The study, called Financial State of the Cities 2023, was done by Truth in Accounting. It has some difficult truths: 50 out of 75 cities could not pay their bills; the combined debt for all 75 cities is $267 billion. Moreover, elected officials didn’t include the cost of government in this figure, instead pushing it onto future taxpayers."
This year's report found that 31 states did not have enough money to pay all of their bills.
Did you know that many cities, such as Chicago and Los Angeles, do not include the financial information of their school districts and other underlying entities in their financial reports and budgets? The result is taxpayers are on the hook for far more debt than they know. To provide a more complete picture of the 10 most populous U.S. cities including their largest underlying government units, Truth in Accounting has released its annual City Combined Taxpayer Burden report.
By Angela Coloumbis, Joseph DiStefano and Craig Moody, includes “Members of the board of Pennsylvania’s $73 billion school pension fund won’t be required to sign nondisclosure agreements before hearing on Monday the long-awaited findings of an internal investigation into the mammoth plan. … ”
By Rob Kozlowski, includes “One such panel, the Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System board, faces a reckoning over its governance even as the retirement system it oversees is under federal investigation over an error in its reported investment figures. … ”
By Victor Skinner (The Center Square), includes “Truth in Accounting CEO Sheila Weinberg told The Center Square that Pennsylvania lost points for using prior year pension numbers, a combined $18 billion in assets and liabilities in confusing ‘deferred inflows and outflows’ accounts, and the way officials report liabilities for the Public School Employees’ Retirement System.”
By Carter Walker, includes “Lancaster County Government isn’t planning to raise property taxes next year, but it’s breaking from its own norm in budgeting in order to fill a $3 million revenue gap. … had the county budgeted using the method it did in 2020 and in the years prior to that, there would have been a $3.4 million gap between revenue and expenses.”
Op-ed by Nathan Benefield, includes “Here’s what Pennsylvania taxpayers can expect from Harrisburg over the next two years: overspending and massive deficits. Unfortunately, overspending is also national problem. We all know it: Politicians like promising 'free stuff' to buy votes. But voters may be wising up. ”
By Charles Thompson, includes “Grossman, 54, and PSERS’ CIO since 2013, is the highest paid employee in state government, making $485,421 a year according to the state’s salary database. But his aggressive investment strategies have increasingly come into question by the board in recent years as the fund has failed …”
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 Carter Walker, includes “… ‘A growing imbalance between how much money the city raises and its overall expenses, combined with a dwindling cash reserve, is threatening to send the city toward municipal bankruptcy in the next few years if it is not addressed. … Our inability … in moving our county delegation to support additional tools for the city is disappointing, and what it means for the long-term sustainability of the city, …”
By Arthur Morris, includes “… While I am a supporter of property tax reform, let me attempt to explain why I am troubled by the mayor’s argument.” (Note: The differing interpretations for Lancaster are partly driven by how state and local government keep two sets of books, including general fund “balance sheets” using cash-basis-like accounting principles that can be deceptive.)
By Jen Sidorova, includes “For investment managers of public pension plans, the pressure to achieve high returns has increased in recent years. … Private equity investing, which public pensions hope will bring higher returns, has become more common in portfolios. However, this strategy comes with a higher level of investment volatility, higher investment fees, and a noted lack of transparency.”
AP story, includes “The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has joined a federal probe of Pennsylvania’s largest pension fund and is seeking among other things records to determine whether improper ‘compensation and gifts’ may have been offered staff … ”
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 Geoff Mulvihill, includes “The Pew Charitable Trust report credits a booming stock market over the past year as well as states’ longer-term steps, which include boosting taxpayer contributions to public pension funds and reducing promised retirement benefits, particularly to newly hired workers. … The health of public pension systems resonates beyond government employees.”
By Joseph DiStefano, includes “Pennsylvania’s pension plan for teachers is at war with itself over how to invest its mammoth $70 billion fund. Put aside the lingering FBI investigation."
Editorial, includes “The PSERS has been having quite a year. Executives with the $67 billion pension fund for Pennsylvania’s public school teachers were found to have stayed in lavish hotels on the agency’s dime."