MuniLand

Muni sweeps: Hack for change

By Cate Long
May 26, 2011


Hack for Change

Attention Muniland! Do you have an idea for a public web or mobile application? Change.org is sponsoring a Hack for Change on June 18th and 19th and is soliciting ideas for their programming competition. Here are some of the ideas that have already been posted:

  • A reviews site that allows citizens to rate and evaluate city government services and departments
  • A site that makes government data more accessible and actionable
  • An app that lists all San Francisco city legislation and allows residents to vote on it
  • An app that notifies police of suspicious activity

Submit your idea today!

Muni Web 2.0 stars

Government Technology reports on the winners of a wonderful competition to create the best municipal Web 2.0 and social media technologies:

Santa Monica, Calif., was spotlighted for its XML feed that makes real-time parking information available to the public, including the number of parking spaces available in the city. The information is displayed on a city webpage with the number of spaces being updated every 60 seconds.

Arvada, Colo., received the award for its virtual city hall. Called “ASK Arvada,” the tool is designed to increase customer service by providing access to answers and the ability to request service with every department in the city. Requests can be sent through various mediums, including the Web, Twitter and smartphones.

Revenues up

The Wall Street Journal reports that in the first quarter state tax revenue rose 9.1%:

State tax collections grew at an accelerating pace in the first three months of the year, with a number of states seeing the upswing continue into the second quarter.

Tax revenue grew 9.1% in the first quarter for 47 states that have reported collections, the fifth straight quarter of growth and the fastest rate in five years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.

Hedgies and “crossover buyers” propped up muniland

From the Bond Buyer:

Around February, investors noticed how spreads between the taxable and tax-exempt markets narrowed, said John Mousseau, a portfolio manager who runs the muni desk at Cumberland Advisors. While yields firmed on the taxable side, they eased for tax-exempts, he said, creating an appetite for tax-exempts among a lot of traditionally taxable buyers.

“Accounts that had been long-term investors, who’d been through a number of interest rate cycles, could see that this was clearly a liquidity-driven and not a credit-driven event,” Mousseau added.

Portfolio managers also noticed new buyers throughout the period of liquidations. Hedge funds and, more noticeably, taxable corporate funds and other crossover buyers entered the market as nontraditional muni investors around January and February, when the rates were very cheap. Tax-exempt muni yields were higher at the time of trading than taxable yields for similarly rated paper.

“So, if you’re a taxable manager,” Pynchon said, “why would you continue to buy corporate debt at greater prices than you could buy the same security in municipal debt?”

Vermont begins push for “single-payer” health care

From Bloomberg:

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin kicks off a drive today to create a publicly financed health-care system for all residents in the second-smallest U.S. state by population, building off of the 2010 national health overhaul.

Check out the legislation (H. 202) that authorizes the establishment of the new system.

Mini sweeps

Reuters: No need for swaps rule postponement -U.S. Sen Reed

Reuters: Outlook “mixed” for public pension funds: study

Center for Retirement Research: The Funding of State and Local Pensions in 2010

Reuters: Americans want to “keep Medicaid as it is”: survey

OK Policy Blog: ‘Flip It To Fix It’ report offers an immediate, fair solution to state budget shortfalls

Dodd-Frank.com: MSRB Requests Comment on Supervisory Rule for Municipal Advisors

Reuters: FACTBOX-Municipal bond issuers with widest credit spreads

Bond Buyer: Billion-Dollar Deal for One World Trade Center

Rand corporation: California School Districts Reduce Popular Programs to Help Balance Budgets

San Diego County Grand Jury Report: “Foul Ball”

Washington Business Journal: D.C. budget passes with combined reporting, muni bond tax

Financial Post: Business Wire and The Bond Buyer to Bring Greater Transparency to the Municipal Bond Market with Best Practices Disclosure Solution

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