Public Finance Update

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.

Colorado Expands Unemployment Insurance—And Others Are Watching Closely

Colorado’s low-cost approach to getting benefits out the door quickly could provide a model for adapting or modernizing public assistance programs elsewhere.

How One County Fixed Its Broken Property Tax System

Property taxes are considered the ultimate “fair” tax. But that fairness hinges on the assumption that homes are being assessed accurately, regularly and thoroughly.

When States Take Over Financially Troubled Local Governments

A recent bankruptcy filing by Chester, Pennsylvania, highlights the limits and difficulties with state programs in dealing with fiscal stress at the municipal level.

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?