Is there any substance behind Obama’s infrastructure proposal?

February 20, 2013

In his State of the Union address, President Obama sketched a broad outline of the need to rebuild 70,000 “structurally deficient” bridges and other infrastructure in the country, but never got more specific. In a follow up, the White House announced the specifics of his infrastructure proposal.

Moody’s provides criteria for U.S. Triple-A rating

February 19, 2013

The credit rating agency Moody’s is in a very delicate position. Its arch rival, Standard & Poor’s, was recently charged by the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that S&P committed mail and wire fraud by defrauding investors with faulty ratings. Moody’s was not charged, but there are a lot of questions about why it was left out of the investigation. At the same time, Moody’s is responsible for judging the creditworthiness of the U.S. government’s debt. There is little wonder that the rating agency is being very transparent in the benchmarks it is using.

Wal-Mart’s sales and the slowing economy

February 15, 2013

The rule of law prevails for the Pennsylvania lottery

February 14, 2013

In the media appearance above, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announces that the contract drawn up by Governor Tom Corbett to privatize the state’s lottery management “contravenes the Pennsylvania Constitution and is not statutory authorized.” Translation: Pop- Bam- Take that, governor – You don’t have the power that you think you have.

Pre-K would be an economic winner for America

February 14, 2013

An increase in the minimum wage and universal pre-kindergarten education were part of the centerpiece of Barack Obama’s State of the Union address this week. These proposals address both income inequality and low academic achievement. Expanding pre-k education would benefit all states that would be willing to participate. According to the Council of State Governments:

Infrastructure must be part of the agenda

February 13, 2013

The need for more infrastructure must be brought back to center stage. Creating middle-class jobs “must be the North Star that guides our efforts,” President Obama said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. More improved bridges, tunnels, ports and other shared infrastructure would be a great way to boost the economy, create jobs and improve the hard assets that support business and public activities.

Muniland: 2012 by the numbers

February 11, 2013

In 2012, municipal debt issuance totaled $367 billion, just shy of the 10-year average ($381 billion) and a level last seen in 2003 ($378.5 billion). The blue line in the graph above shows that about 65 percent of this debt was issued to refund previously-issued debt (to get a better interest rate or other term). The balance, about 35 percent, was “new money” debt issuance to fund projects that previously had not been funded. The market sees a slight increase in issuance for 2013. According to SIFMA’s 2013 Municipal Issuance Survey, volumes are expected to be $393 billion.

Why municipal pension systems may be a very good idea

February 9, 2013

Muniland ground rule number one: Never use the state of Rhode Island as example of national issues. The state has been poorly managed and dominated by union interests for decades. Rhode Island is a high school dropout when it comes to fiscal management. The underfunding of its public pensions is exhibit one.

Texas takes the lead on public pension transparency

February 8, 2013

Texas explains how Texas is mounting the transparency pony:

A quartet of the most powerful legislators in Texas filed bills Thursday to make available to the public detailed financial information from most local taxing entities and pension systems across the state.

Grading government efficiency the Australian way

February 7, 2013

Congress and President Obama are at it again, fighting over taxes and spending cuts. It seems like a bad television show – the same story keeps getting repeated without any hope of a proper ending. In essence, there is too much spending and not enough revenue. The amount of spending currently in dispute is about $80 billion. It is this $80 billion, which needs to be reduced, that is the centerpiece of Washington’s fighting.