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    Entries in Texas (3)

    Friday
    Jun022017

    The Week in Public Finance: Pension Reform in Texas, Fitch Lowers Expectations and Illinois Downgraded Again

    BY  JUNE 2, 2017 

    Even the Pension Deals are Big in Texas

    There has been a big break in Houston's and Dallas' pension crises over the past week: The Texas Legislature approved reforms that require all sides to pony up big.

    In Houston, the changes will cut the city’s $8 billion unfunded liability in half. Municipal and public safety unions agreed to $2.8 billion in benefits cuts. Meanwhile, Houston will issue $1 billion in pension bonds to boost the system’s balance. It will also stick to a payment plan -- that includes capping the city's future pension costs -- to pay off the remaining unfunded liability over 30 years.

    Similarly, Dallas’ police and fire workers will shoulder $1.4 billion in benefit cuts over the next 30 years and more than $1 billion in additional contributions from their pay. For its part, the city will be required to significantly boost its annual payments into the fund, starting with more than $150 million next year. Mayor Mike Rawlings will also get to pick six of the 11 trustees on the currently union-dominated pension board, whose poor investments contributed to more than $1 billion in losses.

    The Takeaway: The common theme to these reforms is shared sacrifice. While unions and officials are happy to have a plan in place, no one is pleased about what comes next. "This is not a time to high-five," Dallas Police Association Vice President Frederick Frazier told the Dallas Morning News. "This is a time to pull the boots up and get back to work."

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    Wednesday
    Oct052016

    The Week in Public Finance: Unsustainable Health-Care Costs, an Oil State Not in Crisis and More

    BY  SEPTEMBER 9, 2016

    Retiree Health-Care Liabilities Are Dramatically Increasing

    State governments’ cost of keeping all their promises to retirees is “unsustainable.” That’s the conclusion of a report this week by S&P Global Ratings that looked at the growth in total retiree health-care liabilities across state governments.

    In just two years, so-called "other post-employment benefit" (OPEB) liabilities have increased 12 percent, to $554 billion for states alone. This reverses a trend of stable to declining liabilities found in S&P’s past two annual surveys.

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    Thursday
    Feb042016

    How Oil States Are Dealing With Sinking Prices and Revenue

    The states most dependent on oil tax revenues have different ways of dealing with the industry slowdown.
    BY  FEBRUARY 4, 2016

    Oil prices are now at their lowest level in 12 years -- below $30 a barrel. That's great news for consumers, but not for the states that depend on oil tax revenues.

    The falling price of oil, which has declined more than 60 percent since June 2014, has some states scrambling. With no end in sight, states that are more dependent on the industry simply can't replace the revenue by withdrawing from their substantial rainy day funds.

    Oil, natural gas and mining account for about 10 percent or more of gross domestic product in eight states: Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming. Last year, total tax revenues in the eight states declined by 3.2 percent, according to a new analysis by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. In contrast, the remaining 42 states reported a 6.5 percent increase in total tax revenues.

    Although most of these states tend to budget conservatively, the good years for oil had an impact on their finances.

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