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    Entries in budgets (36)

    Tuesday
    Apr252017

    Amid Shutdown Talk, States and Cities Seek Clues to the Future

    Whether and how Congress passes a budget this week could indicate what's to come when negotiations start for the next year, which will be the first full budget under President Trump.
    BY  APRIL 25, 2017

     

    As lawmakers in Washington work to avoid a shutdown of the federal government this week, the tenor of the negotiations could provide a window for states and localities into what to expect from future budget debates on Capitol Hill.

    “The big picture is how well the Republican conference gets along in terms of this run-of-the-mill budget stuff,” says Dan White, a director at Moody’s Analytics. “If they take it down to the wire, that portends some very uncertain fiscal times over the next couple months.”

    The federal government has been running on a continuing resolution that funds agencies at 2016 levels. Congress has until midnight on April 28 -- this Friday night -- to agree on a spending plan for the remainder of the federal fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, or approve another short-term resolution.

    In the aftermath of the Republican party’s failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), observers are eyeing the amount of drama it takes for Congressional leaders to agree on the budget. A political squabble now over closing out fiscal year 2017 wouldn't bode well for hopes of getting through a new fiscal 2018 budget, which must be approved by Oct. 1.

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    Friday
    Apr212017

    The Week in Public Finance: Ballmer's Data Trove, Grading Pension Health and a New Muni Bond Threat

    BY  APRIL 21, 2017

    This Goes Way Beyond Open Data

    You might not peg former Microsoft CEO and current owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers as a government data geek. But Steven Ballmer stepped into that role in a grand scale this week when he unveiled his privately funded, years-long project to help citizens easily track how government spends their money.

    Called USAFacts, the website contains federal, state and local aggregated data on revenue and spending, as well as on debt, population, employment and pensions. Want to know about pension debt? Two quick searches reveal that unfunded liabilities in state and local retirement systems have more than quadrupled since 2000. At the same time, the median age in the country has increased by 2.5 years.

    As a businessman used to the corporate world, Ballmer wants to make government financial reports more readable. To that end, the site has introduced the first government "10-K report" -- the private sector's version of an annual financial report. It aggregates data from all U.S. governments and gives progress reports on government programs, provides financial balance sheets and gives data on key economic indicators.

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    Friday
    Apr072017

    The Week in Public Finance: States Warned of 'Profound Shift' in Finances, Hurting in Illinois and More

    BY  APRIL 7, 2017

    State Finances to Experience a 'Profound Shift'

    Some states might soon be facing a come to Jesus moment. That was the sobering message this week from a senior analyst at S&P Global Ratings, who warned that a “profound shift” is occurring in state finances pressured by pension debt, slow revenue growth and demographic changes.

    Gabe Petek noted Illinois, Kentucky and New Jersey are particularly vulnerable as they have persistently struggled to balance budgets during one of the longest economic expansion periods in modern U.S. history. But they’re not the only ones who should be put on notice. "This long period of relative calm may have lulled some people into complacency when it comes to state finances," he wrote in an editorial for The Hill. "It shouldn’t have."

    In addition to slower revenue growth, declining worker-to-beneficiary ratios in state retirement systems and rising Medicaid enrollments "have meant that fiscal stress is no longer confined to recessionary times," he wrote.

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    Friday
    Mar172017

    The Week in Public Finance: Trump's Budget, the CBO on Health Care and Accounting for Higher Ed

    BY  MARCH 17, 2017

    Trump’s Budget Cuts

    This week, President Trump proposed his budget and, as expected, it focused federal spending cuts on a narrow area that impacts state and local governments the most: discretionary spending. The cuts come by way of diverting more than $54 billion from various federal agencies to defense spending.

    The Takeaway: Paying for all these cuts would mean many programs beneficial to states and localities would be targeted. Under the plan, grant funding -- which accounts for 31 percent of state budgets and 22 percent of state and local spending combined -- takes an enormous hit. Specifically, Trump would eliminate the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which was started by President Nixon as a way to provide direct federal assistance to city projects.

    In transit, the president calls for a half-billion cut from the wildly popular TIGER grant program. He would also cut $175 million in subsidies for commercial flights to rural airports, eliminate funding for many new transit projects and discontinue support for long-distance Amtrak trains.

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    Friday
    Mar032017

    The Week in Public Finance: Oil State Woes, Why 401(k)s Might Not Be For All and More

    BY  MARCH 3, 2017

    Oil State Woes

    Oklahoma's credit rating was downgraded this week, making it the third oil state in just one month to suffer such a blow. S&P Global Ratings pushed Oklahoma's rating down to AA, citing the state's chronically weak revenue. The downgrade comes as news broke this week that the state is facing a nearly $900 million shortfall.

    "Collectively the state's financial position has deteriorated to a point that further precludes the state from building up reserves in subsequent fiscal years,” says S&P credit analyst Oscar Padilla, who adds the state is now more vulnerable to regional or national economic weakness.

    This is Oklahoma's third consecutive year with a deficit, and the second straight year of a so-called revenue failure, when collections fall more than 5 percent below estimates.

    The action follows downgrades in two other oil states last month: Moody’s Investors Service downgraded West Virginia and Louisiana one notch each. States that rely on oil and energy for significant portions of their economy have had to grapple with revenue shortfalls since the price of oil dropped drastically a year and a half ago.

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