Early Warning Systems Can Help States Identify Signs of Fiscal Distress

Link: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2021/03/04/early-warning-systems-can-help-states-identify-signs-of-fiscal-distress?utm_campaign=2021-03-09+Squeeze+map&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Pew

Excerpt:

In a white paper for The Pew Charitable Trusts, Eric Scorsone and Natalie Pruett of the Michigan State University Extension’s Michigan Center for Local Government Finance & Policy assessed local government early warning systems through case studies in Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Each of these states applies various financial ratios—an approach known as ratio analysis—and other indicators to identify signs of local fiscal distress. Ratio analysis uses fractions that capture financial or economic activity within a locality—such as total expenditures over total revenues—to measure solvency, the ability to pay debts and liabilities over the short or long term. Ultimately, the authors determined that there isn’t one optimal system and instead offer several recommendations for states to build or improve their early warning systems.

The authors present detailed descriptions of the four states’ systems and analyze trade-offs and implications of the indicators employed to measure different types of solvency. They offer a variety of recommendations for states to consider, including use of indicators for four types of solvency:

Author(s): Jeff Chapman

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: Pew Trusts

As Federal Aid Stalled, State And Local Governments Issued Bonds To Pay Current Bills

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizfarmer/2021/01/30/as-congress-stalled-on-a-relief-package-governments-relied-on-borrowing-to-pay-the-bills/?

Excerpt:

Between August and mid-December of 2020, at least one-quarter of large bond issuances in the municipal market involved some form of deficit financing, according to an analysis by Municipal Market Analytics (MMA). The firm analyzed 442 municipal bond issuances that totaled at least $100 million.

MMA’s Matt Fabian and Lisa Washburn added that their tally was conservative and that as many as half of those 442 issuances may have involved deficit financing because the ultimate use of the money wasn’t always clear.

“These are not typical uses of the municipal bond market, where an overwhelming majority of financing is for long-term infrastructure projects,” they told the Pew Charitable Trusts. “But last year, with state and local governments seeking as much as possible to avoid cutting spending, raising taxes, or postponing pension payments, they shifted their emphasis to short-term and temporary solutions. As the pandemic continued and federal stimulus money dried up, they increasingly took on debt for budgetary help.”

Author(s): Liz Farmer

Publication Date: 30 January 2021

Publication Site: Forbes