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Lead Researcher or Senior Policy Analyst - Fees and Fines

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is a high-caliber strategic policy institute that informs and shapes public policies to reduce poverty, promote equity, and build opportunity, while also supporting efforts to ensure progressive fiscal policies that can support these investments. It has a national reputation for conducting rigorous research and analysis, developing evidence-based policy ideas and strategies, shaping a broad array of policy debates at the federal and state level, influencing policy outcomes on a range of critical issues, and advancing strong implementation through a variety of strategies. It focuses its efforts on improving the lives of people with low or moderate incomes and examines how policies affect particular groups, including people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ people. The Center is known for its unique capacity to blend rigorous, timely analysis with effective communications that enable policymakers and the media to make use of its work.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) seeks a Lead Researcher or Senior Policy Analyst to work within its State Fiscal Policy division, primarily to lead research and analysis related to a new project to improve state and local government policy related to criminal legal fees and fines.

States and localities collect more than one-third of all taxes in the U.S. and spend half of all domestic public sector dollars. Their policy choices make a crucial difference in our lives and play an important role in determining if long-standing structural inequities are overcome, remain the same, or worsen. In the next few years, state policymakers will face especially consequential decisions over how to reinforce and strengthen the ability of state revenue systems to support key services like education and health care, to drive bold, proactive investments that help promote a more just, equitable, and inclusive democracy, and to advance other policies that expand economic opportunity and dismantle barriers to success for low-income people, communities of color, and other historically excluded groups.

In this high-stakes environment, CBPP and the State Priorities Partnership (SPP) – the network of independent state policy organizations we founded and coordinate – are advancing racial, social, and economic justice to build the foundations of a stronger future.

CBPP is building out a major, new project to ensure that monetary sanctions do not punish poverty or exacerbate racial disparities, and to eliminate the fees that states and localities impose on people in the criminal legal system and to shift to alternative, less harmful revenue sources.

The Role

The Lead Researcher will be an established policy professional with substantial experience examining state fiscal and economic policy trends, impacts, and opportunities to promote equity and advance broad-based prosperity. The Senior Policy Analyst will be an emerging leader in these areas. We have a strong preference for candidates with experience and recognized expertise in researching and communicating about criminal legal fees and fines, their consequences for people who must pay them, and the impact on the budgets of state and local governments. The Lead Researcher or Senior Policy Analyst will produce research papers, blogs, interactive online tools, and other materials aimed at educating policy makers, the media, advocates, and others about the harm done by criminal legal fees and fines and policy solutions. They will also provide analytic leadership to analysts in the SPP, especially to those at seven SPP groups that will receive grants through this project. They also will mentor more junior analysts on the team and help build a healthy, equitable, and collaborative work culture.


  • Lead the Center’s analytic work to document state and local governments’ use of criminal legal fees and fines, explain the consequences of these revenue sources, identify alternative revenue options, and build a case for these options – all using a race-forward, equity-oriented lens.
  • Provide analytic and strategic advice to state-level organizations engaged in policy advocacy and education.   
  • Produce short written analyses, longer reports, interactive web tools, testimonies to state legislatures, and public presentations as needed.
  • Interact with the news media, primarily by handling interview requests.
  • Work closely with SPP groups, at times providing analytic and strategic guidance and at other times seeking and benefiting from the insights and guidance of SPP groups.


  • For the Lead Researcher, at least ten years of experience, of which seven years should be working on tax, budget, and/or economic issues at the state or federal level as legislative staff, executive branch staff, and/or as an independent researcher or advocate.
  • For the Senior Policy Analyst, at least seven years of experience, of which five years should be working on tax, budget, and/or economic issues.
  • A graduate degree in a relevant field may be substituted for two years of work experience. Strong preference for researchers with experience and recognized expertise on state and local government policies related to criminal legal fees and fines or closely related policies.
  • Demonstrated skill/experience in developing state-level strategies to improve public policies. Strong preference for expertise in the development and provision of refundable tax credits.
  • Excellent communications skills, including strong writing, speaking, and interpersonal skills.
  • A demonstrated commitment to reducing racial, gender, and other inequities across all lines of difference.
  • Strong quantitative and analytic skills, including a facility with spreadsheets and a penchant for accuracy.
  • Demonstrated skill/experience in analyzing complex fiscal policy issues, explaining those issues (in writing and orally) to broader audiences, and explaining the impact of those issues on families and hard-hit communities.
  • Demonstrated skill/experience engaging effectively with staff at partner organizations and mentoring analysts with less experience.
  • Five to 10 percent travel is required. 

CBPP is currently operating on a hybrid work schedule of two in-office days (Tuesday and Wednesday) per week, as well as the first Thursday of each month. We have a preference for candidates who will work in our Washington, D.C. office during in-office days, but candidates who may only work remotely are still encouraged to apply.

This position reports to the Deputy Director, State Policy Research.

Terms of Employment: Full-time; exempt. This is a two-year term position.
Bargaining Unit Status: This is a bargaining unit position.

Please upload a cover letter and resume. In your cover letter, please include a discussion of what draws you to state fiscal policy analysis.


Salary and title commensurate with experience, excellent benefits (including health insurance, vision and dental coverage, life and long-term disability insurance, retirement, MERP, and DCAP), and generous vacation, sick leave, and holiday schedules. 

Please submit your application here.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is an Equal Opportunity Employer that values and welcomes diversity in the workplace and strongly encourages all qualified persons to apply regardless of race, color, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, credit information, pregnancy or parental status, family responsibilities, personal appearance, creed, military or veteran status, religion, ancestry or national origin, union activities, disability, or other status protected by applicable law.