Shouldn’t New Jersey be thinking about taking over Atlantic City?

One of the most under-appreciated causes for municipal fiscal distress is state officials’ deep reluctance to get involved. As a legal matter, nothing’s stopping them, but governors and legislatures see little in it for themselves in taking over a distressed city. They put off intervening …

Did the UFT leadership go too far with Sharpton?

Al Sharpton’s rally on Staten Island this weekend to protest Eric Garner’s death due to a police choke-hold came and went peacefully. But the rally laid bare significant divisions between members of the United Federation of Teachers and the union’s leadership as well as tensions …

Blue Repudiation in Connecticut?

In November, Connecticut will hold a referendum on the first Democratic governor to lead the state in two decades. What do the state’s voters think about one-party rule? Judging from the unpopularity of Gov. Dannel Malloy, most seem interested in an alternative to the status …

Does democracy cause pension mismanagement?

Red states’ pension management records can be just as irresponsible as blue states’, to be sure. But a new paper suggests that the real threat may come from purple America. The University of Michigan’s Sutirtha Bagchi lays out a carefully quantified case that fiscal irresponsibility stems …

A look ahead at the 2014 elections

With party polarization preventing action at the national level, especially for the last two years of the Obama presidency, the action of American government will continue to be at the state and local level.
There are a number of races this fall with big implications for …

More about our bulging public school payrolls

Back in 2011 I wrote a piece in the Wall St. Journal about the increase in local government payrolls over the decades, focusing in particular on school systems and the rise in both teacher-to-student ratios and also the sharp increase in non-teaching employees. Some defenders of the schools wrote in to suggest the growth in employees had been driven by demographic factors, including a sharp increase in special ed students and students who spoke English as a second language…

How to opt out of public sector unions

Crossposted at economics21.org
This week is National Employee Freedom Week, a nationwide effort of 81 groups in 45 states to raise awareness among public union employees that they can opt out of membership in their unions. Groups also provide members with the necessary help and resources to do …

SEC lashes Kansas with a wet noodle

The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued another toothless set of fraud charges against a state. The regulator has cited Kansas for misleading investors about the condition of its severely underfunded pension system and the risks that purchasers of its bonds potentially faced. As in its earlier actions against New Jersey and Illinois, the SEC levied no fines nor recommended anyone to prosecutors for further investigations, even though all of these SEC actions have accused the states of fraud…

The Big Apple’s big pension bite

A front-page story in The New York Times last week at least briefly pierced the fog of complacency that seems to have once again surrounded the issue of public pensions in New York.
Despite a huge increase in pension outlays since 2000, the hole in New York City’s pension …

ZIRP Myths

Public pension funds around the country are scrambling to reach the ambitious target returns set by state and local governments looking for an easy way out of retirement obligations. The looming pension crisis is aggravated by the Federal Reserve’s zero-interest-rate policy (ZIRP). While being ineffective …