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    Entries in Atlantic City (6)

    Friday
    Nov112016

    The Week in Public Finance: What a Trump Presidency Could Mean for State and Local Finances and More

    BY  NOVEMBER 11, 2016

    What a Trump Presidency Could Mean for State and Local Finances

    An early review of Donald Trump's health-care and trade policies reveals some potentially bad news for state and local governments. According to Fitch Ratings, Trump's proposals would "significantly lower federal transfers to state budgets and could negatively affect economic growth and revenues."

    Specifically, Trump has proposed converting Medicaid funding into a block grant program, which Fitch says would lead to much lower federal funding for the states. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessment of earlier Medicaid block grant proposals projected declines of between 4 and 23 percent in federal funding over 10 years.

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    Thursday
    Aug112016

    The Benefits of Helping Struggling Cities

    For financially distressed municipalities, it’s good to be in a state that intervenes, according to a new study.
    BY  AUGUST 11, 2016

    Earlier this month, New Jersey stopped Atlantic City from defaulting on its debt with a $74 million bridge loan. While there was plenty of bluster and several hollow threats from legislators that they would not step in to help the financially beleaguered gambling town, it didn’t surprise anyone when they finally did.

    That’s because New Jersey has a reputation in the credit market for going to any lengths to prevent one of its municipalities from entering Chapter 9 bankruptcy. In fact, no New Jersey municipality has defaulted on debt since the Great Depression. This extra layer of protection is not only comforting to local officials in struggling cities like Camden or Trenton, it’s viewed as a big plus by those who invest in New Jersey municipal debt.

    Now, preliminary research affirms the benefits of being a municipality in a more proactive state. Scholars at the University of Notre Dame and University of Illinois at Chicago have found that creditors tend to give municipalities in these states a slightly lower borrowing rate than they do municipalities in states without any kind of bankruptcy intervention program.

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    Friday
    Aug052016

    The Week in Public Finance: The Netflix Tax, Another Atlantic City Rescue and More

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  AUGUST 5, 2016

    Taxing Netflix

    Pennsylvania this week became one of a few states that taxes online streaming video services like Netflix and and Hulu, a development that has consumers complaining but other governments watching closely.

    The expansion of the state’s 6 percent sales tax was part of a revenue package passed earlier this year to fill a $1.3 billion hole in the state’s new $31.5 billion budget. Pennsylvania also extended the sales tax to digital downloads like music and ebooks. Sixteen other states already do that, but it has proven difficult to tax streaming services.

    Last year, Alabama lawmakers tabled a study that would have expanded its 4 percent digital downloads tax to streaming services. Vermont looked at the issue but then the technology was more akin to a service than a tangible good. Massachusetts passed a wide-ranging technology tax in 2013 that was quickly repealed after the tech industry complained of the difficulties of complying to it. (For the record, Florida does apply a small communications tax to streaming services.)

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    Friday
    Apr082016

    The Week in Public Finance: Rating Downgrades, the War on Cities and More

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  APRIL 8, 2016

    Downgrade Week

    Louisiana and Atlantic City, N.J., were slapped with credit rating downgrades this week as both continue to struggle with revenue shortfalls and other budget problems.

    In the Bayou State, lawmakers are still stuck with a $750 million budget gap for the 2017 fiscal year, which starts on July 1, even after approving some tax hikes this year. Fitch Ratings said the current budget deficit has been caused in part by “overly optimistic revenue expectations” and by not budgeting enough for Medicaid. The agency downgraded Louisiana’s rating from a AA to a AA-, noting the budget problem has only worsened thanks to a prolonged plunge in oil prices.

    The rating downgrade affects nearly $4 billion in outstanding debt. It will also play a role in the interest rate the state gets later this month on about a half-billion in bonds it plans to refinance. The rating comes after Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Louisiana earlier this year, citing the state’s budget issues.

    Gov. John Bel Edwards, who pushed for and won some tax hikes this year, largely laid blame with his predecessor Bobby Jindal and the state legislature. Edwards plans to call a special session to address the shortfall, the second in a year.

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    Friday
    Mar182016

    The Week in Public Finance: Good and Bad News for Pensions and for Atlantic City

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  MARCH 18, 2016

    Pension Plan Peril

    The stock market has been kind to pension plans in recent years. But that ended last year: Pension plan returns for fiscal 2015, which mostly closed on June 30, were meager. Many were below 5 percent, lower than their target rate of 7 or 8 percent. To make matters worse, that was before the stock market turmoil that began late last summer, which means that when most pensions close out fiscal 2016 at the end of June, their returns will again fall short.

    The two-year hit will effectively wipe out the funding improvements seen in 2013 and 2014, predicts Moody’s Investors Service. In a report released Thursday, the agency analyzed 56 state and local government pension plans with total assets of more than $2 trillion. The report says that under the most optimistic scenario, where investment returns average 5 percent for the year, plans’ overall liabilities will still increase by 10 percent. This is because returns are falling short.

    The most pessimistic scenario? That plans report an investment loss of 10 percent. In those cases, Moody’s says that could bump up liabilities by more than half, forcing governments to have to put in more money over the next few years than was previously forecast. With a number of governments already balking at their pension costs, that’s going to be a problem. A little over half of the plans Moody’s sampled already aren’t receiving their full payments from their contributing governments.

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