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Dr. John Foster

The past year has been a busy one for John Foster, an Assistant Professor in PAPA since Fall 2012. In December 2018, a paper that he co-authored with Eugenia F. Toma and Alex Combs from the University of Kentucky was published in Public Finance and Management, which is a respected public finance field journal. The paper, entitled “Local Responses to School Finance Equalization: Wealth or Place?”, is an investigation of the strength of the relationship between school district property wealth and state and local revenues for K-12 education among Kentucky school districts and how that relationship has evolved in the aftermath of the state’s landmark 1990 school finance and performance reform, the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA). Though the reform initially enhanced the progressivity of the school finance system by weakening the link between local property wealth and funding per pupil, that link has regained strength over the past two decades as local revenue growth in relatively wealthy districts has greatly outpaced growth in poorer districts. As a result, district property wealth inequality contributes to district funding inequality to about as large a degree as it did prior to the reform. Professor Foster is also collaborating with Toma, Combs, and Erin Troland, an economist for the Federal Reserve Board, on a study of a Kentucky state property reassessment program for chronically underassessing counties. The focus of the study is on whether the reassessment program promoted long-term growth in county assessed value and school district property tax revenue. Professor Foster is working another project in this vein that examines variation in the manner in which school districts with different levels of social capital alter their budgets in response to increases in state funding. Professor Foster presented preliminary results at the annual meeting of Association for Budgeting and Financial Management in Denver, CO, in October 2018.

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