Lisa's Feed
Feb 22, 2012

Aimed at banks, Volcker Rule hits unlikely targets

By Lisa Lambert and David Gaffen

(Reuters) – Some public agencies that rely on the municipal bond market for financing fear that a landmark financial reform rule will cripple their ability to sell bonds and make it more expensive to raise money for crucial services.

The Volcker Rule was designed to curb the risks that banks take with depositor dollars, a practice known as proprietary trading. But the rule risks ensnaring public agencies ranging from housing agencies to hospital authorities because the way muni bonds are sold and traded results in banks risking their own capital — the very practice banned under the Volcker Rule.

Feb 13, 2012

Obama seeks to cut municipal bond tax breaks

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) – U.S.
President Barack Obama on Monday proposed
limiting tax breaks given to high-income earners on the interest
paid by municipal bonds, a change that could rock the $3.7
trillion market if approved.

In his fiscal 2013 budget, Obama reiterated his desire to
cut tax breaks for families with incomes over $250,000, saying
they should only be allowed to reduce their tax liabilities to
28 percent from the current 35 percent.

Feb 9, 2012

Beyond crisis: Michigan gov says to ‘invest wisely’

Feb 9 (Reuters) – The governor of Michigan, slammed by
the recent recession, on Thursday proposed setting
aside $130 million in reserves in case another economic crisis
hits.

The state is expecting a budget surplus of more than $600
million in the fiscal year starting in October.

Feb 8, 2012

Senate seeks new avenues for U.S. highway funding

WASHINGTON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – As Washington struggles
to find ways to pay for highway and road repairs, the U.S.
Senate is considering relying on a wide array of revenue sources
that go far beyond the traditional gas tax, including measures
such as changes in how inherited retirement accounts are taxed.

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved
legislation for funding highway and road repairs that is a
radical departure from the financing bill currently in the House
of Representatives.

Feb 6, 2012

Waivers not enough, US states want new schools law

Feb 6 (Reuters) – Policymakers across the United
States are pushing Congress to pass a new education plan, saying
current law and recent measures undertaken by President Barack
Obama will not work in the long-term.

In a letter to members of both chambers, the National
Governors Association, the National Conference of State
Legislatures, the Council of State Governments and the National
Association of Counties ask for Congress’s “leadership and
urgency to fix and reform” national education policy.

Feb 3, 2012

Funding for transit in peril-groups, Democrats

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican-sponsored transportation legislation that would radically change funding for public transit advanced in the House of Representatives on Friday, leaving Democrats, city leaders and transit groups concerned that commuter systems could be imperiled.

The plan, approved by the House Ways and Means Committee, would make a one-time $40 billion deposit into the trust fund for mass transit and end its traditional source of revenue from gasoline taxes, which also support a trust fund for highway construction.

Jan 26, 2012

State pension assets, earnings grew in 2010

By Lisa Lambert

(Reuters) – Bucking criticism about their financial performance, state retirement systems’ assets grew in 2010, with investment earnings rising for the first time since 2007, the U.S. Census reported on Thursday.

The pension funds’ cash and investments totaled $2.2 trillion in 2010, up 10.7 percent, or $213.9 billion, from 2009, when their cash and investment holdings fell by $610.8 billion.

Jan 25, 2012

Obama aims to use war savings on infrastructure

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama proposed plowing half the money America will save from the end of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into high-speed rail lines and repairs to the nation’s creaking roads and infrastructure.

The plan likely will face an uphill battle in Congress where Republicans frequently point to high-speed rail projects as a waste of money at a time of tight budgets.

Jan 20, 2012

Cities look abroad for economic hope

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Whipped by the recession and financial crisis, U.S. cities are looking far beyond their borders to grow their local economies.

At a meeting this week in the U.S. capital, mayors from across the country have focused intently on the promise of exports for generating jobs and economic activity.

Jan 19, 2012

Public employees hit back in pension fight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Public employees in the United States are striking back at what they see as attacks on their pensions.

Recently, U.S. states have begun making changes both small and large to the benefits they pay retirees in the hopes of closing a shortfall totaling at least $600 billion.