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The magnitude and immediacy of threats to the sustainability of state government programs call for significant changes in how we think about and make policies that…
The magnitude and immediacy of threats to the sustainability of state government programs call for significant changes in how we think about and make policies that influence the public budget. The Great Recession's prolonged battering of state budgets exhausted cutback strategies and has left policy makers with few options, producing a decision gridlock that is inescapable using traditional functional and line-item budget perspectives and embedded practices. Transforming state budgets requires an uncommon view. This paper identifies and describes seven overarching and pervasive habits in state policy making that contribute to unsustainable budgets. Although the applicability and commonness of each habit will vary by state, both individually and as a set the seven habits impart important handles for gaining greater control over a state's fiscal directions and fortunes.
In this introductory essay, the authors describe a new public finance characterized by enduring revenue constraints; mounting budgetary claims from accruing liabilities for post-retirement benefits for government employees, rising health care costs, and an aging population; and uncertainty about future budgetary demands and resource limitations. The new public finance is described as a convergence of economic and demographic forces with past practices that increased the fiscal vulnerability of states and local governments. The authors explain that states and local governments will not overcome challenges by relying upon traditional ways of thinking about and conducting business but instead must revamp frameworks for practice. Symposium papers are described as tackling several of the most pressing issues facing governments today with an eye towards rethinking customary approaches.
This paper analyzes the impact of economic downturns on the revenue and expense sides of city financing for the period 2003 to 2009 using a convenience sample of the…
This paper analyzes the impact of economic downturns on the revenue and expense sides of city financing for the period 2003 to 2009 using a convenience sample of the audited end of year financial reports for thirty midsized US cities. The analysis focuses on whether and how quickly and how extensively revenue and spending directions from past years are altered by recessions. A seven year series of Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) data serves to explore whether citiesʼ revenues and spending, especially the traditional property tax and core functions such as public safety and infrastructure withstood the brief 2001 and the persistent 2007 recessions? The findings point to consumption (spending) over stability (revenue minus expense) for the recession of 2007, particularly in 2008 and 2009.