Public Finance Update

How governments are tackling medical debt

Medical debt can stymie communities’ economic mobility as unpaid hospital bills chip away at public dollars. That’s why local governments are looking to forgive residents’ medical debt, which experts say can be especially helpful for rural areas.

Another large bank plans to exit the muni market

It’s the second big bank to drop its municipal bond business this year. But its decision, which many believe is the result of anti-ESG politics, could have a significant impact.

What a major income tax case before the Supreme Court means for states

During oral arguments this week, the court signaled it was wary of issuing an opinion that could upend the tax code.

Helping cities flip money pits into gold mines

An incubator is working with cities to capitalize on their under-used properties by helping them to think like real estate developers.

How California and Florida are trying to stave off the home insurance crisis

Historically, the two states have had very different approaches to insuring against natural disasters. That’s changing.

Is it time to stop worrying about pensions?

Public pension numbers are looking better than they have in over a decade. But some worry it may not last.

Do opportunity zones work?

The jury is still out. But recent research has provided new insights into the tax incentive meant to lure investment to distressed areas.

Should states and localities be worried about the U.S. downgrade?

Or about the possibility of another one amid the budget showdown in Congress? Fitch Ratings’ decision to knock the federal government’s credit rating down a notch last month doesn’t directly affect state and local credit quality. But it’s a warning shot.

As cyberattacks grow, cyber insurance is increasingly out of reach for many municipalities

Experts caution that governments need to recalibrate their cyber risk management approaches by emphasizing employee training and taking a whole-of-state approach.

An emerging ‘greenium’? New research says green bonds cost governments less

Amid an ESG backlash in some states, the finding could lead to more governments seeking an ESG-related label for bonds that will fund socially or environmentally sustainable projects.

After enacting strict abortion laws, many states are turning to tax breaks for expectant parents

Four states have approved new tax credits or deductions that allow taxpayers to claim unborn children. Nearly a dozen are expected to follow. But do these laws actually help expectant mothers?

State retirement plans close savings gap and pad bottom lines

Six years ago and millions of dollars since, Oregon launched the first state-sponsored retirement program for private sector workers. Today, 19 states have launched or plan to launch their own savings programs.

Boosting affordable housing by reclaiming investor-owned properties

As the affordable housing supply gets squeezed, some worry that private equity firms will scoop up more properties.

Five years after the Wayfair ruling, states' reliance on the sales tax grows

But while the sales tax has brought in billions of dollars for state and local governments, businesses find the patchwork of rules burdensome.

Minnesota Takes On Corporate Profit Shifting

The state targeted a loophole that companies use to create income tax havens abroad. As overall tax revenue continues to slump, will other states do the same?

Two Different Funding Approaches to Education Reform

One solution holds that the public school system itself is the problem to be fixed while the other says that targeting money to disadvantaged communities is the answer. Both approaches are expensive and it’s not clear that either work.

The U.S. Supreme Court Could Upend Local Property Tax Laws

The justices heard a case last week on a Minnesota county's profit on a seized condo. A ruling could change property seizure programs nationwide.

How an Auditor Shortage Could Hurt Local Governments

Fewer auditors have led to a lag in financial reporting and is threatening to translate into more costs for governments.

As States Plan for Next Year’s Budget, the Economy Flashes Mixed Signals

Even with rising inflation and worries about a looming recession, most state budgets are doing better than expected. But there are signs that the slowdown policymakers keep planning for is getting closer.

Is Participatory Budgeting Coming to a Local Government Near You?

Amid an influx of billions of federal dollars, some think the tool may see an uptick in use.