In order to add vital information to the critical pension debate in Rhode Island , our Center for Freedom has assembled an esteemed team of national pension experts who will complement our Center’s work by contributing commentary and analysis in the coming weeks and months.
State and Local Task Force Activities:
3/21/2012: Center for Freedom Announces Municipal Pension Home Pages and new city data
Rich Danker: Project Director for Economics at American Principles Project, Danker manages initiatives on public employee pension reform and monetary policy. He presented and won approval for model pension reform legislation at the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization of nearly 2,000 state legislators. His work on pension issues has appeared in Investors Business Daily, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Washington Examiner, among others. He is a columnist with Forbes Opinions. Danker has a master’s degree in public policy and business administration from the Pepperdine School of Public Policy and Graziadio School of Business and Management.
Eileen Norcross:a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Norcross is lead researcher on the State and Local Policy Project. Her work focuses on the question of how societies sustain prosperity and the role civil society plays in supporting economic resiliency. Her primary research interests include fiscal federalism and institutions, state and local governments, and economic development.
Bob Williams:President of State Budget Solutions, a non-partisan organization advocating for fundamental reform and REAL solutions to the state budget crises. Bob is a former state legislator, gubernatorial candidate and official with the General Accountability Office. Bob is a national expert in fiscal and tax policies, election reform and disaster preparedness. Because of his unique experience and expertise, Bob is a frequent guest on talk radio and at public forums. His commentary on state budget solutions appears frequently in newspapers, journals and online publications.
Williams is the Founder and Senior Fellow of the Freedom Foundation, a public policy organization in Olympia, Washington, dedicated to the advancement of individual liberty. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Pennsylvania State University. Bob worked as a GAO auditor of the Pentagon and Post Office before moving to Washington state where he served five terms in the Washington state legislature and was the 1988 Republican nominee for governor. He is a former certified public accountant. Currently Bob is the private sector chair of the ALEC Tax & Fiscal Policy Task Force.
Jonathan Williams: director of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Prior to joining ALEC, Williams served as staff economist at the non-partisan Tax Foundation, authoring numerous tax policy studies. His work has been featured in many publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Forbes and Investor’s Business Daily. With Dr. Arthur Laffer and Steve Moore, Williams co-authored Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer Economic Competitiveness Index. He has been a contributing author to the Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report and has written for the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In addition, Williams is a contributing author of “In Defense of Capitalism” (Northwood University Press, 2010).
In addition to testifying before numerous legislative bodies across the US, Williams is a frequent guest on talk radio shows and has appeared on numerous television outlets, including the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Fox Business News. Williams graduated magna cum laude from Northwood University in Midland, Mich., majoring in economics, banking/finance, and business management. While at Northwood, he was the recipient of the prestigious Ludwig von Mises Award in Economics.
Jagadeesh Gokhale: a Cato senior fellow, Mr. Gokhale is currently a member of the Social Security Advisory Board. He is recognized internationally as an expert on entitlement reform, labor productivity and compensation, U.S. fiscal policy and the impact of fiscal policy on future generations. He works with Cato’s Project on Social Security Choice to develop reforms for programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Gokhale served in 2002 as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Treasury and in 2003 as a visiting scholar with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He was the senior economic adviser to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland from 1990 to 2003. Gokhale holds a Ph.D. in economics from Boston University.
The Center for Freedom also arranged for a national state budget expert, Josh Barro, to appear at a RIPEC hosted pension reform forum held on October 21, 2011. Barro, who is not part of the task force, is a Walter B. Wriston Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, focusing on state and local fiscal issues. He is the co-author of the Empire Center for New York State Policy’s “Blueprint for a Better Budget”. His recent work has included studies on public employee pensions and on property-tax reform. He is editor of the Manhattan Institute’s website, www.PublicSectorInc.org, a national forum to probe problems and develop solutions on issues in state and local governments.
Barro is a frequent television, radio, and print commentator on fiscal and economic issues. He writes bi-weekly on fiscal issues for RealClearMarkets.com, is a regular contributor on National Review Online and has also written for publications including the New York Post, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, National Review, and City Journal. Prior to joining the Manhattan Institute, Barro served as a staff economist at the Tax Foundation, and worked as a commercial real estate finance analyst for Wells Fargo Bank. Barro holds a B.A. from Harvard College.