GFOA is always on the lookout for news items that will be useful for finance professionals, research that might help you do your job better, and legal and regulatory updates you need to know about. Check the GFOA news page for the updates and any relevant GFOA announcements, and see the GFOA Newsletter archive for back issues of our weekly electronic newsletter.
The House Judiciary approved the GFOA-opposed Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, H.R. 3086, which would permanently preempt state and local governments authority to assess taxes on Internet access and pave the way for other industries to argue that they too deserve special protections from state and local taxation.
"The GFOA Award Program for Small Government Cash Basis Reports is happy to announce a first-time winner of the award - the City of Junction City, Oregon. Receiving this award demonstrates the exceptional dedication that the City of Junction City has to transparency, accountability, and financial reporting on a modified cash basis. All staff involved in attaining this distinction for the city should be commended for their accomplishment.
The GFOA joined with 10 other national associations representing state and local governments and retirement systems on a letter to Securities and Exchange Commissioner Daniel Gallagher to express serious concern over remarks he made to regulators criticizing state and local governments pension disclosures and commitment to transparency.
On behalf of local governments across the nation, our organizations want to express our opposition to H.R. 3086, the "Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA)." Instead, as the expiration date for the current moratorium on taxing Internet access approaches, and Congress considers changes to ITFA, our organizations recommend a shorter-term extension of ITFA, as a sensible solution that respects state and local taxing authority. In addition, any extension must maintain both the long-standing grandfather provisions that preserve existing state and local revenues, as well as certain general business taxes that were not intended to be part of the moratorium.
The GFOA joined with other national associations representing local governments on a letter to the House of Representatives strongly opposing HR 3086, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, and urging members to do the same. The letter maintains that the bill would cost states and localities millions of dollars in revenue in the coming years, as more services that are subject to traditional taxation transition to the Internet.
Applications to become a GFOA standing committee member are being accepted through July 18. GFOA's seven standing committees meet twice each year and develop best practices, advisories and policy statements for the approval of the Executive Board and membership
On March 10, 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commissions Enforcement Division (the SEC) announced the Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation (MCDC) Initiative to provide issuers and underwriters the opportunity to self-report instances of material misstatements in bond offering documents regarding the issuers prior compliance with its continuing disclosure obligations. The deadline for self-reporting under the MCDC Initiative is September 10, 2014
States tax collections saw robust growth in the first half of 2013 but significant softening in the second half. Preliminary figures for the first quarter of 2014 indicate even slower growth of tax revenues, according to the latest State Revenue Report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government.
The 2008 financial crisis prompted many state and local governments to make changes to their defined benefit pensions, most often raising employee and employer contributions and reducing benefits for new employees.
A pension plans actuarial assumption is an assumption the plan makes, based on demographic and economic information, about the investment return the plan is likely to make over future years. Public-sector pension fund investment return assumptions have been the focus of growing attention in recent years, with critics saying the current low interest rates and volatile investment markets require pension funds to take on too much investment risk to achieve their assumed rate of return.
Below are links to view the GFOA President's Address and the GFOA Incoming President's Address at the 2014 Annual Conference in Minneapolis.
A recent IRS ruling will likely discourage employers that had planned to end their health-care obligations by sending employees to the exchanges.
Online civic engagement tools can increase public trust in their governments, but only if they avoid common crowd-sourcing problems such as outsider influence when individuals from outside of the jurisdiction try to overly influence the forum. The Alliance for Innovation suggests best practices that can help with this issue.
A new paper from the University of Michigan suggests that the state could solve its road funding problems by being one of the first states in the nation to move to a system where motorists pay a fee based on the number of miles they drive. Mileage fees aim to allocate transportation infrastructure costs based on the number of miles driven, the time of day, the route taken, and the weight of the vehicle, rather than increasing fuel taxes.
The GFOA will join with other local government associations on a brief prepared by the State and Local Legal Center in a matter related to the interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In the case of Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, the Supreme Court will decide whether to uphold a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that hourly employees must be paid for time spent in security screenings under the FLSA.
The House of Representatives is considering a permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (H.R. 3086), with action likely to be taken on the bill in the next few weeks. The GFOA strongly opposes this measure because it would cost states and localities millions of dollars in revenue in the coming years, as more services that are subject to traditional taxation move to the Internet.
The Center for State and Local Government Excellence 2014 report of state and local government pension funding finds that many plans are still recovering from the effects of the economic downturn.
The recent Capital Budgeting in the States Report from the National Association of State Budget Officers provides state-by-state comparisons on the ways budget officers develop and implement capital spending plans, including how states make decisions to invest in new facilities or maintain old ones; ways states distinguish infrastructure spending from day to day operating expenses; criteria for project financing strategies and options for funding infrastructure; and efforts to mitigate fis
Resilient Communities, Efficient Governments, a recent report from Hyland and GovLoop, presents techniques for preparing organizations for significant, disruptive events using tools that are designed to improve service delivery and cost-effectiveness every other day of the year. In this way, planning and preparation becomes less about disaster recovery and more about delivering better services to the community, no matter the conditions.
Assessing the Affordability of State Debt, a working paper from the New England Public Policy Center at the Boston Federal Reserve, challenges the common perception that state and local governments deliberately decreased public pension fund contributions as a backdoor way to run deficits from 2001 to 2010, and finds that public pension sponsors actually increased contributions during that time.
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board issued for public comment a proposed statement addressing accounting and financial reporting issues related to fair value measurements. The Exposure Draft, Fair Value Measurement and Application, describes how fair value should be defined and measured, what assets and liabilities should be measured at fair value, and what information about fair value should be disclosed in the notes to the financial statements. Stakeholders are encouraged to review the proposals and provide comments by August 15, 2014.
Robert W. Eichem, Chief Financial Officer, City of Boulder, Colorado, became GFOAs new president at the associations annual business meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 20, 2014.
Also at the business meeting, the associations members elected a new GFOA president-elect and five new members-at-large, who will each serve a three-year term beginning immediately.
In early May, President Obama signed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (Public Law No. 113-101), which amends the eight-year-old Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act to make federal agency spending data "with more specificity and at a deeper level than is currently reported" available to the public, according to the administration.