Lisa's Feed
Jul 14, 2012

At annual meeting, U.S. governors come out swinging over Medicaid

WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia (Reuters) – The Supreme Court decision allowing U.S. states to opt out of expanding Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, is pitting governor against governor, with Democrats accusing Republicans of being more concerned with election-year politics than solving healthcare problems.

The issue that dominated the annual National Governors Association meeting this weekend in the historic Virginia town of Williamsburg was the court’s ruling that Congress cannot penalize states who refuse to enroll a wider group of people in Medicaid, which is operated by states with federal reimbursements.

Jun 28, 2012

U.S. ruling casts doubt on expanding healthcare for the poor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – While the Supreme Court upheld a U.S. healthcare overhaul on Thursday, its decision cast doubt on whether the plan to extend health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people will reach some of the poorest Americans.

In its ruling, the court allows states to opt out of an expansion of Medicaid benefits for low-income earners with household incomes of up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $30,000. The current Medicaid threshold varies geographically, but in 33 states is under the $22,000 per household definition of poverty.

Jun 28, 2012

Pension rules positive for US states, locals-Fitch

June 28 (Reuters) – The massive overhaul of accounting for
U.S. public pensions is “generally positive” for state and local
governments, Fitch Ratings said on Thursday.

The new rules approved by the Governmental Accounting
Standards Board on Monday “will reflect a narrower range of
assumptions and will recognize changes in a more conservative
manner than current standards allow,” Fitch said.

Jun 27, 2012

U.S. recovery varies greatly by state, county, city

By Lisa Lambert

(Reuters) – In a twist on the old aphorism about real estate, the three most important factors for the current U.S. economic recovery seem to be location, location, location.

Growth right now is “extremely concentrated” in a few states, said Chris Mauro head of U.S. Municipal Research Strategy at RBC Capital Markets, adding that there has been “a general stagnation, with the exception of some of the resource-rich states.”

Jun 25, 2012

New rules may make public pensions appear weaker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New accounting rules approved on Monday are likely to show public pension funds are in a weaker financial position than previously thought and intensify disputes over how public retirement systems are funded.

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board, which sets the accounting standards for the public sector, finalized a single system of accounting to replace the menu of financial reporting options public pension funds currently use.

Jun 23, 2012

U.S. public workers say organized labor at a turning point

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – As America’s biggest state and local government employees’ union gathered here this week, it faced obstacles like never before. After a big defeat in Wisconsin, and under pressure to accept cuts in jobs, pay, pensions and benefits, it needed to give convincing answers.

Lee Saunders, who became the union’s first African American president on Friday, said the fight was “just getting started.” He said the mission for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was to save nothing less than organized labor itself.

Jun 18, 2012

U.S. public retiree benefits gap grows to $1.38 trillion

By Lisa Lambert and Hilary Russ

(Reuters) – The funding gap for U.S. state public employee retirement benefits climbed by $120 billion to $1.38 billion in fiscal 2010, according to a report released on Monday.

The report comes at a time when many voters and politicians already claim that compensation for public employees is bloated.

Jun 18, 2012

US public retiree benefits gap grows to $1.38 trln

June 18 (Reuters) – The funding gap for U.S. state public
employee retirement benefits climbed by $120 billion to $1.38
billion in fiscal 2010, according to a report released on
Monday.

The report comes at a time when many voters and politicians
already claim that compensation for public employees is bloated.

Jun 18, 2012

New U.S. union chief to face war over benefits

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – When the largest U.S. union for public sector employees elect its first new president in a generation next week it will be a watershed moment. The new chief will be running an organization whose members are fighting almost unprecedented cuts in jobs, benefits, bargaining rights – and increasingly angry taxpayers who question the size of their pension and healthcare benefits.

With many U.S. states, cities and counties struggling to balance their budgets and facing big pension and health care funding deficits, employee costs are the obvious target. Underlining its problems, the labor movement was defeated in a recall election in the state of Wisconsin earlier this month when voters sided with Republican Governor Scott Walker, who had taken bold moves to limit union collective bargaining powers.

Jun 15, 2012

State jobless rates drop, raise election stakes

By Lisa Lambert

(Reuters) – Jobless rates in 49 out of the 50 U.S. states dropped in May from a year earlier, the Labor Department said on Friday, raising the stakes in a presidential contest where job creation is the top issue.

Only New York’s rate rose from May 2011, to 8.6 percent. Compared with April, jobless rates were higher in 18 states, lower in 14 states and the District of Columbia, and unchanged in 18 states.