Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.
Girard Miller

Girard Miller

Finance Columnist

Girard Miller is the finance columnist for Governing. He is a retired investment and public finance professional and the author of Enlightened Public Finance (2019).  Miller brings 30 years of experience in public finance and investments as a former GASB board member and ICMA Retirement Corp. president.

He can be reached at millergirard@yahoo.com. 

To accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, every burg along our “blue highways” is going to need a place for motorists to plug in. For states, that means tax credits, matching grants or similar incentives. But we’re not talking big money.
The COVID recession and its fiscal aftermath should remind politicians, advocates and labor that budget reserves are not piggybanks for new discretionary spending. Economic cycles have not been repealed.
Pending municipal finance provisions in the big spending bills before Congress could benefit issuers, investors and taxpayers. To get the best deal, state and local leaders must press their case immediately.
Going into next year, the Fed is likely to throttle back policies that have kept rates near zero. That presents opportunities — and risks. Nobody wants to repeat the local government fiscal disasters of not so long ago.
With billions in grants about to start flowing from Washington, they will need comprehensive, timely information on what’s available. They shouldn’t have to wait for the feds to supply it.
Despite predictions that COVID-19 would crush state tax revenues, most of them didn’t need megabillions in pandemic aid to balance their budgets. But for the most part they seem to be spending the money wisely.
Local governments lack the tax base for meaningful income redistribution programs, and they risk losing residents to lower-tax jurisdictions. The economics suggest that it’s a job for higher levels of government.
Labor market shortages and private-sector competition compel states and localities to get creative. Removing a major impediment to filling vacant jobs seems worth a look.
Local governments could turn to special assessment districts to cost-effectively assure safety improvements, bypassing occupants’ foot-dragging and dysfunctional homeowners’ associations.
Congress should rewrite the ground rules to minimize nuisance lawsuits that can cost local taxpayers millions, while focusing civil courts on bad cops and blind-eye departments.