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    Entries in Week in Public Finance (8)

    Friday
    May122017

    The Week in Public Finance: Revenue Relief in 2018, Good GDP News and the Debt-Shy

    BY  MAY 12, 2017

    A Revenue Pick-Me-Up?

    For the past two fiscal years, tax revenue has lagged. A new analysis, though, predicts states may soon see some relief.

    A report this week by S&P Global Ratings says the climate may be right for “a revenue rebound” in fiscal 2018. A big reason, writes analyst Gabe Petek, is that investors may have held out in 2016 on cashing out stocks because they hoped a Trump presidency would give them a more favorable tax climate for their capital gains. With tax reform now looking like it’ll take longer, investors are more likely to cash out sooner. Petek says job growth and recent interest rate hikes will also benefit state income and sales tax growth in fiscal 2018.

    That's good news given that a new analysis by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government found that state tax revenue last year grew just 1.2 percent and actually declined by one-tenth of a percent after adjusting for inflation. It’s the weakest performance since 2010 and a major drop from 4.7 percent growth in fiscal 2015.

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    Friday
    Apr282017

    The Week in Public Finance: Trump's Tax Plan, the Tampon Tax and Calling Out the SEC

    BY  APRIL 28, 2017

    Trump Sort of Unveils His Tax Plan

    President Trump unveiled his tax reform plan this week, and the massive cuts it proposes have left many wondering how the government would pay for the plan.

    Much of the single-page, bullet-pointed statement, which The New York Times called “less a plan than a wish list,” contained promises Trump made on the campaign trail: a much lower corporate tax rate, the elimination of the U.S. tax on foreign profits, a reduction in the number of individual income tax brackets from seven to three, a lower tax rate, and the scrapping of most itemized deductions, including one that lets taxpayers deduct their state and local taxes from their declared federal income.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that economic growth, combined with eliminating deductions, would pay for the cuts. Meanwhile, a Tax Foundation analysis of some of these key ideas shows that the plan would ultimately result in more tax revenue for state governments.

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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
    Feb242017

    The Week in Public Finance: Pensions Protest Bathroom Bills, a Billion-Dollar Showdown in Kansas and More

    BY  FEBRUARY 24, 2017

    Pension Funds Mess With Texas

    The country’s largest public pension systems and investors are pressuring Texas officials not to approve a so-called bathroom bill introduced in January. The legislation targets transgender individuals by requiring them to use the public restroom that aligns with the gender on their birth certificate.

    Pointing to North Carolina, which lost hundreds of millions in business from canceled sporting events, concerts and conventions after its bathroom bill became law last year, the group warned in a letter that Texas could meet the same fate. Already, the National Football League and the NCAA have said that the siting of future events in Texas would be jeopardized if lawmakers move forward.

    The more than 30 signatories on the letter include comptrollers, controllers and treasurers of California, Connecticut, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as major firms such as BlackRock and T. Rowe Price. Collectively, the group represents more than $11 trillion in assets.

    The Takeaway: Threats like these aren't new. Called social divesting, stewards of major pensions have increasingly urged corporate boards in recent years to make policy changes, such as pressuring energy companies to move away from fossil fuels.

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    Friday
    Feb172017

    The Week in Public Finance: Diverging County Economies, Treasurers Talk Trump and Sanctuary City Threats

    BY  FEBRUARY 17, 2017

    County Recoveries Coincide With Political Shifts

    The nation's economic recovery accelerated in 2016, with more than 1 in 4 counties reporting a full recovery to pre-recession levels on four key economic indicators. That portion is a huge jump from last year when 1 in 10 reported fully recovering counties, according to the National Association of Counties (NACo).

    The four indicators are: job totals, unemployment rates, economic output (GDP) and median home prices. Two-thirds of the nation’s more than 3,000 counties have recovered on at least three of the economic indicators.

    Most of the counties that have fully recovered are in Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. In addition, the mid-Atlantic, the Northeast and the West Coast have many nearly-to-fully recovered counties. Large counties (more than 500,000 residents) had the highest rate of full recovery at 41 percent. In contrast, more than three-quarters of small counties (fewer than 50,000 residents) still had not reached their pre-recession peaks in any of the indicators by the close of 2016.

    The Takeaway: Both the acceleration of the economic recovery and the fact that it’s mostly happening in very populated areas is widening the gap between the municipal haves and have nots. It also partly explains shifting political allegiances in some mid-sized counties in 2016.

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