By Scott Shackford, includes “Birmingham News columnist John Archibald reports, ‘In a two-year period between 2018 and 2020 Brookside revenues from fines and forfeitures soared more than 640 percent and now make up half the city's total income.’ According to the records Archibald reviewed, Brookside as of 2020 was arresting more people for misdemeanors than it has residents.”
To encourage the publication of transparent and accurate government financial information, Truth in Accounting has created a transparency score for financial reporting by the states.
By Jared Walczak, includes “At the federal level, the state and local tax (SALT) deduction has emerged as a hot-button political issue ever since the deduction was capped at $10,000 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017. The SALT deduction has defenders as well as detractors, but a peculiar inversion of it—a state deduction for federal taxes paid—exists in only six states.”
By Mary Sell, includes “Like Alabama families watching the rising costs for groceries, gasoline and other goods, state officials are monitoring inflation increases that could impact government budgets and buying power. … ‘One of the biggest problems with inflation is it brings an instability into factor,’ Albritton said.”
PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Truth in Accounting's twelfth annual Financial State of the States report, a nationwide analysis of the most recent state government financial information.
By Michelle Mann, includes “As part of the agreement, the county will appropriate a flat fee of 6 percent to ACCA for a five-year period for the services..."
By Mike Cason, includes “The Legislature will have to approve use of the American Rescue Plan money within guidelines set by the U.S. Treasury Department. State and local governments have until the end of 2024 to use the money. … A few weeks ago, the Treasury Department released 150 pages of rules on how state and local governments can spend the money. ”
The 2020 Financial State of the States report surveys the fiscal health of the 50 states prior to the coronavirus pandemic. This data is released today by Truth in Accounting (TIA), a think tank that analyzes government financial reporting.
How large could the shortfall in state government general revenues be, amidst the coronavirus and related crises?
The U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted at the very end of 2017, which limited the deduction of state and local taxes to $10,000, has focused attention on the vast differences among municipal levies.
In the worst-case scenario, if Birmingham officials continue to ignore the Retirement & Relief Pension Plan, unfunded liabilities could ultimately drive the city into bankruptcy.
“The City of Birmingham’s general obligation bond rating and issuer default rating (IDR) was downgraded … Fitch views the city’s underfunding of the pension as a form of deficit financing or liability deferral that creates larger future obligations on the city’s operating budget. … The Fitch report said ‘the city’s solid revenue framework and healthy fund balances” supports the A+ rating.’” (Note: downgraded to an A+. Hmm.)
“…It is clear that partial pension reform will not be sufficient to meet these liabilities. Our study points to several avenues for structurally reforming the RSA, including successful reforms implemented in Utah and Michigan. While legislators cannot – and should not – change obligations already incurred, they can reform the pension system for future employees and offer current employees the voluntary option to transition to a new system.”
“Alabama's employee pension fund, with nearly 360,000 members and some $44 billion in managed assets, has become sole owner of one of the largest chains of local U.S. newspapers, the company said Thursday. … Financial details weren't announced. … Alabama's pension fund has other non-traditional investments including golf courses, airliners and the largest office building in New York City, 55 Water.”
For localities worried about facing big bond-market penalties if they go bankrupt, consider Jefferson County.
The filing deadlines for candidates to enter state legislative races have already passed in 31 states.
Look, employees can’t be fully shielded from the risks borne in a pension plan. It’s not feasible.
The Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General is tasked with keeping track of more than $30 billion a year in state spending.