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The Future of Finance

Local governments could turn to special assessment districts to cost-effectively assure safety improvements, bypassing occupants’ foot-dragging and dysfunctional homeowners’ associations.
The city wants to offer $100 million in pension obligation bonds, a move that both lowers pension debt and increases the funds’ earning power by providing more money to invest. But the sale is considered risky.
Due to high state tax collections and large amounts of federal aid, many state legislatures are experiencing massive budget surpluses. But some lawmakers want to start planning for the inevitable downturn now.
Organizations across the state spent $25.9 million on lobbying efforts, a slight increase from two years ago. The top lobbying group was pharmaceutical companies; PhRMA alone spent nearly $1.3 million.
A new report details the ideas, from gondolas to light rails to new affordable housing communities, that the New York City borough has proposed as ways to help stimulate the post-pandemic economy.
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.
The county is beginning to develop plans for a new $500 million jail, but it remains unclear how officials will pay for the project. The building will be the most expensive and consequential in county history.
Congress continues to debate how to replace revenue from the long-term decline in the gas tax. Meanwhile, some states have upped the registration fees for EVs and a few experiment with a vehicle-miles-traveled tax.
The program, which will toll vehicles entering Manhattan’s central business district, has been in limbo since the Trump administration refused to OK the review process. It is expected to raise $1 billion in revenue annually.
As discussions around cryptocurrencies increase, fintech innovators are looking to receive direction on how to launch new products more easily while lawmakers focus on risks and volatility.
State lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom still have not agreed on a budget deal. A lot of time was used to determine how to allocate the state’s unexpected windfall. Placeholder legislation has kept the government running.
The federal government sent a lot of money to states to help with an anticipated COVID-related economic downturn. Turns out, states did not need that much money – but they may spend it anyway.
Many of the state’s towns and cities have yet to receive their American Rescue Plan Act funds and are still considering how the money would best be spent. The funds must be spent before 2026.
State laws and local practices vary widely, so the impact on budgets will defy generalizations. But it’s unlikely that rising revenues will uniformly cover impending growth in municipal costs.
Total aid ranges from about 5 percent to more than 20 percent of annual spending.
Fontana City Manager Ken Hunt was the highest paid city manager in California in 2020. He earned $932,623 by resigning to retire. The high pay has raised eyebrows among taxpayer advocates.
New Jersey’s $46.4 billion budget will allocate some funds towards public pensions, tax deductions for college aid and small property tax relief payments. Republican lawmakers worry the increased spending will result in future cutbacks.
Officials remain in the planning phase on how to spend the rest of the county’s American Rescue Plan funds. Residents have advocated investing in education, broadband, minority investment and infrastructure.
Based on the city’s low cost of living, an increase in minimum wage would benefit residents more than in other major cities. Currently, the baseline living wage in the city is 16.6 percent below the proposed $15-an-hour wage.
Without federal help, cities in the Northeast and Midwest face heavy cost burdens to upgrade aging roads, bridges and water systems. Younger municipalities in the South and West are beginning to have similar problems.
A bipartisan group of senators proposed the gas tax should be indexed to inflation to help pay for new infrastructure spending, an approach Biden calls ‘regressive.’
The bill would make funding changes to the Hawaii Tourism Authority and would eliminate the hotel tax distribution from individual counties. Gov. Ige is concerned the bill would detract from the state’s tourism and community focus.
State and local leaders should prod Washington for the funding that can close the digital divide, protect utilities from cyber criminals, build smart cities and shape incentives for high-tech manufacturing.
With one of the region’s largest cryptocurrency mining facilities, a Bitcoin ATM operator and a bill that would allow special trusts to hold digital assets, the state could be a center of the growing fintech industry.
Lawmakers are studying whether they can spend part of the $2 billion the state received from the American Rescue Plan Act on prison construction. The state will have until the end of 2024 to use the funds.
While some argue that the state should save most of the historic budget surplus for the inevitable next recession, others want to spend it ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.
Residents will vote on the “Fair Share” amendment next year and if approved the state will impose a 4 percent surtax on household incomes exceeding $1 million. The tax increase would produce an additional $2 billion in revenue annually.
There are less than three weeks until the state’s constitutional deadline to establish a budget. With federal aid and large tax revenues, the state plans to spend approximately $3 billion more during the 2021-2023 cycle.
The warring camps in Washington are unlikely to find a middle ground on their own. Governors and mayors need to take a seat at the adult tax-policy table.
21 Alabama cities have been classified as a “metropolitan” under the American Rescue Plan Act, which allocates significantly less federal relief aid than initially anticipated, sometimes reducing by more than half.