As the Lincoln Lecture series continues this fall, two upcoming talks promise to pique interest on two compelling issues of the day: smart growth, and the property tax and school funding. Brad Graham, assistant deputy minister of the Ontario Growth Secretariat, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, Government of Ontario, will appear Monday November 2 at noon at Lincoln House for Places to Grow – Ontario’s Ambitious Growth Plan, the planning initiative for the area known as the Greater Golden Horseshoe -- 12,500 square miles of land around Toronto covering 110 municipalities, with over 8 million residents currently and forecast to grow by 3.7 million people and 1.8 million jobs by 2031. The Places to Grow plan sets out specific population and employment targets, implements a minimum intensification rate, establishes higher density targets for downtown cores and requires new greenfield development densities of 20 jobs and people per acre. The plan also works in concert with the Province’s Greenbelt Plan, which protects 1.8 million acres of environmentally sensitive natural heritage and agricultural lands in region, and includes $11.5 billion for transit in the Greater Toronto Area. The goal is to manage population growth in Ontario in a way that supports economic prosperity and achieves a high quality of life for all Ontarians. Brad Graham, an economist who has served in Ontario ministries of municipal affairs and housing, health, and finance, was recently awarded the 2010 Ontario Fellowship at the University of Toronto School of Public Policy and Governance, where his teaching and research will focus on growth and urban planning, sustainability and the importance of regions in the new economy. The talk is sponsored by the Department of Planning and Urban Form.
Thomas Downes, associate professor of economics at Tufts University, is next on Tuesday, November 3 at midday, presenting Centralization of School Finance and Property Values: Lessons from Vermont, on Vermont’s 1997 Equal Educational Opportunity Act (Act 60), aimed at reforming the state’s school finance system. The act redistributed education spending, moved towards a statewide property tax, changed tax rates among some communities, and instituted new income-based limits on tax liabilities. Downes will base his lecture on a study that examines the effects of the state’s school finance reform on property values. Downes’ research focuses primarily on the evaluation and construction of state and local policies to improve the delivery of publicly provided goods and reduce inequities in these services, with particular attention to public education. He has also pursued research on the roles of the public and private sectors in the provision of education. The talk is sponsored by the Department of Valuation and Taxation. Both Lincoln Lectures are free with lunch served but registration is required.