July 31 (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission said in a report on Tuesday it would seek legislation
to improve disclosure in the $3.7 trillion U.S. municipal bond
market, which has largely escaped the same level of regulation
as other U.S. capital markets.
The SEC’s report, which was two years in the making, focuses
on improving disclosures by states, cities and other debt
issuers and on increasing investor protection.
By Lisa Lambert
(Reuters) – Cities will be leading contributors to U.S. economic expansion over the next year, and much of their growth will depend on energy and manufacturing, according to a study released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Thursday.
“The timing and pace of recovery will be varied across the states and metropolitan areas,” the study, conducted by independent firm IHS Global Insight, found. “Metro areas that didn’t suffer and those whose economies are rooted in quickly growing or rebounding industries will likely recover before those with greater exposure to the acute economic turmoil.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – States’ current spending, taxation and budget practices cannot be sustained, and the public must take action to change fiscal problems that go well beyond the 2007-09 economic recession, an independent bipartisan committee said on Tuesday.
“It’s very difficult to get people interested in the problem and to do something about it,” said former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker at a news conference, joking that the best result of the committee’s work would be that the “citizenry arises” to demand change. “A lot has been going on in various state budgets, not much of it good.”
WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia, July 15 (Reuters) – Pennsylvania is
joining a growing movement across U.S. states to overhaul public
pensions, but even while the state’s governor says the need for
reform is urgent, he advocates action only after great
Pennsylvania, like so many other U.S. states, is facing a
yawning gap in its public pension fund, and Governor Tom Corbett
acknowledges that finding ways to close that gap won’t be easy.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.