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State and local government fiscal systems have increasingly become vulnerable to economic changes. Over the past three decades, state and local deficits during economic recession have been larger and deeper each time. The impact of the Great Recession and its aftermath of feeble growth and lingering high unemployment has been dramatic both in scope and intensity. Before the crisis, long-term structural deficits were persistent for both individual governments and the entire sector as spending plans and patterns outpaced governments' revenue-generating capacity. The revenue systems of these governments eroded while the workloads and scope on the expenditure side of the state and local system budget continued to grow. This handbook evaluates the persistent problems in the fiscal systems of state and local governments and what can be done to solve them. It contains 35 chapters authored by 60 practitioners and academics who are renowned scholars in state and local finance. Each chapter provides a description of the discipline area, examines major developments in policy, practices and research, and opines on future prospects. The chapters are divided into four sections. Section I is a systematic discussion of the institutional, economic, and political framework that provides a background for understanding the structure and financial performance of the state and local sector. The chapters in Section II provide an overview of the various components of state and local revenue systems and how they reacted to the Great Recession. They analyze the diverse forms of taxes and charges in detail, prescribe remedies and alternatives, and examine the implications for future revenue performance. Chapters in Section III turn to spending, borrowing and financial management in the state and local sector. The focus is on the big six service delivery sectors: education, health care, human services, transportation, pensions, and housing. Section IV is a set of chapters that look ahead and speculate about how the state and local government sector's money-raising, spending, and service delivery structures will adjust to the new circumstances.
Robert D. Ebel is Research Professor of Economics at the University of the District of Columbia. For the period 2006-2009 he served as Deputy Chief Financial Officer for Revenue analysis and Chief Economist for the Washington, DC government. Earlier, Ebel was a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute/Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center (TPC) and Lead Economist for the World Bank Institute's Capacity Building programs on Public Finance, Intergovernmental Relations, and Local Financial Management.
John Petersen is Professor of Public Policy and Finance at the School of Public Policy, George Mason University. Prior to joining the faculty, he was President and Division Director of the Government Finance Group, a financial research and advisory firm. Earlier, Petersen served as Senior Director of the Government Finance Research Center of the Government Finance Officers Association. Petersen has written the finance column for Governing Magazine for twenty years and in 2011 received the Ken Howard Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management.
Table of Contents
Introduction: State and Local Government Finance in the United States
The Economic, Demographic, and Institutional Framework
The Constitutional Frameworks of State and Local / Government Finance
Federalism Trends, Tensions, and Outlook
State and Local Government Finance: Why It Matters
State and Local Governments and the National Economy
The Evolving Financial Architecture of State and Local Governments
Profiles of Local Government Finance
Federal Preemption of Revenue Autonomy
State Intergovernmental Grant Programs
State and Local Fiscal Institutions in Recession and Recovery
Revenue Structures and Systems
Real Property Tax
State Personal Income Taxes
State Corporate Income Taxes
Entity Taxation of Business Enterprises
Implications of a Federal Value-Added Tax for State and Local Governments
Retail Sales and Use Taxation
Local Revenue Diversification: User Charges, Sales Taxes, and Income Taxes
State Tax Administration: Seven Problems in Search of a Solution
Spending, Borrowing, and Financial Management
Providing and Financing K-12 Education
The Social Safety Net, Health Care, and the Great Recession
Housing Policy: The Evolving Subnational Role
Captial Budgeting and Spending
Financial Markets and State and Local Governments
Infrastructure Privatization in the New Millennium
Financial Emergencies: Default and Bankruptcy
Government Financial-Reporting Standards: Reviewing the Past and Present, Anticipating the Future
Pullback Management: State Budgeting under Fiscal Stress
Public Employee Pensions and Investments
Looking Ahead: Reforming and Restructuring
Accomplishing State Budget Policy and Process Reforms
Fiscal Austerity and the Future of Federalism
Achieving Fiscal Sustainability for State and Local Governments
The Intergovernmental Grant System
Community Associations at Middle Age: Considering the Options
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