Last Friday the City Council of North Las Vegas, Nevada’s fourth largest city just north and east of Las Vegas, voted unanimously to suspend part of its union agreement in order to balance its budget. With property tax and general tax revenues down by more than 30 percent in just the last three years, North Las Vegas was facing a shortfall of $30 million in its $500 million budget.

Under state law it must submit a balanced budget by June 1. Negotiations with three public employee unions, the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association (POA), the North Las Vegas Police Supervisors Association (PSA), and the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), began in January but the unions refused to make the concessions necessary to keep the city solvent.

The latest report from the nonpartisan Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College was brutal in its assessment of the status of state and local pension plans and their ability to keep their promises to their beneficiaries and retirees. With public pension funds underfunded by half, those states, cities and municipalities — and their taxpayers — would have to double their contributions to those plans just to have any chance of them avoiding default on their promises to those depending on them for their retirement.

A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, commissioned by Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), is questioning the federal government’s $18-billion job training program.

California Governor Jerry Brown is calling for higher taxes as lethargic economic growth has left his state in fiscal turmoil. Brown also mentioned that California would have to implement another $6 billion in spending cuts on public schools and higher education if voters reject his call to increase sales and income taxes. 

Two Wall Street economists, Daniel Gross and Gary Shlling, look at the same jobs numbers and come to opposite conclusions, hoping to sell lots of books.

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