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    Monday
    Jan092017

    In Phoenix, Women Are Breaking Public Safety's Brass Ceiling

    The city has an unusually high number of women in leadership positions, even in male-dominated departments like police and fire. Why is that?
    BY  JANUARY 9, 2017

    Excluding education, women make up nearly half of the roughly 9 million workers in state and local government -- but they remain underrepresented in management and leadership roles. In general, the higher you look on a government's organizational chart, the more likely a position is to be filled by a man.

    Not so in Phoenix.

    In that city, nearly half of the 36 department heads and other executive positions are held by women, a share that far exceeds the national average. Women head notoriously male-dominated agencies like transportation, water infrastructure and even public safety. In fact, the city of 1.5 million is the largest municipality in the country to have both a female police and fire chief. Women also lead the city's homeland security and emergency management departments, as well as the prosecutor's office.

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    Friday
    Jan062017

    The Week in Public Finance: Repealing Obamacare, How a California Ruling Threatens Pensions and More

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  JANUARY 6, 2017

    How Much Will Dismantling Obamacare Cost?

    As leaders in Congress kick off the 115th session by assuring the public they will repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in full by the end of this year, a newly released estimate puts the cost of a total repeal at roughly $350 billion through 2027.

    According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, repealing the law's Medicare-related cuts and its tax increases -- such as the "Cadillac tax" on high-cost insurance plans -- could cost the government more than if it left the ACA in place.

    But the report found that lawmakers could save money if they just repeal parts of the law. For example, if Congress only does away with the ACA's coverage provisions (mainly the Medicaid expansion), it could save $1.55 trillion through 2027.

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    Wednesday
    Jan042017

    The Income Gap Between Black and White Men Is Getting Worse

    Contrary to popular belief, a new study shows there's been almost no progress over the last 70 years.
    BY  JANUARY 4, 2017

    A new study has found that the income gap between black and white men has worsened in recent decades, a finding contrary to the popular belief that it has been steadily narrowing.

    In fact, by some measures, the research showed there has been no change in the income gap between African-American and white males over the last 70 years.

    The study is authored by University of Chicago economist Kerwin Kofi Charles and Duke University economist Patrick Bayer, and is the first to look at income inequality while incorporating data from men who aren’t working. The method, said Charles, is a more accurate picture of labor market dynamics because it addresses access -- or lack thereof -- to jobs. While some men might not be working by choice, many simply can’t find a job or are kept out of the workforce by jail or their criminal record.

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    Thursday
    Dec292016

    5 Hot Topics Hitting Public Finance in 2017

    BY  DECEMBER 29, 2016

    In what could be a tumultuous year for state and local finances, these five issues are likely to take center stage.

    Tax Reform

    Many Capitol Hill watchers expect federal tax reform to roll forward in some fashion in 2017 now that a Republican will be in the White House. There are two major proposals on the table that could directly result in higher costs for states.

    For starters, many in Congress have been supportive of limiting the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds. Removing this tax perk for bond investors would force governments to offer higher interest rates on the debt, thus increasing their cost of paying off that debt.

    It’s hard to overstate the potential impact of such a move. One estimate pegged the current tax perk savings for state and local governments at about $714 billion from 2000 to 2014. For its part, the federal government estimates it loses as much as $30 billion in potential income tax revenue each year as a result of the perk.

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    Tuesday
    Dec272016

    A Budgeting Break for Small (and Big) Governments

    With less people and money, small towns are prone to making big and expensive errors. One company wants to change that.
    BY  DECEMBER 27, 2016

    Small towns and districts know all too well about limited resources. Their departments are made up of just a few employees; they have almost no support staff; and they can't afford fancy software that might help speed things along.

    For finance directors, this makes budgeting a difficult and time-consuming task. In most less-populated places, the process is stuck in the 20th century: Budgets are created on Microsoft Excel, and directors are expected to consolidate versions between different departments.

    At best, it’s arduous work. At worst, it leaves a lot of opportunities for errors.

    Click to read more ...