic monitoring, a program that has attracted the interest of policymakers.
- Community High School of Vermont Issue Brief (March 2013)
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative is a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.