MuniLand

No allowance if you don’t do your homework

By Cate Long
June 22, 2011

Photo: California State Controller John Chiang

No allowance if you don’t do your homework

California’s Legislature rushed through a budget last week that they thought was balanced. The State Comptroller has ruled otherwise, and now he is withholding lawmakers’ salaries, the New York Times reports today:

California lawmakers will lose at least a week’s pay and living expenses because the state budget they passed last week was not balanced, the state controller said Tuesday.

When the Legislature approved the budget, several lawmakers praised themselves for passing it on time for only the second time in two decades. And they assumed that meeting the deadline would allow them to collect their full paychecks.

[...]

The state controller, John Chiang, had been reviewing the budget for the last several days, using his authority under the new law to determine whether the budget was balanced.

“My office’s careful review of the recently passed budget found components that were miscalculated, miscounted or unfinished,” Mr. Chiang said in a statement. “The numbers simply did not add up, and the Legislature will forfeit their pay until a balanced budget is sent to the governor.”

Debt per capita of $1,103

Good reporting from Bloomberg on Georgia’s $1 billion offering this week:

About $440 million of the offering will refund bonds to get lower yields, McElhannon said.

“We’re hoping we get wonderful rates,” he said. “We’re hopeful. We’ve been real fortunate the last couple of sales. ”

Georgia will have $8.8 billion in outstanding borrowing as of July 1, according to its preliminary offering statement.

The state has a ‘‘moderate” debt burden, Moody’s Investors Service said in June 17 report. Debt per capita of $1,103 ranked 24th among the 50 states, the report said.

Fitch Ratings in a June 16 release cited the state’s “rapid” amortization of principal, with 69 percent due in 10 years.

Time to pull the trigger

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has been one of those bankruptcies waiting in the wings, and now it looks to be about time to file the paperwork. From Bloomberg:

The City Council voted 4-3 yesterday to approve Councilman Brad Koplinski’s recommendation that the city draw up papers. Harrisburg must protect its interests as it faces lawsuits and state legislation that would remove power from elected officials should they fail to implement a fiscal recovery plan, he argued. His measure doesn’t authorize an actual filing.

The council’s meeting also included testimony from the consultants who drafted the recovery plan under Pennsylvania’s distressed cities program, called Act 47. The proposal calls for the sale of municipal assets, dismissals and changing workers’ contracts…

…The city of 49,500 faces a debt burden five times its general-fund budget because of an overhaul and expansion of a trash-to-energy incinerator, which doesn’t generate enough revenue to cover the obligations. Harrisburg needs $310 million to make bond payments, restructure debt and repay Dauphin County and insurer Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp., which covered payments the city skipped, according to the Act 47 consultants led by Julia Novak, president of Cincinnati’s Novak Consulting Group.

Weaving the community web

Tiny steps for social change, via GovTech:

A community-based app that makes household chores easier took first place Sunday, June 19, in the first-ever “Hack for Change” contest, held in San Francisco.

The Good Neighbor app, created by San Francisco natives Brent Fitzgerald and Huned Botee, sends messages when neighbors need a hand with quick tasks or errands like changing a light bulb or taking out the trash — chores that can be difficult for the elderly or disabled people.

Congrats to Brent Fitzgerald and Huned Botee!

Muniland’s most interesting links:

Reuters: Government layoffs slow U.S. cities’ recoveries-report

Bond Buyer: Looking Down the Credit Curve

Banking Business Review: Nuveen launches new inflation protected municipal bond fund

Bloomberg: Fidelity Starts First Municipal-Bond Funds With Fixed End Dates

Birmingham News: Letters from sewer receiver to Jefferson County commissioners demanding JPMorgan settlement money

FastCode Design: Flint, Michigan, Re-imagines Itself In An Architecture Competition

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