AUTHORS

Liz Farmer -- Staff Writer. As GOVERNING's finance reporter, Liz covers state and local budgets, pensions and other public-sector fiscal issues. Before joining GOVERNING, Liz wrote for the Washington Examiner, where she covered D.C. city hall politics and local government. She also covered the regional economy and development and has written extensively on the region’s rapidly changing socio-economic structure. 

September 16, 2014

Arizona Doesn't Have to Follow Federal Laws -- Or Does It?

A sovereignty measure on Arizona's ballot this November will let voters decide whether or not the state can forgo enforcing certain federal laws like Obamacare.
September 12, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Ray Rice, Cleveland Clinic's 100-Year Plan and Commitment-Phobes

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
September 12, 2014

Pensions' Unfunded Liabilities Still Going Up

A new survey finds that pension funding levels across all states and major cities inched downward in 2013 and that cities are bearing a greater burden in their budgets than states.
September 8, 2014

Treasury Secretary Calls for Reform to Keep Corporations from Fleeing Taxes

Rich people and corporations who keep money in foreign tax havens cost states $39.8 billion in 2011. Jack Lew says its time to stop them.
September 5, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Taxes, Chi-Town, and Rock and Roll

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
September 3, 2014

Proposition 2: The Latest Attempt to Fix California's Unpredictable Budget

Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing a ballot measure he says will institutionalize fiscal responsibility and saving. The complicated amendment will be up to voters this fall.
September 1, 2014

Jonathan Lippman: A Crusader for the Poor and Drug-Addicted

New York's top judge is the brain behind many ideas that have upended the court system nationwide including legal aid for the poor, drug courts and foreclosure protections.
August 29, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: D.C. Interference, Let's Make a Deal and Urban Poverty

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
August 29, 2014

Alabama Is the Latest State to Try to Ban Foreign Law in Courts

In what some call an effort to demonize the Islamic faith, all but 16 states have recently considered banning their courts from taking foreign, international or religious law into account.
August 28, 2014

States Where Government Aid Goes the Furthest

Two new studies question federal funding formulas for public assistance. Are some states getting shortchanged?
August 28, 2014

How the Recession Beefed Up Sister City Relationships

U.S. cities traditionally develop relationships with foreign cities for diplomatic, cultural or educational purposes. But more and more are looking to them for economic development.
August 22, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Rhyme Time, Slow Money and Water Works

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
August 20, 2014

Health-Care Cuts Driving Public Workers' Retirement Delays

A new survey offers insight into the reasons government employees are increasingly putting off retirement.
August 8, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: L.A.'s Fail, Shopping Around and Delivering the News

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
August 6, 2014

Missouri Voters Reject Lottery Funding for Veterans

The state would have been the fifth to put part of their lottery proceeds toward veterans programs.
August 4, 2014

Missouri May Become 5th State to Use Lottery Money to Help Veterans

Right now, the state's lottery proceeds exclusively go toward education. But voters could change that Tuesday.
August 1, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Flowers' Power, Taylor Swift and Keepin' the Faith

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
August 1, 2014

States Try to Prepare for the Economy’s Wild Ride

Partially because of tax policies, state budgets have become increasingly unpredictable. But a few states are finding ways to manage the craziness.
August 1, 2014

Hawaii Wants to Enter and Win the Digital Age

After years of underinvesting in IT, the state is seeking to transform from one of the worst to one of the best digitally run in the country.
August 1, 2014

Will Oregon Be the First State with a College Trust Fund?

It's up to voters in November to decide whether the state will change the way it funds public college scholarships.
July 31, 2014

How to Build a Rainy Day Fund

A new report shows how states could have weathered the recession better.
July 29, 2014

Can Grad Schools Bridge the Divide Between Policy and Public Finance?

New survey data shows the gap between policy wonks and finance geeks could be shrinking.
July 25, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Amen for NYC, Watching Illinois and Payback in Kentucky

This week's roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
July 22, 2014

Florida to New York: Our Business Climate Is Better Than Yours

As New York tries to lure Floridians up north, the Sunshine State's CFO wrote Gov. Andrew Cuomo to dispute New York's ad campaign claims.
July 18, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Detroit's Bigger Pension Problem, Games on the Hill and a Win for Munis

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
July 16, 2014

Has S&P Been Exaggerating Local Governments' Stability?

One analyst says the new way the credit rating agency scores local governments downplays the risk investors are taking and could encourage ratings shopping.
July 11, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Uh Oh in Illinois, DC Water Puns and Cautious About State Income

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
July 8, 2014

The Not-So-Sunny Side of Pension Obligation Bonds

Some governments, particularly those with money problems, borrow to quickly pay down their pension obligations. But a new study shows it can leave them more financially vulnerable.
July 3, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Independence Day Edition

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
July 1, 2014

New Tennessee Law Insulates State Credit Rating from Cities' Financial Problems

Credit markets view the move as a positive for the state but negative for municipalities.
July 1, 2014

What Governments Need to Know About the New Municipal Advisor Rule

A new rule about who can give governments financial advice went into effect, but how to apply it is far from resolved.
June 27, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: The Good, the So-So and the Almost Ugly

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
June 27, 2014

Economic Gardening Is Growing, But What Is It?

Instead of trying to lure big companies with tax incentives, more and more places are trying to increase the number of local businesses to boost their economies.
June 26, 2014

Are Pensions Finally Fed Up with Social Divesting?

In the past, pension funds have pulled their investments as a way of spurring change. But they’re changing their strategy when it comes to oil, coal and gas companies.
June 25, 2014

The SEC Halts Fraudulent Bond Offerings in Harvey, Illinois

As the SEC steps up enforcement against states and municipalities, it's now investigating one suburban town for allegedly diverting at least $1.7 million in bond proceeds.
June 20, 2014

D.C. Water Considers First-Ever Century Bond by a Public Utility

D.C. Water and Sewer Authority is contemplating being the nation's first public utility to issue a bond that's paid off over 100 years.
June 20, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Fight Club Edition

This week's roundup of money (and other) news that governments can use.
June 17, 2014

How the Pizza Guy Helped Change Michigan's Higher Education Funding

Michigan is seeing its first major funding increase for higher education in more than a decade, and it's thanks in part to a plan by businesses to improve the state's workforce.
June 13, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Mo' Money, Mo' Problems and a Pension Lesson from Washington Teachers

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
June 12, 2014

Can Kentucky Stop Nonprofits from Abandoning Pension Obligations?

The Kentucky Retirement System -- the worst-funded in the nation -- is appealing a ruling that allowed a nonprofit to leave the state with its unfunded pension liabilities.
June 12, 2014

NASBO: State Spending Will Slow in 2015

A new survey finds that 42 states plan on spending more next fiscal year than they did this fiscal year, but most increases will be relatively small.
June 6, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Scary Pensions and Puerto Rico's Red Alert

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
June 6, 2014

What Corrupt States Spend Their Money On

A study finds that more corrupt states spend more money on construction, highways and police protections and less on health, education and other public services.
June 2, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Pension Bonanza and New York's Potential Gambling Problem

This week's roundup of money (and other) news that governments can use.
June 1, 2014

The 7 Deadly Sins of Public Finance

There’s no sure-fire way to get fiscal policy right. But there are a few simple ways to get it disastrously wrong.
June 1, 2014

The Return of Local Currencies

The past decade has seen a resurgence of these boosterish bucks. But do they actually redirect spending to mom-and-pop shops instead of big box stores and online retailers?
May 23, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Oklahoma's Pension, Jilted Bondholders and State Debt Loads

A roundup of money (and other) news that governments can use.
May 20, 2014

How Early Should We Teach Financial Literacy?

Chicago's treasurer recently launched an initiative to make financial literacy a regular piece of the curriculum for grade schoolers.
May 19, 2014

Why's the SEC Asking Governments to Tell on Themselves?

A new self-reporting initiative creates a prisoner's dilemma between governments and underwriters.
May 16, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Pension Drama, Open Data and Pregnant Teens

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
May 12, 2014

The Difference Between a Sustainable Budget and a Balanced Budget

A balanced budget isn’t always a healthy one.
May 9, 2014

The (Rivalry) Week in Public Finance: Showdown Central

This week's roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
May 7, 2014

Clippers' Potential Sale Kicks Up Relocation Debate

In the aftermath of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racially derogatory comments, some are urging the team to move 30 miles south to Orange County.
May 5, 2014

This City is Heading Down Detroit's Path

North Las Vegas could be the next city to risk bankruptcy if its current trends continue, a new report warns.
May 5, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Surprise in New Jersey, Puerto Rico's Balancing Act and a D.C. Shoutout

This week's roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
May 1, 2014

Canada's Global Player in the Privacy Debate

Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian’s ideas are the basis for what may be America’s next consumer privacy law. But her ideas have fierce critics.
May 1, 2014

Confronting China’s Skyrocketing Local Debt

Like the U.S., China will have to change how local officials think about public finance if it wants to stop its growing debt problems.
April 30, 2014

Is Your State Prepared for the Next Economic Bust?

A new S&P report ranks how states have recovered from the recession and warns some states about policies they're pursuing.
April 25, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Helping Hands, Uncle Sam and Illinois

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
April 23, 2014

Public-Sector Unions' Newest Members: College Athletes?

A recent court ruling has spurred some states to decide whether college athletes can organize.
April 18, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Economic Euphemisms, Struggling Cities and Silver Trumps Gold

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
April 16, 2014

Idaho’s Magic Valley: Miracle or Magic Trick?

Can southern Idaho become to food what Silicon Valley became for the tech industry?
April 14, 2014

It's Time for Illinois to Make Some Big Financial Decisions

A new report says the state faces key questions in 2014 that could have a lasting impact on its financial future.
April 11, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Detroit, UConn Dominance and Pension Warnings

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
April 9, 2014

State and Local Tax Burdens Are Falling -- But Not Everywhere

The burden that all state and local taxes place on Americans has fallen after hitting a national high in 2010.
April 1, 2014

Why Do Cash-Strapped Governments Have Rich Citizens?

Boom times in oil and agriculture have brought new wealth to people in many rural counties. But the money in bank accounts isn't translating into more money for government.
March 28, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Chris Christie, Waterworks and the Miracle on Ice

A roundup of money (and other) news that governments can use.
March 28, 2014

Oregon's Complicated Property Tax Rates Favor Higher-Valued Houses

Property tax rules tying housing values to decades-old property assessments in Oregon are creating a skewed system that’s bleeding into sale prices in Portland, a new study has found.
March 25, 2014

Detroit's Bankruptcy Exit Plan Threatens Its Financial Credibility

Detroit's plan of adjustment out of bankruptcy pays creditors pennies on the dollar, a move that could hurt its ability to borrow in the future.
March 24, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Clear Skies, Bad Moons and Superstorm Sandy

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
March 18, 2014

Video: How Do Governments Borrow Money?

A video explainer on the mechanics and players that make the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market work.
March 18, 2014

Mayors Rally to Defend Block Grant Funding

Even though Obama proposes cuts, mayors are asking Congress not to touch Community Development Block Grant funding (which, unlike most federal funding, flows directly to cities).
March 14, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Snitches, Trash Pickup and Can I Get an Amen?

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
March 13, 2014

Can Cities and Suburbs Work Together?

One Arizona mayor argues it makes more sense to fund cities and their suburbs as large metro areas, rather than as politically separate entities.
March 12, 2014

Looming Retiree Health-Care Costs? Let the Feds Help.

As retiree health-care costs soar, maybe state and local governments would be wise to shift some of the burden to Uncle Sam, according to a new report.
March 9, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Chi-town, Muni Bonds and Some New England Love

A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
March 3, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Economic Triage, Tax Reform and Harrisburg's Freedom

This week's roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
March 1, 2014

Bankrupt Cities? What About Distressed Cities?

Bankruptcy grabs the headlines, but distressed cities are a more widespread problem – one that few states know how to address.
February 27, 2014

New Mexico Debates New Lobbyist Rules

Eight states make ex-lawmakers wait two years before they can become lobbyists, and New Mexico may join them.
February 25, 2014

Why's the SEC's New Municipal Advisor Rule So Confusing?

What governments need to know about where they should go to seek financial advice.
February 24, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Bad Weather, a Junk Sale and Two Thumbs Up from the Street

This week's roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
February 19, 2014

Facebook Helps Chattanooga Earn Employees' Trust on Pension Reform

A Facebook page created to enlighten people about the mayor's "attack" on the public safety pension fund helped change the tone of the conversation and got some employees to actually support reform.
February 17, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Detroit's Desperation, Downgrade Trends and Puerto Rico's Bad Week

This week's roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
February 14, 2014

Michigan Budget Director Leaving for Alma Mater

After balancing Michigan's budget and creating sweeping tax reforms, John Nixon, a former POY, is taking a position at the University of Utah.
February 10, 2014

The Week in Public Finance: Debt Limit, Moodiness and Dire Straits

This week's roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
February 5, 2014

The Politics of Being a City CFO

It would be naive to say that politics is not part of Chief Financial Officers' job. But for them, the challenge is to prove that their allegiance is to the balance sheets.
February 3, 2014

Bitcoin Users Avoid Cumbersome Regulation

Bitcoin scored a win with a new ruling that keeps many of its users free from cumbersome federal regulations. But state and local governments can still regulate the virtual currency.
February 3, 2014

The Week in Public Finance

This week's roundup of money (and other) news that governments can use touches on retirement security, ridiculously cold weather, superdowngrades and more.
February 1, 2014

Financial Illiteracy: One of Government’s Biggest and Least-Discussed Problems

Failure to understand financial outcomes is more dangerous to states and localities than ever, and there’s a big gap between what public leaders know about finance and what they need to know.
February 1, 2014

A Victim Himself, Georgia’s Revenue Commissioner Tackles Tax Fraud

In 2012, the federal government issued $5.2 billion in tax refunds to people who falsified their identity. Georgia found a way to keep that money out of scammers’ pockets.
January 31, 2014

For Super Bowl Security, State and Local Cops Sharing Info at Unprecedented Levels

Less than a year after the Boston Marathon bombing, in which social media and crowdsourcing proved instrumental to finding the suspects, this year’s Super Bowl security technology pools resources in a way that that uses data to paint the most comprehensive picture yet.
January 30, 2014

Jacksonville Mayor Travels with NFL Team to Woo Business

When the Jaguars played in London last year, the Florida city's mayor tagged along and used the trip to convince a top financial investment firm to open a new office in Jacksonville.
January 29, 2014

States Watching Obama's Retirement Account Plan, 'MyRA'

The president signed an executive order Wednesday to offer retirement accounts to workers who don’t have access to them. The program will be watched closely by states contemplating similar solutions.
January 28, 2014

How Accountability and Transparency Are Improving Public Finance

These buzzwords can instill fear and trepidation in even the most progressive and tech-savvy public officials, but open information really does improve how cities operate.
January 28, 2014

Finance 101 Glossary

Crucial (and complicated) concepts in public money explained.
January 28, 2014

How Are Pensions Protected State-by-State?

Over the last century, states have adopted the idea that pensions are a form of deferred compensation and, along with that change, has come certain protections.
January 27, 2014

Ratings Agency Says Michigan Governor's $350M Pledge for Detroit is Bad for Business

The Fitch Ratings agency has panned Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to save Detroit’s pension fund, calling it “troubling” for bondholders.
January 27, 2014

The Week in Public Finance

This week's roundup of money (and other) news that governments can use touches on the California drought, college sports and more.
January 23, 2014

Michigan County Executive Under Fire for Controversial Quips About Detroit

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has spent this week on the defensive after he was quoted harshly criticizing Detroit in a controversial New Yorker article.
January 21, 2014

The Week in Public Finance

This week's roundup of money (and other) news that governments can use touches on on the muni market rebound, California's grooviness and more.
January 15, 2014

NGA Chair to Feds: "Please Do Not Get in Our Way"

During this year's State of the States address, governors continued their push for more control over their economic futures.
January 14, 2014

In Abandoned Detroit, Group Tries to Lure Writers with Free Rent

A grassroots organization plans to give away abandoned houses to writers who agree to move to the bankrupt city and boost its arts community and economy. So far, it's not costing the city a dime.
January 1, 2014

The Top 10 Legislative Issues to Watch in 2014

Plus six trending issues that could be big this year.
December 24, 2013

Top 10 Public Finance Stories in 2013

After years of declining revenue, the money began slowly tricking back in for states and localities in 2013. But there still was still a huge mess left to clean up.
December 19, 2013

Expiring Tax Deductions Could Mean Less Revenue for States

States with no income tax could see reduced consumer spending in 2014 if a federal tax deduction is allowed to expire.
December 18, 2013

What the Volcker Rule Means for the Municipal Market

One provision of the finalized Volcker Rule could cause headaches for states and localities that issue bonds.
December 16, 2013

When Cities and Counties Fight, Sometimes It's the Animals That Suffer

A dispute this fall between the city of Bakersfield and Kern County in California over animal shelter costs shows just how inter-local agreements can easily fall apart without proper nurturing.
December 13, 2013

Detroit's Bankruptcy Doesn't Mean More Cities Will Follow

With every municipal bankruptcy, there usually comes the chorus of warnings that more cities will join.
December 11, 2013

Federal Budget Deal Could Provide Temporary Relief for States

If passed, the two-year budget deal would shift planned spending cuts and alleviate some of the funding uncertainties that have plagued state and local governments.
December 5, 2013

Should States Pay Attention to Bitcoin?

As the virtual currency climbs in popularity and value, state regulators would be wise to start figuring out a way to make it safe and user-friendly in their borders, experts say.
December 4, 2013

Illinois’ Pension Reform Doesn’t Fix State's Credit Problems

Illinois’ status as the lowest-rated U.S. state won’t necessarily improve now that lawmakers have passed a measure to overhaul the state’s underfunded pensions.
December 3, 2013

Detroit Becomes Biggest U.S. City Ever Eligible for Bankruptcy

Public pensions were dealt a historic blow Tuesday when a Detroit bankruptcy judge sided with the city in ruling that entitlements could be subject to cuts in municipalities under Chapter 9 protection.
December 1, 2013

The Public Employee 'Silver Tsunami' Looms for Governments

The long-anticipated wave of government worker retirements was delayed by the recession. But now, some agencies report signs it's starting to begin.
December 1, 2013

Bill to Require Annual Pension Reports Gaining Traction in Congress

There’s a proposal in Congress that opponents say would create headaches for public pension managers and could make it harder to finance infrastructure development.
November 26, 2013

Detroit's Pension Is Actually Well-Funded, So What's All the Fuss?

The pension system is not to blame for Detroit’s woes – but Detroit's risky investments to prop up the pension system sure didn't help.
November 25, 2013

Analyst: City Bonds Still a Good Investment Despite Slow Market

A meager growth environment could have issuers tapering their borrowing, but local governments are still expected to be a stable investment.
November 22, 2013

Federal Government Budget Problems Make State Budgeting Impossible

As the nation’s governors and their staffs are knee-deep in numbers, policies and late nights, there's one certainty this budget-writing season: Don’t count on anything.
November 18, 2013

What Cities Need to Know in the New Credit Ratings Era

As agencies revamp their criteria, seemingly conflicting actions have some scratching their heads.
November 11, 2013

What Other Cities Can Learn from Baltimore's Outcome-Based Budgeting

In contrast to other cities, Baltimore has increased its savings while lowering the property tax rate. But Baltimore's budgeting style is a hard sell.
November 6, 2013

Texas Becomes Last State to Allow Reverse Home Mortgages

Texas voters have approved a measure that makes it easier for older homeowners to downsize their homes without getting hit twice on closing costs.
November 4, 2013

Was the Shutdown Bad Advertising for Working in Government?

Are the bad vibes at the federal level encouraging more interest at the lower levels – or is it bad advertising all around for the public sector?
November 3, 2013

Texas Homeowners Proposition Would Bring State In Line with Nation

Texas is the only state that doesn't allow reverse mortgages for the purchase of a home.
October 31, 2013

After Shutdown, Weary Unemployment Offices Tasked with Getting Money Back

Agencies were quick to process claims during the shutdown, but the way states are going about getting that money back from federal employees could be a lengthy one.
October 14, 2013

Is There a Plot Against Pensions?

What may seem like a mathematical quibble has ballooned into an all-out war between two ends of the spectrum with no clear end in sight.
October 3, 2013

Retiree Health Benefits May Be Harder to Cut If Court Ruling Holds

Retiree health benefits, commonly treated by governments as malleable when times are tough, may be harder to slash if a recent California court ruling holds.
October 2, 2013

What the Debt Ceiling Default Could Mean for States and Localities

If Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling later this month, state and local programs could experience massive spending cuts. But the impact depends on a number of factors, experts say.
October 1, 2013

State Treasurers Caught in Politics’ Crosshairs

As finances grow tighter and pension liabilities stay in the spotlight, treasurers in several states have been clashing with their peers about how best to manage the money.
September 25, 2013

Facing Possibility of Federal Mandates, States Urged to Voluntarily Improve Financial Reporting

In an effort to avoid reporting mandates from the SEC, states are being urged to voluntarily disclose information about their finances in a more formalized way.
September 19, 2013

Moody's Proposes Making Pension Liabilities a Bigger Factor in Bond Ratings

Moody's proposes making pension liabilities a bigger factor in bond ratings, which may lead cities to make better financial decisions.
September 19, 2013

Can Public Employees Be Trusted to Choose the Right Retirement Plan?

We trust our public employees with taxpayers’ dollars, public resources and essential services -- but does any of that mean they’ll make the right choice for their own retirement?
September 10, 2013

On Tech Tax, Can Massachusetts Succeed Where Others Have Failed?

As services take over the economy, the traditional sales tax has become less helpful to state revenues. Despite several states' failed attempts to tax services, Massachusetts is trying it again.
September 3, 2013

How Detroit Put a Rain Delay on El Paso's Stadium Financing

Detroit's bankruptcy rattled the muni bond market when El Paso needed it most.
August 29, 2013

San Bernardino Becomes 3rd California City to Get Bankruptcy Protection

The ruling, which makes San Bernardino the third California city to get bankruptcy protection, could serve as a guide for other cities like Detroit that are in financial distress. Observers also say it's an important test for Chapter 9.
August 13, 2013

3 Cities That Used Disaster to Revitalize Their Future

Hit by tornadoes and earthquakes, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Greensburg, Kan.; and San Francisco all learned how to turn local tragedy into a new and vibrant vision.
August 9, 2013

Minnesota Gov. Wants to Repeal New Farm Tax

Gov. Mark Dayton said he supports repealing a new farm equipment tax during a brief special session next month that he previously insisted would be limited to storm relief.
August 1, 2013

3 Cities That Used Natural Disasters to Revitalize Their Futures

Hit by tornadoes and earthquakes, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Greensburg, Kan.; and San Francisco all learned how to turn local tragedy into a new and vibrant vision. Their lessons are a playbook for local officials dealing with disasters.
June 24, 2013

Natwar Gandhi, D.C's Chief Financial Officer, to Retire

The District's Chief Financial Officer, who's known as "Dr. No," will retire in July.
May 31, 2013

What Will New Bosses at the SEC and MSRB Mean for Muni Bonds?

New leaders at both the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board may have big changes in store for the municipal bond market and its issuers.
May 6, 2013

SEC Charges Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with Securities Fraud

Pennsylvania's capital, which is under receivership after nearly going bankrupt, is the second municipality or state to get charged with securities fraud this year.
May 1, 2013

State Finances: Short-Term Gains Won't Outweigh Long-Term Pain

Preliminary tax data from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government for 45 states shows revenues are up nearly 13 percent from last year.
April 30, 2013

Why Financial Literacy Matters to Governments

Low-income people need more than a steady paycheck to achieve financial stability. They also need help gaining access to traditional banking and credit services -- something 28 percent of Americans lack.
April 24, 2013

Ariz. May be 2nd State to OK Gold, Silver Currency

Ditching dollars for gold has become a popular notion among some conservative leaders and pundits (perhaps most notably Glenn Beck) in recent years.
April 22, 2013

Retiree Health-Care Benefits: The Next Shoe to Drop?

The rising cost of health care for retirees may force states and localities to make wholesale changes to their pension health plans.
April 19, 2013

Has Pension Reform Gone Too Far?

Faced with growing pension gaps, states and localities in recent years have reacted with sweeping reforms.
April 17, 2013

Moody's New Rules May Mean More Downgrades

Moody’s Investors Service announced its highly anticipated new ratings rules, which could result in downgrades for dozens of cities and school districts.
April 12, 2013

Fitch: Kentucky's Pension Reform Still Has Uncertainty

Kentucky’s pension reform signed into law this month marks a positive step but should not be heralded as a cure-all to the state’s massive underfunding problem, a major ratings agency said Friday.
April 10, 2013

Obama's Budget Targets Wealthy, Social Security to Lower Deficit

President Obama's fiscal plan for 2014 contains a mix of tax increases and breaks that some are concerned could mean increased costs for states and localities.
April 9, 2013

Moody’s: New York’s Pension-Deferment Plan Has Long-Term Risks

New York’s new law to allow some cities to defer pension payments would increase their unfunded pension liabilities and could hurt their credit outlook.
April 5, 2013

Job Skills Gap a Growing Concern in Cities

Cities coming out of the recession are facing new challenges with matching their workforce to available jobs, a problem that could be an early indicator of a growing national problem.
April 3, 2013

Why States Shouldn't Count on Another Big Income Tax Boost in 2013

RBC municipal analyst Chris Mauro warns that the boost at the end of 2012 was an anomaly driven by a rush to cash in on capital gains and other income in anticipation of new tax increases in 2013.
April 1, 2013

Stockton Bankruptcy Sets Stage for Pension Battle

Some say the ruling in Stockton, Calif.'s case could lead to a U.S. Supreme Court decision on how bankrupt cities deal with their pension liabilities.
March 29, 2013

Pension Reform Success Stories

Most states and many municipalities have passed some kind of pension reform in recent years, but only a few did so in a way that addresses the immediate unfunded liability of their plans. Plus: Has pension reform gone too far?
March 28, 2013

The Trouble with GASB

In the world of public finance, a long-running debate over what’s included in state and local financial statements is reaching new heights.
March 26, 2013

Scott Shuts Down Lt. Gov's Office to Save Money

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has temporarily shuttered the $510,000-a-year lieutenant governor's office in an effort to save money.
March 22, 2013

Illinois House Passes Pension Reform

House lawmakers in Illinois have passed the first step toward significant reform of the state's woefully underfunded pension system, but the controversial move would limit cost-of-living increases.
March 20, 2013

Muni Bonds' Tax Exemption Likely to Stay

Congressional lawmakers are skeptical of some specialty tax-free bonds but largely spoke in support of maintaining the tax-exempt status of the municipal bonds localities and states issue to fund infrastructure projects.
March 20, 2013

SEC Stepping Up Enforcement Against States, Cities

Last week, Illinois was only the second state to ever be accused of securities fraud -- but it may not be the last. The SEC's head of municipal securities wants to increase its enforcement.
March 19, 2013

Financing the Olympics: Are U.S. Cities Up for the Challenge?

In the wake of the recession -- and after witnessing London’s $14 billion price tag -- few cities are jumping at the chance to host the 2024 Olympic Games.
March 18, 2013

Financially Distressed Cities Isolate Poor and Minorities, Former Receiver Says

Segregated minority and poor populations foster municipal distress, according to the former receiver for the city of Harrisburg, Pa.
March 18, 2013

House Committee to Take up Municipal Bonds

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week will look at the impact of tax exemptions and deductions on states and localities.
March 15, 2013

S&P: Christie's Budget for New Jersey Relies on Uncertain Revenues

A major ratings agency cast doubt over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed 2014 budget this week, saying that the Republican’s forecasts were too ambitious and relied on “new and untested revenues” to balance the ledger.
March 13, 2013

Suburban Blight & the Affordable Housing Conundrum

As urban revival pushes more lower-income earners to the suburbs, many are struggling to provide services and redefine their identity.
March 11, 2013

SEC Charges Illinois with Securities Fraud

Illinois is only the second state to ever be accused of securities fraud. According to the SEC, the state misled investors about its underfunded pension system.
March 8, 2013

4 Myths About Public Pension Retirees

As pension reform debates continue, retiree advocates offer up a few common misconceptions about pensioners.
March 5, 2013

Pension Transparency Fight Brewing on Capitol Hill

Public pension managers are gearing up for another battle against what they say would be costly -- and unnecessary -- accounting disclosure requirements being floated on Capitol Hill even as new disclosure rules take effect this summer.
March 1, 2013

South Carolina Treasurer Fires Back After Censure

Despite official admonishment from the state investment commission, South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftis is continuing to speak out against what he sees as mismanagement of pension funds.
February 28, 2013

The 'B' Word: Is Municipal Bankruptcy's Stigma Fading?

There's a growing sense among some leaders that municipal bankruptcy -- unthinkable just a few years ago -- may be a valuable tool.
February 28, 2013

Muni Bond Tax Exemption Repeal Could Spike Borrowing Costs by 50%

Total borrowing costs for cities, counties and states could increase by more than 50 percent if the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds is repealed as part of the ongoing budget talks on Capitol Hill, a new report has found.
February 28, 2013

6 State and Local Questions About Sequestration

Now that President Barack Obama said that he plans to sign the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts into law, how will states and municipalities be impacted?
February 27, 2013

Even the Experts Disagree About Sequestration

Just days away from the deadline when across-the-board federal spending cuts kick in, two budget experts disagreed about what kind of impact the cuts would have on the national economy.
February 25, 2013

Governors: A Four-Year Degree Doesn't Always Mean Job Growth

With the recession in the rearview mirror some state leaders say their biggest job growth challenge now is providing and fostering a workforce that can fill the demand of the new economy.
February 22, 2013

How the Corn Belt Survived the 2012 Drought

Despite last year's drought, which was the worst since 1956, many farmers still ended the season on high notes.
February 20, 2013

Obama Urges Another Postponement of Sequestration Cuts

President Barack Obama is urging Congress to postpone the Mar. 1 sequestration through a combination of spending cuts and closing tax loopholes, rather than risk the automatic 10 percent budget cuts that are scheduled to go into effect next month if no action is taken.
February 14, 2013

Continuing Resolution Deadline Raises Concerns on Capitol Hill

While many eyes in the political world are watching Mar. 1, the deadline for sequestration’s automatic, across-the-board cuts of about 10 percent, another deadline later in the month may trigger more fireworks on Capitol Hill.
February 13, 2013

As Sequestration Looms, Cities Create Their Own Economic Fate

Whether sequestration happens or not, some local finance leaders are preparing for leaner times ahead when it comes to federal aid.
February 11, 2013

Landmark S&P Lawsuits Mark Improved State-Fed Relations

The lawsuits, which are the first against a credit ratings agency in connection with the economic meltdown, were a coordinated effort between states and feds who have historically clashed over who fights financial fraud.
February 8, 2013

Michigan Gov.'s Plan to Increase Savings Draws Mixed Reaction

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s $50.9 billion budget proposal this week included stocking away more savings while spending more on education, roads and heath care.
February 7, 2013

Top Tax Bracket Backlash: California's Higher Earners Weighing Move

Sometimes it’s not good to be the king. And in California, higher earners are feeling a little put upon.
February 6, 2013

Budget Deficit Falling But Looming Costs Hurt Overall Picture

The national economy will see some improvement in the coming years but the back half of the decade will be characterized by a looming debt burden and growing federal deficit under current economic policy, a new outlook report from the Congressional Budget Office says.
February 1, 2013

District of Columbia's Chief Financial Officer Retiring

Washington, D.C.’s longtime Chief Financial Officer announced his retirement Friday, just days after the city reported one of its largest budget surpluses in recent memory.
February 1, 2013

Kentucky's Outlook Downgraded

Kentucky’s finances received a blow late Thursday after Standard & Poor’s rating service downgraded the commonwealth’s outlook to negative from stable.
January 31, 2013

The Income Tax Rebellion: Can It Work?

The loudest collective rallying cry from governors this year is not over the usual themes of growing jobs and having a more competitive economy. This year, the buzz is all about the race to zero.
January 31, 2013

Post-Disaster New Zealand Finds Use for Vacant Spaces

A town destroyed by two earthquakes shows U.S. states and cities what they can do with areas decimated by natural disasters.
January 31, 2013

Iceland Writes the World's 1st Crowdsourced Constitution

Some U.S. cities have dabbled in crowdsourcing -- asking citizens to help solve problems via the Internet -- but replicating Iceland’s approach on such a large scale may be hard.
January 30, 2013

Fat Cat Public Retirees? Think Again.

Some say one of the biggest misconceptions about public retirees is that pensions are making people rich.
January 29, 2013

Experts: States Should Have More Active Role Aiding Distressed Municipalities

Some experts are saying that states should take a more active role in municipal finances even with an improved outlook for city finances in 2013.
January 29, 2013

Washington, D.C., Not Spending $417 Million Budget Surplus

The District of Columbia announced a $417 million surplus for its 2012 fiscal year, the highest surplus in recent memory and setting up an immediate fight between leaders on saving versus spending the money.
January 25, 2013

Bucking Trend, Traditional Pensions Back in Discussion in Alaska

A bill before the Alaska legislature would put defined benefits for state employees back in play after pension reform in the state cut out the option.
January 23, 2013

City Bankruptcies: The Wild West of Financial Law

Unlike corporate bankruptcies, there’s so little precedent for cities filing for bankruptcy protection that case law is being written with each major decision.
January 21, 2013

Muni Bond Market a Political Pawn in 2013

Experts say that 2013 will be a minefield of uncertainty for investors as the tax debate in Congress and financial volatility at home raise questions about muni market stability.
January 18, 2013

Metro-Area Economies: Don’t Uncross Those Fingers Just Yet

Economists predict a return to steady economic growth in the latter half of this decade but said inaction on Capitol Hill could reverse that.
January 17, 2013

Local Governments Strain Under Weaker State and Federal Aid

New York’s local governments are increasingly turning to local tax revenue to make up for sluggish growth in federal and state aid, a trend that experts say is occurring across the country.
January 17, 2013

What the Florida Pension Ruling Means for Other States

Florida's high court ruled that pension contracts can be adjusted, weighing in on an issue that many believe will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
January 14, 2013

Virginia Looks at 401ks for New Employees

Some Virginia leaders are pushing to enroll new state employees to a 401k-style retirement plan as that state’s pension costs have soared and the pension’s funding has decreased.
January 11, 2013

Washington, D.C., Tops List of Top 10 Cities for Tech Growth

Silicon Valley? That is so 1995. As it turns out, other metropolitan areas across the country are kicking some Bay Area rear when it comes to tech job growth since the millennium.
January 10, 2013

U.S. Chamber Chief Calls for Higher Gas Tax

The nation’s top business advocate said Thursday it was time for the federal government to “quit fooling around” with funding the transportation trust that fuels many state and local infrastructure projects and called for an increase in the gas tax.
January 9, 2013

If Muni Bonds Tax-Exempt Status is Lifted, $150B Are at Risk

Municipal bond issuers could be forced to call as much as a collective $150 billion in debt if a plan to limit tax deductions on that bond interest goes forward.
January 9, 2013

Will Recent Downgrades Hurt State Transportation Bonds?

Some analysts warn that states should start making contingency plans so they can continue dependably issuing transportation funding bonds.
January 5, 2013

Muni Rates Could Increase in 2013

Some market watchers are predicting a modest increase in municipal bond rates in 2013, a turnaround from 2012 which saw rates fall to hit record lows in November.
January 4, 2013

Tax Incentives Only Part of Picture for State Business Climates

States each year dole out billions in incentives and tax breaks for businesses, but those that spend the most aren't necessarily winning the end game, some experts say.
January 2, 2013

Georgia's Startup Investment from Pensions Falling Short of Expectations

Six months after Georgia enacted a law meant to attract more startups by allowing the state’s pension plans to invest in them, few plans have actually taken advantage, according to an Atlanta Journal Constitution report.
December 27, 2012

What to Know Before Funding Your Next Feasibility Study

As municipalities are trying to find ways to pay for vital infrastructure projects while their budgets remain tight, more are turning to Tax-Increment-Financing (TIF), experts say.
December 27, 2012

What Recession? Texas, Oklahoma Rebound Fastest

Metropolitan areas in Texas and Oklahoma are leading the nation in their overall recovery from the recession, according to a Brookings report.
December 26, 2012

Rust Belt States Drive Growth in 3rd Quarter

Rust Belt states posted some of the country’s biggest economic gains last quarter as industrial production reached a four-year high, according to an analysis by Bloomberg News.
December 21, 2012

State Government Coalition: Eliminating Tax-Free Muni Bonds Would Have "Chilling Effect" on Economy

A coalition representing state and local governments is urging the president and the Speaker of the House to keep the federal government income tax exclusion for municipal bond interest as leaders negotiate an alternative to the upcoming fiscal cliff cuts and tax hikes schedule to kick in next month.
December 19, 2012

Moodys Downgrades Seaside Heights, Issues 9 Other Credit Warnings

Moodys has downgraded the credit rating of one New Jersey town as a result of damages caused by Hurricane Sandy and made negative revisions to nine other public finance debt issuers, primarily along the New Jersey Shore and the South Shore of Long Island.
December 19, 2012

Will States and Localities Keep Opting for Higher Fees?

In the years during and after the Great Recession, governments have been turning more toward raising fees, according to a recent report.
December 18, 2012

Bond Insurer Wants Stockton’s Bankruptcy Case Dropped

Insurers holding $161 million of Stockton, Calif.’s debt and who want for the city’s case thrown out of court said this week the city didn’t pursue cost-cutting measures before filing for bankruptcy protection, according to a report by the Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review.
December 17, 2012

California, New York Eye Greater Fiscal Scrutiny Over Localities

California and New York are considering heavier oversight of their financially troubled cities, according to a Stateline report. Bill Lockyer, California’s state treasurer, wants to create a system that would monitor local finances and issue a warning to flag cities and counties when their fiscal situation becomes troubled. New York’s comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, wants to score cities based on their financial strain, according to Stateline.
December 13, 2012

California State Employees Are Highest-Paid

As a result of years of escalating wages and overtime costs, California state employees enjoy the highest average pay out of the nation's most populous states.
December 13, 2012

Report: Massachusetts Should Join Race for Online Gaming

After a record year for the Massachusetts Lottery, a state task force has called online gaming “inevitable” and is recommending the agency take steps toward offering it to consumers. The report, issued Thursday, notes that if the lottery doesn’t enter the online marketplace, other entrants – such as casinos, commercial gaming companies, and other states – will likely fill the void to the detriment of the lottery and the revenue it generates.
December 12, 2012

Eliminating Muni Bond Tax Breaks Getting Bipartisan Support

Eliminating at least some tax breaks on municipal bond is receiving bipartisan support in the fiscal cliff talks.
December 6, 2012

Report: Budget Transparency Website Could Save Florida Millions

Two government watchdog groups say Florida could save millions of dollars if a budget transparency website, which taxpayers have already spent $4.5 million on, were allowed to go live.
December 6, 2012

Disaster Officials Update Congressional Lawmakers on Sandy Recovery

As New York, New Jersey and other areas along the northeast coastline continue to repair and rebuild after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy five weeks ago, federal disaster officials defended the process by which localities receive financial aid while acknowledging room still exists for improvement.
December 6, 2012

Officials Warn Northeast Transit Corridor Needs Significant Upgrades

More than a month after Hurricane Sandy, the Northeast transit corridor is still in need of massive repairs and transit officials are urging federal authorities to provide enough funding to not just restore the system but to upgrade its safeguards and better prepare against future storms.
December 5, 2012

Is It Legal to Force Public Employees to Quit Smoking?

Supervisors have asked the county attorney to determine whether they can legally require employees to quit smoking or if they can institute a ban on hiring smokers.