EP 658 How Healthy Are State and Local Government Finances?


Faced with mounting Medicaid costs, powerful public employee unions and often underfunded pension and medical obligations, state and local governments can present fiscal dilemmas that, at times and as a last resort, the federal government gets dragged into.  It is hard to overstate the importance of making certain that the 50 states and Puerto Rico and thousands of local municipalities have the resources they need to operate since they provide the most essential, visible, government services important to all of us–teaching our children, building and maintaining most infrastructure, public health and public safety.  And yet with the din of our obsession with national news, we do not see substantial reporting on their fiscal health.  And as David Schleicher, a Yale Law School professor and expert in this field reminds us, in his book “In a Bad State: Responding to State and Local Budget Crises”, while we have a moment in time when many state governments are awash in federal pandemic dollars, it is a good time to take a true assessment of the health of state and local governments to perform their vital tasks.