Surviving the Budget Crisis

The Philadelphia Idiot’s Guide to Property Taxes and the City Schools II (June 15, 2012)

Passions are still running high and the final outcome could change. But the intense debate that has dominated the 2012 budget process over whether or not to implement a new property assessment system, and to give $94 million to the city’s public schools, appears to be drawing to a close. This HOW PHILLY WORKS looks ahead to what Council’s apparent decision could mean for the future of the public schools and the city’s real estate market.

The Philadelphia Idiot’s Guide to Property Taxes and the City Schools (June 5, 2012)

The hot button issue of in this year's annual budget debate takes center stage shortly so Seventy is using HOW PHILLY WORKS to explain how Philadelphia's elected officials are preparing for this afternoon's mega-hearing.

An Answer to IncreaseD City Revenue? (May 6, 2012)

Cities everywhere are asking tax-exempt non-profits to make voluntary payments to bring in more revenue through programs known as PILOTs (payments-in-lieu-of-taxes). This HOW PHILLY WORKS takes a close look at the pros and cons of expanding Philadelphia's small PILOT program.

City Council and the Labor Contracts (March 22, 2012)

The silence is over in negotiations between the city of Philadelphia and two municipal unions that have operated without contracts since 2009. City Council put pressure on Mayor Nutter today to stop demanding concessions from workers and settle the contracts, fast. Read Seventy’s HOW PHILLY WORKS for the story behind this unfolding saga.

Fiscal Priorities: 2011


The Budget address We Need To Hear: Ten issues Philadelphia Must Face (February 28, 2011)

Though budget discussions often seem to be about narrow spending and taxing decisions – especially in an election year - they can be about a larger issue: What should government be doing to build a better future. In anticipation of Mayor Nutter’s 2011 budget address to the city, the Committee of Seventy released “The Budget Address We Need to Hear.” It’s our vision of ideas - and a new attitude – to move Philadelphia forward.

INSIDE THE BUDGET BATTLE: 2010


BEHIND THE BUDGET DOOR (MAY 25, 2010)

With just weeks left to work out its version of the city budget, City Council is getting serious about whether Philadelphians will have to pay more in taxes. On May 13 at noon, Council will hold a hearing on a plan to hike property taxes by as much as 9 percent. It is also considering imposing a new tax on some tobacco products.

Tax Hikes Top the Agenda (May 10, 2010)

With just weeks left to work out its version of the city budget, City Council is getting serious about whether Philadelphians will have to pay more in taxes. On May 13 at noon, Council will hold a hearing on a plan to hike property taxes by as much as 9 percent. It is also considering imposing a new tax on some tobacco products.

Government Can Get Creative (May 5, 2010)

Philadelphia has it pretty bad budget-wise this year. But if it is any consolation, we’re not alone. Just about every city, county, and state government is facing budget problems brought on by the bad economy. In fact, a few places have it far worse (including talk of bankruptcy in Los Angeles and our own capital city, Harrisburg). But one thing is clear – lots of places are doing things differently than Philadelphia, where city leaders seem intent this year on raising taxes while avoiding potentially painful service cuts.  We're taking a look at how other governments are handling the budget crisis and highlighting some cases where their approach is both creative and far-sighted, making changes that will have a positive effect for years to come.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CITY BUDGET (April 28, 2010)

City Council has just one month to hammer out its version of the $3.9 billion budget. The decisions that Council and the mayor will make in the days ahead will determine the kind of city we live and work in far into the future. The Committee of Seventy is starting a special series of our “IN THE KNOW” feature to help Philadelphians understand the issues, the politics, and the consequences of this year’s budget process, the third year in a row with the city facing a major budget deficit. We’ll look behind the seemingly dry facts and figures of the budget to help those that live and work in the city understand how and why their tax money is being spent.

Labor Costs and the City Budget (March 1, 2010)

During these lean times, most of us are figuring out what to cut from the family budget and ways to put a little more in the piggy bank. Imagine making these choices when nearly 60% of what has to go out the door is still a question mark. That’s what Philadelphia is now facing. As of publication, contracts for three of the City's biggest unions on issues including employees’ wages and benefits – which make up almost 60% of the general operating budget – are still unresolved. This Q&A explores strong connection between labor costs and the budget.

THE BATTLE OF THE BUDGET, PART I (February 4, 2010)

On March 4, 2010, Mayor Michael Nutter will make his Annual Budget Address to the city. Between now and the July 1 start of Fiscal Year 2011, Mayor Nutter and City Council will have tough decisions to make. This In The Know is the first installment in a series that will highlight issues that will surface during the budget discussions.

Philadelphia's Long, Hot Summer (summer 2009)

In the depth of the Great Recession, Philadelphia faced a growing crisis - after having struggled to close a budget gap of more than $1 billion over the next five years, the continuing drop in tax revenue opened the possibility of yet another $1 billion-worth of deficits. The mayor and City Council had difficulty agreeing on budget cuts and new taxes. Meanwhile, the city continued to struggle with a growing problem with the underfunded pension system and the city's four labor unions kept working without a new contract, which was already a year overdue. The Committee of Seventy launched what would evolve into the "In the Know" series to explain the complex crisis.


SURVIVING THE BUDGET CRISIS: 2010 - 2011
HOW OTHERS FACE HARD TIMES

News from around the nation:


How did we get into this budget mess? (Jan. 28, 2011)
An Austin TV station outlines how the Texas budget got so out of whack, starting with the precipitous decline in consumer spending, which wrecked tax revenue projections.

Pension issues may hurt state ratings: Moody's (Jan. 28, 2011)
Ratings agencies warn that state pension systems are so underfunded that it could hurt the states' ability to borrow money inexpensively.

City delays $1 billion bond sale for O'Hare (Jan. 28, 2011)
Chicago officials delayed borrowing more money to expand the airport after two airlines sued, saying they were adding debt recklessly.

Illinois gets $5 million from Indiana drivers who skipped tolls (Jan. 28, 2011)
A simple technical glitch - a machine accidentally left turned off - cost Indiana $7 million in uncollected tolls. Letters to drivers explaining the error  managed to collect only about $5 million of that.

Golden Gate Bridge set to shut tollbooths (Jan. 28, 2011)
Dropping the old cash tolls in favor of electronic toll payments on the iconic bridge will save at least $19 million over the next decade.

New York State Seizes Finances of Nassau County (Jan. 27, 2011)
One of the nation's wealthiest counties couldn't find a way to balance its $2.7 billion budget, prompting a state takeover.

Court strikes down state’s $31 billion capital program (Jan. 27, 2011)
An Illinois appeals court says the process used to finance a massive construction program violated the state constitution.

Teacher bonus project will get a 'hard look' (Jan. 27, 2011)
The cash-strapped Houston school system is handing out $42 million in bonuses, rewarding 92 percent of all employees, prompting the superintendent to say the bonus program may need to be revised.

Thousands of senior teaching jobs 'safe' despite state budget crisis (Jan. 26, 2011)
Many highly-paid Texas teachers are safe from layoffs because they still have long-term contracts under a now defunct program to retain experienced teachers.

Fiona Ma Refuses to Use State-Subsidized Cars Amid Looming Budget Crisis (Jan. 26, 2011)
One state lawmaker from San Francisco is striking a small blow to solve California's $25 billion budget crisis - she is turning down the use of one of the state-leased cars most assembly members use.

SEC probes Illinois pension savings projections (Jan. 26, 2011)
The feds are asking whether the governor overstated the benefits of a pension reform bill he signed last year,  misinformation that could have affected the value of bonds sold to finance the pension system.

State DOTs Collaborate and Save on Software Development (Jan. 26, 2011)
A national association of state transportation officials is hoping to save taxpayer money by developing a common new software system that all states can share.

Lawmakers want to privatize Medicaid eligibility (Jan. 25, 2011)
Utah lawmakers say a 2007 consolidation of various health-care-related offices failed to save money and now want to give the private sector a chance to do better.

Calif. high court sides with Richmond on layoffs (Jan. 25, 2011)
The California city may cut staff without union permission.

State budget crisis hitting county fairs (Jan. 25, 2011)

Sagging state budgets mean hard time for the venerable tradition of county fairs.

State treasurer warns IOUs could loom in April, May (Jan. 24, 2011)
For a second year, businesses that get funding from or do business with California  government may have to wait to get paid this summer while leaders wrangle over how to close an epic budget hole.

Do tiny townships make sense? (Jan. 24, 2011)
Indiana looks to consolidation as a cure for the high cost of local government.

Public Universities Relying More on Tuition Than State Money (Jan. 24, 2011)
As state education budgets shrink, public universities nationwide are putting more of the cost burden on students.

Brewer signs law seeking Medicaid waiver (Jan. 24, 2011)

Arizona will ask for federal permission to cut at least 280,000 residents from the health care program for the poor.

Audit: State fails to properly monitor government credit cards (Jan. 24, 2011)
Michigan is doing a poor job monitoring use of government-issued credit cards in the pockets of public employees.

N.C. Youth Center Closing Due to Budget Crisis (Jan. 24, 2011)
A half-century-old wilderness camp for troubled youth will close, possibly to be replaced by a prison for adult women.

UC regents hand out incentive pay a day after cuts (Jan. 21, 2011)
The leaders of California's top university system chose an odd way of following up a series of deep budget cuts - handing out $4 million in bonuses.

Gov. Cuomo: Budget war with lawmakers won't KO government (Jan. 21, 2011)
New York's new governor promises th ebitter fight of fixing the state's budget mess won't lead to a shutdown.

Gov. Jan Brewer seeks more control over Arizona's finances (Jan. 21, 2011)
The governor wants the power to cut spending without legislative approval.

Privatizing ABC system will be legislative issue (Jan. 21, 2011)
North Carolina's governor says allowing private stores to sell liquor would raise $300 million - not enough to overcome his opposition to the legislation.

Gov. Jerry Brown asks cities to help fix California budget (Jan. 20, 2011)
The new governor says diverting funds from redevelopment offices will help close the budget gap, but cities are balking.

'E-court' system proposed (Jan. 20, 2011)
New Hampshire hopes to save $37 million with tech upgrades in the courts.

Snyder aims to steer Michigan with an online measuring stick (Jan. 20, 2011)
The new governor hopes a new website will allow state residents see progress from his efforts to restructure state government.

Santa Paula considers drastic steps as it wrestles with budget crisis (Jan. 20, 2011)

The Southern California city considers drastic layoffs and salary cuts, including for cops and firefighters.

Proposed Texas budget cuts dig deep into education funding (Jan. 20, 2011)
Suddenly beset by one of the nation's worst budget deficits, Texas considers a 23 percent cut in funding for schools.

Reid tells Sandoval not to expect federal bailout (Jan. 19, 2011)
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid warned the governor of his home state, Nevada, that states are on their own to solve the budge mess this year; Nevada is facing a $1 billion deficit over two years.

Patrick proposal would reshape public pensions (Jan. 19, 2011)
The Massachusetts governor wants employees to delay retirement age and pay more into the pension fund.

Axes fall for police, firefighters in Camden (Jan. 19, 2011)
To fill a $26 million budget hole, the New Jersey city lays off 300 employees, including half the police department and a third of the fire department.

Analysis: Budget crisis prompts look at jail time (Jan. 18, 2011)
Louisiana begins to consider whether tough-on-crime may be too tough on the state budget.

Should lawmakers get new state cars amid budget crisis? (Jan. 18, 2011)
With California facing a record budget deficit, lawmakers are spending money on new state cars.

City commission considers fees for rental properties (Jan. 18, 2011)
A Connecticut town is considering adding a trash collection fee and inspection fee on rental units.

Budget Worries Push Governors to Same Mind-Set (Jan. 18, 2011)
The New York Times reports that hard times are forcing governors to abandon rigid ideological positions as they assume office.

California agencies ignoring advice, auditor says (Jan. 18, 2011)
State auditors say agencies have ignored scores of money-saving recommendations they have made over the last five years.

Many cities, counties fast-track redevelopment projects (Jan. 18, 2011)
Wary that the new governor may cancel projects, California cities are rushing to spend whatever state money they have in hand.

Minnesota governor to Wisconsin: Pay up (Jan. 14, 2011)
A long running dispute over a failed tax-reciprocity deal has Minnesota demanding $58 million in compensation from its neighbor.

Macomb County wants $2.8M back over Bobby Ferguson sewer contract (Jan. 14, 2011)
The Michigan county wants reimbursement for a repair contract worked out between a contractoir and former official who have been indicted for corruption.

House websites could move to open-source platform (Jan. 14, 2011)
Congress is considering IT changes that would save money and increase usability.

Amid budget crisis, hard health-care decisions: Where to cut? (Jan. 14, 2011)
Advocates say budget cuts are falling hardest among poor people with illnesses, particularly mental problems.

Casinos say they can help with California budget crisis (Jan. 14, 2011)
Gambling advocates say legalizing Internet poker could raise $1 billion over 10 years.

GOP sees opportunity in crisis (Jan. 14, 2011)
North Carolina Republicans say hard budget times offer a chance to "right-size" the public sector.

New Calif. Gov. Shakes Up Education Policy (Jan. 14, 2011)
Facing a $25 billion budget deficit, Gov. Brown has restructured the state's education bureaucracy in hopes of boosting efficiency.

Panel approves Medicaid programs audit (Jan. 13, 2011)
Wisconsin legislators want more details of the program that provides health care to up to 20 percent of all state residents at a cost approaching $7 billion in state and federal money.

State board OKs $176 million contract to oversee Medicaid (Jan. 13, 2011)
Nevada and the federal government will split the cost for the program to root out fraud and abuse in the public health care plan for the poor.

Increased fees offered as way to solve judicial budget crisis (Jan. 12, 2011)
Facing the closure of dozens of court offices statewide, Nebraska's judiciary considers raising fees for services at every level of the courts.

Gov. Jerry Brown orders California workers to turn in 48,000 cellphones (Jan. 12, 2011)
Th plan will cut half of the state-issued cell phones at a savings of $20 million per year.

Legislature passes income tax increase (Jan. 12, 2011)
Illinois legislature votes to raise income taxes 96 percent, business taxes 46 percent, and add to taxes on cigarettes and other items.

Detroit submits audit on time -- a 13-year first (Jan. 11, 2011)
The new mayor says getting the 237-report done on time shows the city is serious about dealing with its financial problems.

Tennessee state parks avert budget crisis (Jan. 11, 2011)
State leaders say bipartisan commitment to the state's natural resources have led them to maintain park funding while other states cut.

Idahoans Will Feel the Effects of Budget Crisis (Jan. 11, 2011)
The budget gap is $340 million, which is peanuts in most states, but represents 14 percent of Idaho's entire annual budget.

This Garage Could Be Yours (Jan. 11, 2011)
New Haven is considering selling parking lots and garages to help close a $65 million budget gap over two years.

Tennessee Gov.-elect Haslam says no layoffs in first year (Jan. 10, 2011)
The new governor says he will start by eliminating vacant positions first.

Baltimore police union members see pay cut by nearly 2% (Jan. 10, 2011)
City officials win an arbitration that is less favorable to officers than the one union members rejected in November.

Postal Service starts reorganizing to cut costs (Jan. 10, 2011)
Faced with $8.5 billion in red ink, officials start with administrative cuts worth $750 million.

Gov.-elect John Kasich cuts Lottery Commission employees, many with Democratic ties (Jan. 10, 2011)
The new governor begins firing non-civil service employees.

Courts changing their approach (Jan. 10, 2011)
Oregon's courts say they are not waiting for lawmakers to cut the budget - they're already looking at ways to shave costs, knowing that some kind of cuts will be coming.

Mayor Foxx Pushing City/County Consolidation (Jan. 10, 2011)

Charlotte's mayor says he hopes to cut costs by consolidating services with the surrounding county.

Brown Slashes Education Secretary, Office of First Lady (Jan. 10, 2011)
California's new governor takes small steps ($13 million in this case) to begin tackling a projected $25 billion deficit.

Budget crisis trumps new police contract (Jan. 10, 2011)
Trenton officials say they're more concerned with closing a huge budget deficit than negotiating a new contract with police; the old one expired Dec. 31.

Plan to cut graffiti removal funding in L.A. meets with criticism (Jan. 10, 2011)
The anti-graffiti program cost $1.5 million, which city officials say they cannot afford anymore.

340 state workers face privatization (Jan. 7, 2011)
Wisconsin's new governor wants to sell off parts of the Commerce Department, transferring some workers from the public to private payrolls.

Lawmaker eyes N.M. permanent funds for help with state budget crisis (Jan. 7, 2011)

Some lawmakers say New Mexico should  tap into a fund holding mineral rights and royalties to balance the budget, but critics say that would be spending the birthright of future state residents for short term gains.

L.A. budget chief says police hiring at risk without lease of city parking garages (Jan. 6, 2011)
The city says a parking privatization deal will prevent police cuts, though other departments will still need to sacrifice.

Report: Ariz. fiscal crisis cannot be solved by cuts alone (Jan. 6, 2011)
A budget analyst argues that tax hikes are inevitable.

95,000 poor Minnesotans will get Medicaid today (Jan. 6, 2011)
The health care program's expansion will bring $1.4 billion in new federal dollars, but critics say it will cost the state more in the long run.

Hines, Darling vow new rules on empty MPS buildings (Jan. 6, 2011)

Milwaukee officials vow to sell or lease surplus school property to raise cash and lower operating expenses.

State buys used buses from Alabama (Jan. 6, 2011)
South Carolina turns to used school buses as a cost saving measure.

State Budget Crisis: Where to Find One-Third of a Billion Dollars (Jan. 5, 2011)
Idaho lawmakers warn they are out of easy fixes to plug the budget hole and will look at significant program cuts this year.

Can a Two-Year Budget Help Solve California’s Financial Woes? (Jan. 5, 2011)
A think-tank proposes reforming how California drafts its budgets as a way to deal with systemic budget problems.

POLL: 60% Of The Country Wants To Balance The Budget By Taxing The Rich (Jan. 5, 2011)
A new survey shows there may be a loophole in the public's "no new taxes" mood.

N.J. Supreme Court to Weigh School Funding Cuts Amid Impasse (Jan. 5, 2011)
Justices will consider whether Gov. Christie had the authority to cut $1 billion from school funding.

Phoenix officials propose another water-rate hike (Jan. 5, 2011)
A year after hiking rates, the city says it needs to raise prices again to pay off debts and comply with federal regulations.

San Mateo County schools sue over investment loss (Jan. 5, 2011)
Several school districts say the county treasurer should have known better than to invest so heavily with Lehman Brothers, which failed in 2008, costing the systems $20 million in lost investments.

Strained States Turning to Laws to Curb Labor Unions (Jan. 4, 2011)
Facing budget deficits, many states hope that limiting the power of organized labor will help cut costs on salaries and benefits.

Council OKs plan to reorganize Baltimore Co. government (Jan. 4, 2011)
The Maryland county hopes to save $8 million annually by consolidating agencies and eliminating 140 jobs.

Detroit Public Schools: 40,000 kids to get laptops from stimulus funds (Jan. 4, 2011)
The troubled school system will use $49 million to buy computers.

Attleboro school workers to see raises (Jan. 4, 2011)

Mid-level employees in this Massachusetts school system will get the raises they gave up last year, but senior administrators remain under a salary freeze.

Perfect storm hits legal aid (Jan. 4, 2011)
Where private law firms are doing better as the economy improves, agencies and programs to provide legal services to the poor are facing another grim year.

Illinois looks to squeeze more revenue from gambling (Jan. 4, 2011)

Lawmakers want to put slot machines at racetracks, but casinos in the region worry that will hurt business and end up depressing tax revenue.

Raising user fees on Council agenda (Jan. 4, 2011)
Incoming Honolulu County Council members are eyeing increases in fees for using public property, including parking charges and use permits at parks.

Budget Crisis Forces Jan. 4 City Shutdown (Jan. 4, 2011)
City Hall in Patterson, N.J. was shut down last week by a surprise snowstorm. This week it is shut down by budget-balancing furlough days.

State ski centers face big chill (Jan. 4, 2011)
New York's network of public ski facilities must delay planned improvements as the state grapples with budget problems.

TennCare funding problem persists despite overhaul (Jan. 4, 2011)
Despite a streamlining reorganization and dropping coverage for 350,000 residents, Tennessee's public health system remains short of money.

Framingham stretches to make up for unfilled non-priority positions (Jan. 3, 2011)
Officials in this Massachusetts town say they may need to cut as many as 200 additional school and town jobs, adding pressure on an already overstretched workforce.

Budget woes force state parks to delay maintenance  (Jan. 3, 2011)
Budget cuts mean delayed maintenance at many state parks, leading to crumbling facilities nationwide.

Group: Curbing public unions won’t fix budget (Jan. 3, 2011)
Pro-union groups fight a move to weaken the power of public employee unions in Ohio.

Cuomo Plans One-Year Freeze on State Workers’ Pay (Jan. 3, 2011)

New York's new governor says the move will save up to $400 million, though the overall state deficit is nearing $9 billion.

Only 12 losing jobs from train cancellation (Jan. 3, 2011)

Cancellation of Wisconsin's $810 million high speed rail line has resulted in fewer layoffs than predicted.

Website gives exhaustive look at town budget process (Jan. 3, 2011)
The New Hampshire town of Goffstown is trying to make the budget process as transparent as possible for residents.

Editorial: Dropping flawed presidential primary makes best sense (Dec. 28, 2010)
Washington's governor wants to save up to $10 million by dropping the presidential primary in 2012 in favor of party-funded caucuses.

Tax Increase Approved For Ross Township; New Cops To Be Hired (Dec. 28, 2010)
Leaders in a small Pennsylvania town told worried residents they would hire five new cops to replace recent retirees, but the price will be a tax increase

Wake school ideas include four-day weeks (Dec. 28, 2010)
Shortening the school week and charging a fee for student athletes were the top suggestions offered by residents of this North Carolina county in response for budget cutting ideas for the schools.

Blizzard cleanup is high priority despite budget crisis, Mayor Bloomberg says (Dec. 27, 2010)
New York's mayor says the city will find the money for cleanup, estimated at $1 million per inch of snow.

A better way: Cut state pay (Dec. 27, 2010)
Reviving the Depression-era policy of cutting state workers' pay may head off a projected layoff of 21,000 North Carolina state employees.

Arizona's unmarried partners set to lose health-care benefits (Dec. 27, 2010)

The state will save $5 million by ending family benefits for 600 unmarried heterosexual partners of state workers.

Income limits raised for free birth control (Dec. 27, 2010)
Wisconsin becomes the first state to raise the income level, from twice the poverty level to three times, for a federally-subsidized program to provide contraceptives.

Pollution worries: Rose Canyon sale is off (Dec. 27, 2010)

Salt Lake County is resisting a bid for a mineral-rich scenic canyon, despite a tempting offer that would yield a $1 million profit.

Brown to cut California's Capitol Hill office from 6 to 2 (Dec. 27, 2010)
The incoming governor wants to save money, but some lawmakers say this cut may be shortsighted since lobbyists may be able to pry more money from Congress.

Scott advised to slash and merge (Dec. 22, 2010)
The transition team for Florida's incoming governor is proposing a sweeping consolidation of state agencies in addition to the governor's existing promise to cut at least 6,000 public-sector jobs.

High School Athletics victim of New York State's budget crisis (Dec. 22, 2010)
School districts have opted to save money by cutting the length of sports seasons rather than cutting teams altogether.

State Budget Crisis Question: How Can We Fix America's Deadbeat States? (Dec. 22, 2010)
A budget analysts sees only gloom in the budget crises that afflict most states.

Washington State's Budget Crisis is Worse Than You Think (Dec. 22, 2010)
An editorial writer suggests that just looking at the overall budget deficit number doesn't give an accurate picture of the challenges facing the state.

Brewer Asks Federal Lawmakers for Medicaid Help (Dec. 22, 2010)
Arizona's governor asks Washington for help in dealing with health care for the poor, which she says is forcing dire cuts in other important programs.

Soon the government check won't be in the mail (Dec. 21, 2010)
The federal government will start phasing out most paper checks by mid-year in 2011 to save money and cut down on fraud.

Report prescribes cures for state's budget crisis (Dec. 21, 2010)
A new report by budget experts says Ohio's governing structure is obsolete and "can no longer do what needs to be done."

Brown to eliminate state Office of Inspector General (Dec. 21, 2010)
California's incoming governor says the IG office duplicates the duties of other agencies and therefore is a waste of money.

New govs take office amid historic budget crisis (Dec. 21, 2010)
More than half the states have new governors next year, and those officials face a cumulative $140 billion budget deficit in their first year alone.

Ariz. DOT tries to secure revenue from logo signs (Dec. 20, 2010)
Transportation officials hope to balance the books by revamping a program to sell advertising space on rural road signs.

Denied by state, transplant candidate must raise funds (Dec. 20, 2010)
Arizona says it can no longer afford expensive transplant services for Medicaid patients.

City budget crisis could force long-overdue change (Dec. 20, 2010)
Tight budgets are forcing Cincinnati officials to take a new look at ways to streamline government, including consolidating services with the surrounding county.

New governor, legislature face $6.2 billion deficit (Dec. 20, 2010)
Minnesota's new governor faces not only a budget gap, but a stark ideological divide over how to fix it.

State debt for jobless benefits looming (Dec. 20, 2010)
Ohio finds itself $2.3 billion in debt to the federal government for unemployment benefits, but with no way to pay back the loan.

New governors get private funds for inaugurals (Dec. 20, 2010)
A large class of newly-elected governors find themselves seeking private donations to pay for inaugural celebrations.

Bell nearly broke, faces drastic cuts, audit finds (Dec. 20, 2010)
A sprawling scandal over extremely high pay for city officials, coupled with the state budget disaster, leaves this California city on the edge of bankruptcy.

Governor examines pension system (Dec. 20, 2010)
Virginia's governor is asking state workers to begin making payments to the pension fund for the first time in 30 years.

City Budget Crisis Gutting Dept. of Cultural Affairs (Dec. 17, 2010)
Chicago's main office for developing and maintaining a popular series of festivals and events has been hit hard by budget cuts and layoffs.

Poll: Chicago casino support growing  (Dec. 17, 2010)
While it is still slightly short of a majority, more Chicago residents approve of allowing casino gambling as a way to balance the budget.

Annapolis soliciting private donations to pay for public events  (Dec. 17, 2010)
The mayor met with business leaders and asked for donations, saying the city can no longer afford the full cost of events such as the Fourth of July fireworks.

Malloy tells labor he'll 'protect the most vulnerable' from budget cuts (Dec. 16, 2010)
Connecticut's incoming governor tells workers he will not join other governors nationwide in targeting public unions to cut the budget.

Deal: State government workforce too big (Dec. 16, 2010)
Georgia's incoming governor tells business leaders "we may not be able to justify those in the public sector any longer."

CalPERS seeks better deal from Lehman Brothers liquidation (Dec. 16, 2010)
California's vast public pension fund wants a bigger share of the $57 billion final settlement stemming from the 2008 bankruptcy of the financial services giant (CalPERS lost $430 million in that collapse and stands to get back as little as $7.3 million in the currently proposed settlement).

St. Clair County to lay off 13 of 46 deputies (Dec. 16, 2010)
The Missouri county says it had no choice after the union rejected a plan that would have limited raises to 1 percent next year.

UAF to lay off most of staff at its supercomputer center (Dec. 16, 2010)
A cost-saving consolidation by the Defense Department means the University of Alaska will lose its supercomputing center, one of only six in the country.

More state parks to close (Dec. 16, 2010)
Three more parks in upstate New York will close in January, though at least two may be partially saved if nearby towns agree to pick up some of the cost.

GOP points state budget scalpel at Medicaid (Dec. 15, 2010)
Ohio's new legislative majority is looking to cut costs by looking for more efficient ways to deliver health care services to  the poor.

Brown calls state budget crisis ‘unprecedented moment of reckoning’ (Dec. 15, 2010)
California's incoming governor says the state has never faced such a serious financial crisis, not even in the Depression, when government was a much smaller and less powerful entity.

Washington state tries to collect pot sales tax (Dec. 15, 2010)
Even as prosecutors and critics argue that medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal, state officials are trying to collect sales tax from the operators.

Gregoire plan: Merge state agencies, eliminate boards (Dec. 15, 2010)
In the face of a $4.6 billion deficit, Washington's governor plans to eliminate three dozen commissions and boards and consolidate 21 state agencies into just nine.

Gov.-elect John Kasich wants to overhaul collective bargaining law (Dec. 15, 2010)
Ohio's incoming governor proposes changes to public union contracts, including allowing the state to fire striking workers.

Council votes to hold on to surplus funds (Dec. 14, 2010)
Concord, New Hampshire will end the year in the black, but City Council is resisting calls to spend the bonanza to make sure next year isn't an unpleasant surprise.

Gregoire aims to rein in state pension costs (Dec. 14, 2010)
Washington's governor is calling for an end to automatic benefit hikes for retirees and limits on health care coverage.

Potential Medicaid cuts would affect disabled adults (Dec. 14, 2010)
South Carolina's legislature is considering cuts to health care aid for the poor.

Ingram ‘just not comfortable’ with price tag (Dec. 14, 2010)
A school board member in Illinois is balking at the cost of several building projects in light of state and local budget problems.

Jindal vows to shrink budget gap (Dec. 13, 2010)
Louisiana's governor says he being "aggressive" in coming up with budget cutting ideas, including selling state buildings and privatizing the employee health system.

Despite deficit, health administrators get raises (Dec. 13, 2010)
Even as Cook County, Illinois's budget struggles, administrators in the county health system got raises up to $40,000 per year.

Cameron Art Museum asks for money from city, county (Dec. 13, 2010)
Despite taking a PR beating for asking for taxpayer money last year (a request that was denied), a North Carolina museum is back asking for $50,000 this year.

Oklahoma Budget Crisis Could Lead To Major Changes (Dec. 12, 2010)

A firm legislative majority opposes raising taxes, and easy cuts have already been made, so the state's governor will be forecd to make major structural changes in the 2012 budget.

Despite Wealth, Nassau County Is in Fiscal Crisis (Dec. 12, 2010)
Being among the riches counties in the country has not saved this prosperous New York suburb from teetering on the edge of insolvency.

Mid-year budget shortfall could bring layoffs at Duluth schools (Dec. 12, 2010)
A $1 million drop in revenue spells at least 20 layoffs.

Will Jerry Brown Raise California Taxes? (Dec. 12, 2010)
Lawmakers say the governor-elect outlines his plans in a closed door session, never using the word "taxes," but making clear he needs new revenue sources.

Arizona's Brewer to request federal waiver to cut Medicaid (Dec. 12, 2010)
The Governor asks permission to cut some of the state's poor from the program.

Personnel board votes to save 82 political appointments (Dec. 12, 2010)
A Kentucky personnel board has declared 82 political appointees off limits for a new law that would have abolished them for a savings of $5 million.

Arguing over size of budget flames (Dec. 12, 2010)
Officials say Stockton, California is on the brink of bankruptcy, but union officials say they are exaggerating.

Pier Put On Hold (Dec. 12, 2010)
Among the small casualties of the budget crisis? A new concrete fishing pier in North Carolina is on hold until times get better.

Judge refuses to halt sale of two dozen state government buildings (Dec. 12, 2010)
A California court OKs the state's plan to sell off government buildings to raise $2.3 billion in a hurry.

Quinn to end Put Illinois to Work (Dec. 12, 2010)
The governor says the $122 million program helped less than 10 percent of participants find jobs.

Cities Compete for 2012 Democratic Convention (Dec. 12, 2010)
Hoping for an infusion of cash, four struggling cities - Charlotte, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Cleveland - are scrambling to host the 2012 political convention.

FDNY wants cash for car-crash help (Dec. 10, 2010)
With New York's budget strained to the limit, the fire department is considering billing motorists involved in accidents to which emergency units respond.

School Officials Plan For Future Budget Crisis (Dec. 10, 2010)
With no sign of recovery in government funding, one Ohio school district is planning for cuts as far as six years down the road.

More U.S. Rail Funds for 13 States as 2 Reject Aid (Dec. 10, 2010)
The decision by Ohio and Wisconsin to abandon planned high-speed rail lines as a cost saving measure means more money for other states, transportation officials say, since the federal government will simply redistribute the money to other projects.

Georgia Gov: Education budget may shrink again (Dec. 10, 2010)
The incoming governor says more cuts are coming, including in the nationally known HOPE scholarships, funded by lottery sales.

Fiscal problems unlikely to ease soon (Dec. 10, 2010)

Even with recent budget cuts and structural reforms, New Jersey is likely looking at years of deficits, experts warn.

Bredesen rejects bonus for workers (Dec. 10, 2010)
Tennessee's public employee union says the state's revenue has improved enough that workers should get the bonus lawmakers had promised provisionally earlier this year. The governor disagrees.

Online budget reports to keep taxpayers informed (Dec. 9, 2010)
Illinois's governor has ordered speedier online reporting of revenues and expenses so state residents can better understand the budget crisis.

Report: NM Pre-Kindergarten Shrinks Amid Budget Crisis (Dec. 9, 2010)
A new Pew study finds that budget cuts have hurt early childhood education programs.

California's gift to e-tailers (Dec. 9, 2010)
Budget officials say the state losses more than $1 billion per year in sales taxes to online transactions.

Spring Classes Cut In Response To Budget Crisis (Dec. 9, 2010)
California's Valley College was forced to cut 120 classes at the last minute to save $500,000.

Health costs sap state aid for schools (Dec. 9, 2010)
Costs for employee benefits are growing far faster than aid for improving education, leaving Massachusetts schools severely underfunded.

St. Louis may give taxpayer donations to private animal shelter (Dec. 9, 2010)

Residents donated $230,000 to build a new city shelter, but city officials are now considering giving that to a private shelter instead.

County Employees Face Big Cuts in Salaries, Benefits (Dec. 9, 2010)
Even in Maryland's wealthiest county, workers are facing cuts in salary, benefits, and retirement benefits.

O'Malley offers buyout to state workers (Dec. 8, 2010)
Maryland's newly reelected governor looks to shrink the state workforce by offering a $15,000 severance package to workers that quit by the end of January.

OpEd: Cuts will barely pare total N.C. spending (Dec. 8, 2010)
A budget analyst says looming cuts in the state budget still leave a government far larger than it was a decade ago.

Walker looks at showdown with state employee unions (Dec. 8, 2010)
Wisconsin's incoming governor says he is looking at many options to control the cost of government, up to abolishing the state's public labor unions.

OpEd:South Carolina flushes its future away (Dec. 8, 2010)
A columnist argues that short terms savings from cuts in education and poverty-reduction programs will mean long term pain for the state.

$500 million belt-tightening ordered (Dec. 8, 2010)
Facing a ballooning budget deficit, Texas agencies are being ordered to make an additional $500 million in cuts, on top of the $1.2 billion they have already made.

California legislature called into special session (Dec. 7, 2010)
In his final weeks in office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping lawmakers can agree on a plan to close, at least partly, a $25 billion budget deficit for next year.

Walker seeks quasi-private jobs agency (Dec. 7, 2010)
Wisconsin's incoming governor wants a privatized economic development agency to improve the state's business climate.

Oakland Police Department shrinking fast (Dec. 7, 2010)
The city is paying dearly for laying off 80 officers earlier this year - the department has been unable to replace 32 officers that have since retired or quit; up to 70 more are looking to retire or leave and 77 officers are out because of work-related injuries.

Kitzhaber: Budget crisis an opportunity to rethink Ore. government, focus on young children (Dec. 7, 2010)
Oregon's incoming governor says structural reforms, not budget cuts, are the answer to the financial crisis.

Gregoire: Special session to deal with budget crisis (Dec. 7, 2010)
Washington's governor will call a special session of the legislature before Christmas to consider budget problems.

Experts Warn Of Charlotte Budget Crisis Involving Police, Firefighter Pay (Dec. 7, 2010)
A mayoral panel says automatic 5 percent cost of living raises must end.

Texas Considers Dropping Medicaid as States Face Budget Crisis (Dec. 7, 2010)
Lawmakers consider ending the federal program in favor of a less restrictive state-run version, but that could cost Texas at least $15 billion in federal aid.

Wash. State Agency Lobbyists In Republican Crosshairs (Dec. 7, 2010)
State agencies should drop lobbying contracts to save money, some lawmakers say.

City furloughs could save Houston $1 million (Dec. 6, 2010)
Allowing Houston city workers to volunteer for days off without pay will help close a $30 million budget hole.

State's fiscal crisis leaves 16 CNY farms waiting for cash (Dec. 6, 2010)
Some New York farmers agreed not to sell out to developers to preserve rural landscapes, but now the cash-strapped state is reneging on its promise to compensate them.

Jindal returns to Louisiana to discuss the budget crisis (Dec. 6, 2010)
Stung by growing criticism of his travel habits, Louisiana's governor ends a book tour to deal with budget problems back home.

Aerotropolis approved for tax incentives, could lure jobs (Dec. 3, 2010)
Michigan's state lawmakers approve a massive package of tax incentives to help attract businesses around two Detroit-area airports.

Is The State Budget Crisis Massively Overblown? (Dec. 3, 2010)
Amid the doom and gloom about state budgets, one analyst firm says we're worrying too much.

Soccer stadium a done deal for Dynamo (Dec. 3, 2010)
Although Houston's pro soccer team is building the new stadium, city and county officials are coughing up at least $36 million to make the project happen.

Ohio Budget Cuts Could Release Prisoners Early (Dec. 3, 2010)
The sheriff of Clark County warns he will be unable to keep all his prisoners in jail is state lawmakers follow through on planned cuts.

Brown to go public with California's dire budget news (Dec. 3, 2010)
After winning a tough race to become governor, Jerry Brown is undertaking an even tougher job: explaining to state residents exactly what a $25 billion budget deficit really means for them.

State employee unions resist further cuts to offset revenue losses (Dec. 2, 2010)
Washington state's public employee unions say they will not go along with calls from the governor for wage and benefit concessions.

Georgia Sales Taxes on Groceries Again? (Dec. 2, 2010)
The state is considering restoring a 4 percent tax on groceries, abolished a decade ago in better economic times.

Editorial: City budget crisis presents opportunity (Dec. 1, 2010)
Cincinnati.com argues that officials have run out of easy ways to cope and need to rethink how government works.

Funding cuts hurt crimes against children (Dec. 1, 2010)
Budget cuts in one New Mexico county mean more than 1,000 cases of child abuse are going unprosecuted (video).

School Lunches: High Demand In Bad Economy (Dec. 1, 2010)
North Carolina's large fee lunch program is under funding pressure just as demand is rising.

Newark Fires Cops (Dec. 1, 2010)
The troubled New Jersey City lays off 167 officers, about 13 percent of its force.

Police union wants L.A. to restore overtime instead of hiring more cops (Dec. 1, 2010)
The chief wants more officers, but the union wants current officers to work longer.

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