Category Archives: State & Local Finance

An Empirical Analysis of State and Local Public Pension Plan Funded Ratio Change, 2001-2009

Source: Qiushi Wang, Jun Peng, The American Review of Public Administration, Published online before print July 24, 2014

From the abstract:
Between 2001 and 2009, all public pension plans suffered losses and saw a drop in their funded ratios. However, some plans saw a much smaller decline than others. In this study, we explore why the ratios fared so differently during this tumultuous period for pension plans. By examining the changes in funded ratio for 84 large public pension plans, we find that the differences can be mostly attributed to variations in annualized investment return and changes in investment return assumption, and to a lesser extent, to the required contributions paid by employers, the contribution rates of employees, and cost-of-living adjustment provisions. The results suggest that pension plans seeking to improve their funded ratios may need to revise their investment strategies, pay a higher percentage of their required contribution, require employees to pay more toward their pension benefit, and limit the use of automatic or consumer price index–linked cost-of-living adjustments.

Quarterly Summary of State and Local Government Tax Revenue for 2014: Q1

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, G14-QTAX1, June 24, 2014

The Quarterly Summary of State and Local Government Tax Revenue provides quarterly estimates of state and local government tax revenue at a national level, as well as detailed tax revenue data for individual states. This quarterly survey has been conducted continuously since 1962. The information contained in this survey is the most current information available on a nationwide basis for government tax collections. First quarter 2014 tax revenues for four selected state and local government tax categories increased 2.4 percent to $295.7 billion from $288.7 billion in the same quarter of 2013.

Quarterly Survey of Public Pensions for 2014: 1st Quarter

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, June 26, 2014

This quarterly survey provides national summary statistics on the revenues, expenditures and composition of assets of the 100 largest state and local public employee retirement systems in the United States. These 100 systems comprise 89.4 percent of financial activity among such entities, based on the 2007 Census of Governments. This survey presents the most current statistics about investment decisions by state and local public employee retirement systems, which are among the largest types of institutional investors in the U.S. financial markets. These statistical tables are published three months after each calendar quarter and show national financial transactions and trends for the past five years.

For the 100 largest public-employee pension systems in the country, cash and security holdings totaled
$3,218.2 billion in the first quarter of 2014, reaching the highest level since the survey began collecting data in 1968. Cash and security holdings had a quarter-to-quarter increase of 0.5 percent, from $3,200.8 billion last quarter, and a year-to-year increase of 9.4 percent, from $2,941.2 billion in the first quarter of 2013. (Refer to Figure 1.) Earnings on investments totaled $73.2 billion in the first quarter of 2014….
Cash and Security Holdings of Major Public Employee Retirement Systems
Earnings on Investments, Contributions, and Payments of Major Public Employee Retirement Systems
Percent Distribution of the Cash and Security Holdings of Major Public Employee Retirement Systems
Time Series/Trend Charts

2013 State Preschool Yearbook

Source: W. Steven Barnett, Megan E. Carolan, James H. Squires, Kristy Clarke Brown, National Institute for Early Education Research, 2013

From the summary:
The 2013 State Preschool Yearbook is the newest edition of our annual report profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States. This latest Yearbook presents data on state-funded prekindergarten during the 2012-2013 school year as well as documenting a decade of progress since the first Yearbook collected data on the 2001-2002 school year. Tracking trends long term is key to understanding the progress of early childhood education across the country and improving educational opportunities for America’s children. For the first time, the Yearbook also provides narrative information on early childhood education efforts in the 10 states and the U.S. territories which do not provide state-funded pre-K.

Twenty-eight percent of America’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in a state-funded preschool program in the 2012-2013 school year, the same percentage as the year before. The actual number of children enrolled decreased, including 9,000 fewer 4-year-olds served in these programs. The findings in this Yearbook raise serious concerns on the quality and availability of pre-K education for most of American young learners.

The 2013 Yearbook is organized into three major sections. The first section offers a summary of the data and describes national trends for enrollment in, quality of, and spending on state-funded preschool. The second section presents detailed profiles outlining each state’s policies with respect to preschool access, quality standards, and resources for the 2012-2013 program year. In addition to providing basic program descriptions, these state profiles describe unique features of a state’s program and recent changes that can be expected to alter the future Yearbook information on a program. Profile pages are also included for states without state-funded programs. A description of our methodology follows the state profiles, and the last section of the report contains appendices. The appendices include tables that provide the complete 2012-2013 survey data obtained from every state, as well as Head Start, child care, U.S. Census, and special education data.
Executive Summary
Table of Contents
State Data

Pensionomics 2014: Measuring the Economic Impact of DB Pension Expenditures

Source: Nari Rhee, National Institute on Retirement Security, July 2014

From the summary:
A new national economic impact study finds that DB pension benefits have a significant economic impact: 6.2 million American jobs and $943 billion in economic output. The analysis finds that the benefits provided by state and local government pension plans have a sizable impact that ripples through every state and industry across the nation.

Pensionomics 2014: Measuring the Economic Impact of DB Pension Expenditures finds that expenditures made from public, private, and federal government pension benefits in 2012:
∙ Had a total economic impact of more than $943 billion.
∙ Supported 6.2 million American jobs that paid nearly $307 billion in labor income to American workers.
∙ Supported more than $135 billion in federal, state, local tax revenue.
∙ Had large multiplier effects. For every dollar paid out in pension benefits, $1.98 in total economic output was supported. For every taxpayer dollar contributed to state and local pensions $8.06 in total output was supported.
∙ Had the largest employment impact on the food services, real estate, health care, and retail trade sectors.
∙ Paid nearly $477 billion in pension benefits to 24 million retired Americans and beneficiaries.
The report also analyzes the economic impact of state and local pensions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Click through the image below to see state-by-state data.
Press release
State Fact Sheets/Map

Organizational Failure and the Disbanding of Local Police Agencies

Source: William R. King, Crime & Delinquency, Vol. 60 no. 5, August 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Police organizations are a ubiquitous aspect of the landscape of criminal justice in the United States. Yet, little attention has been paid to the failure of police agencies and the consequences of such failure. This article uses structural contingency theory and organizational institutional theory to explore why 31 police agencies were disbanded during the 1990s. The findings indicate that agencies disband because they face significant environmental changes in their contingency and institutional environments. Contingency reasons for disbanding are mostly related to budgetary constraints. Institutional reasons usually involve agencies that engage in behaviors that violate the expectations of powerful sovereigns. Overall, police agencies disband because they cannot adapt to changes in their contingency and institutional environments or they change in inappropriate ways, and their small organizational size does not provide a sufficient buffer against external intrusion from the institutional environment, which results in disbanding.

Justice Expenditure and Employment Extracts, 2010 – Final

Source: Tracey Kyckelhahn, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 247019, July 1, 2014

Presents data from the Census Bureau’s Annual Government Finance Survey and Annual Survey of Public Employment. This series includes national, federal, and state-level estimates of government expenditures and employment for the following justice categories: police protection, all judicial and legal functions (including prosecution, courts, and public defense), and corrections. Data for large local governments (counties with populations of 500,000 or more and cities with populations of 300,000 or more) are also included.
Comma-delimited format (CSV)
Historical Overview
Definitions of Terms and Concepts
Comparability issues

Justice Expenditure and Employment Extracts, 2009 – Final

Source: Tracey Kyckelhahn, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 247018, July 1, 2014

State Cuts to Jobless Benefits Did Not Help Workers or Taxpayers

Source: Josh Bivens, Joshua Smith, and Valerie Wilson, Economic Policy Institute, Briefing Paper #380, July 28, 2014

From the summary:
The first section of this brief provides an overview of the U.S. UI system, explaining the interaction between federal and state financing flows and detailing the workings of the federal Unemployment Trust Fund. The next section reviews the academic and research literature on the impact of UI benefits on the U.S. labor market. The last section looks at those states that decided to shorten the duration of jobless benefits, reviewing possible reasons why state policymakers made this decision, and examining the (admittedly thin) data record of pre- and post-duration changes to see if the shortened durations had measurable impact on state labor markets. Following are key findings of the brief:
∙ Most state accounts in the federal Unemployment Trust Fund became insolvent in the wake of the Great Recession. The accounts of only 15 states (Alaska, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming) plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, remained solvent.
∙ It was largely trust fund adequacy before the Great Recession—not significantly less-severe state-level recessions—that differentiated the states with solvent UTF accounts from other states: Fourteen of the 15 states that retained solvency in their UTF accounts ranked in the top half of states on a key measure of trust fund adequacy (a ratio of fund balance to future payouts) going into the Great Recession.
∙ The adequacy of state UTF accounts before the Great Recession was largely driven by whether the states collected enough revenue during the economic recovery and expansion between 2001 and 2007: State accounts that remained solvent following the Great Recession had not cut UI-dedicated state taxes (also known as State Unemployment Tax Acts or SUTA taxes) nearly as deeply as did other states during the 2001–2007 period.
∙ Failure to adequately fund state UTF accounts does not just lead to fiscal problems. It can weaken the function of UI as an automatic stabilizer and make the UI system as a whole less countercyclical than it should be by requiring tax hikes or benefit cuts during periods of depressed aggregate demand.
∙ Trust fund imbalances largely cannot explain why some states shortened UI durations while others did not. Only eight of the 35 states whose UTF accounts became insolvent following the Great Recession tried to address the situation by cutting the duration of their benefits. These states’ UTF accounts as a whole were not appreciably worse off than those of states that chose to either increase revenues by raising the SUTA tax rate or enlarging the tax base, or to simply wait for labor market improvements to shrink their UTF accounts’ debt burden naturally. What most of the eight states do share is a recent history of not supporting safety-net programs.
∙ Despite the widespread accounting distress in state UTF accounts following the Great Recession, the cuts that eight states made to the duration of unemployment benefits did very little to change their fiscal condition. Compared with a tax hike that would have achieved the same boost to the state UTF account’s balance, the savings per covered worker in the six of these eight states for which data are available ranged from $0.06 to $0.14 per week. In short, unemployed workers lost an average $252 per week of curtailed benefits just so states could save roughly nine cents per covered worker per week in SUTA taxes, holding trust fund account balances equal…..
Press Release