Surveying the Fiscal Nightmare for Cities and States

Governing takes a tour through the fiscal impacts of a suddenly cratered economy and an ongoing public health crisis.

2 minute read

June 3, 2020, 10:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Jordi Es / Shutterstock

Alan Greenblat provides ranging analysis of the "financial black hole" facing cities and states as a result of the pandemic. This assessment is defined by uncertainty. "State and local officials are well aware that they face the most dire fiscal circumstances in decades," writes Greenblat. "They still don't know just how bad it will be."

According to Greenblat, who writes at the end of May, about 1 million state and local jobs have been lost. "Public employment at those levels has already dropped lower than at any point during the Great Recession," according to Greenblat.

Despite the uncertainty of how far revenues will drop, and how deep cities and states will have to cut as a result, Greenblat does point out some key differences between the current downturn and previous downturns, namely that furloughs and layoffs have impacted public safety workers. Christiana McFarland, research director for the National League of Cities (NLC), is quoted in the article saying that job cuts for police, fire, and health care workers are a canary in the coal mine. 

The article includes specific information on the kinds of furloughs being implemented in parts of the country, while also explaining the politics of recovery at the federal level. Just as uncertain as the depths of the fiscal crisis is the likelihood that the federal government will provide additional funding to support local and state governments.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 in Governing

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