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December 8, 2011
The U.S. state and local government sector undoubtedly faced significant short-run challenges brought about by the 2007-2009 recession which are likely to partly persist over the next few fiscal years. Yet, warnings of state bankruptcies and mass defaults at the local level are unduly exaggerated. All in all, a satisfactory assessment requires the separation of cyclical revenue problems from looming long-term challenges in pensions and healthcare. Although they do not pose an imminent threat yet, state and local pension funds and retiree healthcare commitments are in dire need of reform in order to keep them affordable. Moreover, to improve their finances, subnational jurisdictions need to correct the structural flaws in their revenue systems and budget processes and increase the effectiveness of spending to curtail the unsustainable ballooning of costs. [more]
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