Public Finance Update

How a Bankrupt City’s Pension System Hit a Breaking Point

The case of Chester, Pennsylvania involves hidden debt, missing documentation and lots of blame. Route Fifty takes a closer look in this second installment of a three-part series.

A Small City's Descent Into Bankruptcy

"By far the worst that we have encountered," is how one person involved in resolving the fiscal mess described it. This first article in a three-part series, looks at how the troubled city's situation resembles another municipal bankruptcy about a decade ago.

Real-Time Data on What Muni Bond Investors Think of Your City

A new data tool offers a window into how investors are responding to changes affecting the financial outlook of individual governments, including trends like the rise of remote work.

Child Care is Broken. Here’s How Governments are Trying to Fix it

From helping fund day care centers, to providing subsidies to care workers and families, states and localities are spending millions on what has become a crisis for the nation and its workforce.

Borrowing to Backfill Public Pensions Makes a Comeback

Low interest rates made the potentially risky and often criticized practice more attractive. But then the stock market plummeted, complicating the outlook for some places that took on the debt.

2 Practical Approaches to More Equitable Government Spending

It's been over two years since policy-makers began to redouble equity efforts with state and local budgets and programs. Here's a look at where things stand with some of that work.

What the Housing Market Slowdown Will Mean for Property Taxes

Red hot home sales during the pandemic have cooled and that could have consequences for one of the main revenues local governments rely on. But the outlook varies place to place.

How Cryptocurrency Could Help to 'Crowdfund' Public Projects

The idea of leaning on the emerging technology to issue municipal bonds in small denominations has the potential to benefit governments and investors alike. But can the muni market adapt?

The Fighting Over Online Sales Taxes Isn’t Finished

Deals worked out between local governments and companies before the Supreme Court cleared the way for taxing e-commerce are drawing increased scrutiny. If the agreements fall apart, it could blow a hole in some city budgets.

Deciding How to Spend Billions in Opioid Settlement Payments

As states and localities begin receiving the money, advocates are pushing for it to go toward public health programs, and to avoid some practices that emerged around the 1990s tobacco settlement.

The Billion Dollar Jobs Push Using ARPA Funds

State and local governments are planning to devote nearly $600 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to workforce initiatives, in addition to other federal grants. Here's a closer look at the spending.

State and Local Pensions Post Worst Losses Since Great Recession

The public sector retirement plans are in better overall shape than they were back in 2008. But some are still badly underfunded and many are gambling on riskier investments.

Unfair Property Taxes and What to Do About Them

In some places, the taxes fall unequally on lower-income and minority homeowners. But can they be redesigned without jeopardizing a major source of local government revenue?

This Federal Committee Is Watching Over Your Pandemic Funds Spending

The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee is on the lookout for fraud and other issues with trillions in federal Covid aid. But the watchdog is also assembling a wealth of data on programs the money is going to.

For Taxpayer-funded Stadiums, the Renovation Boom Has Arrived

The bill is coming due for upgrades to pro sports venues built decades ago. It won’t be cheap.

The Big Debate Around Statehouses: What to Do With Budget Surpluses

States had another year of exceptional revenue growth driven by a number of factors, but the conversation around how to reward taxpayers is complicated.

'Woke Bond Rating’? The Muni Finance Fight Over ESG Scores

Utah officials recently lashed out at a rating agency's use of environmental, social, governance rankings. Investors have an appetite for the metrics, but critics say they're too subjective.

The New Digital Products and Services Proving Difficult to Tax

States and localities may have to update policies if they don't want to miss out on revenue.