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

Black and white Rideshare Pick-Up Zone sign

The Slow Death of Ride Sharing

From the beginning, TNCs like Lyft and Uber touted shared rides as their key product. Now, Lyft is ending the practice.

June 1, 2023 - Human Transit

Urban sidewalk shaded by large mature trees

Cool Walkability Planning

Shadeways (covered sidewalks) and pedways (enclosed, climate controlled walkways) can provide comfortable walkability in hot climates. The Cool Walkshed Index can help plan these facilities.

June 1, 2023 - Todd Litman

Traffic on the 405 interstate freeway through the Sepulveda Pass at Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California

Congestion Pricing Could Be Coming to L.A.

The infamously car-centric city is weighing a proposed congestion pricing pilot program to reduce traffic and encourage public transit use.

May 30, 2023 - Los Angeles Times

Two blue and white tents on a paved bike trail under an overpass in San Diego, California with palm tree and vegetation on one side

How San Diego Camping Ban Could Impact Neighborhoods

An ordinance supported by the city’s mayor would bar people from sleeping on the street near shelters or services, but critics say it will simply push people to other neighborhoods and put them farther away from the supportive services they need.

June 8 - Voice of San Diego

Small white one-story building with Maggie Hathaway Golf Course sign with American flag on flagpole and green lawn

Expanding Access to Golf in South Los Angeles

L.A. County’s Maggie Hathaway Golf Course getting up to $15 Million from U.S. Open Community Legacy Project to expand access to the sport in South L.A.

June 8 - Los Angeles Times

Wood-frame two-story housing under construction

Opinion: Failed Housing Bills Could Signal California-Style Housing Crisis in Texas

Legislators in a state that so often touts its policies as the opposite of California’s defeated several bills that would have made housing construction easier, leading to concerns that a constricted housing market may exacerbate the housing crisis.

June 8 - The Dallas Morning News

Principal Planner – Advanced Plans

Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Department

Planning Officer

City of Bangor

Planning Director

Park City Municipal Corporation

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.