Academics

Public Financial Leadership in the New Fiscal Reality

Course Number: GAFL 515
Several factors are intersecting upon U.S. local governments including: muted economic growth, demographics, technological change, ineffective monetary & fiscal policy, and political shenanigans. These are having a profound impact on local government financial health. Many local governments are struggling to structurally balance their budgets, even now several years into one of the longest U.S. post-WWII economic recoveries. Expenditure demand, especially because of rising employee pension and OPEB benefits, is rising faster than expected. Revenues are not rising as quickly as they have historically. This New Fiscal Reality is redefining the concept of municipal distress. Further, the options local governments have to respond to distress may be changing. It might be necessary for local governments to move away from typical solutions like distressed municipality programs and other state level aid. If the current financial trajectory continues, some local governments will not be able to deliver the same service-level they have in the past. New solutions are required. This class will 1) define the New Fiscal Reality; 2) review essential public finance concepts and relationships; 3) study past and recent examples of financial distress and prescribed solutions; 4) survey the current local government financial landscape; and 5) identify solutions public finance leaders can institute for the future. Several local government finance, political and policy experts will speak during the semester. A heavy amount of student engagement is expected to be completed in the form of research, group work, writing, and the critiquing of other students/ work.

Semesters Offered

Instructor: Tom Kozlik
Course Section: 001
On-Campus Day(s): Tuesday
On-Campus Time: 6:00pm-9:00pm
Course Description:

Several issues including muted economic growth, demographics, technological change, ineffective monetary & fiscal policy, and political shenanigans are currently intersecting upon U.S. local governments. Due to these issues, many local governments are struggling to structurally balance their budgets several years into one of the longest post-WWII economic recoveries in U.S. history. Increased expenditure demand from pensions and OPEB benefits, paired with slow revenue growth, are redefining the term municipal distress. Further, the options local governments have to respond to distress may be changing. To avoid a drop in services from their current standard, it might be necessary for local governments to move away from typical solutions like distressed municipality programs and other state level aid. This class will 1) define the New Fiscal Reality; 2) review essential public finance concepts and relationships; 3) study past and recent examples of financial distress and prescribed solutions; 4) survey the current local government financial landscape; and 5) identify solutions public finance leaders can institute for the future. Several local government finance, political and policy experts will speak during the semester. A heavy amount of student engagement is expected to be completed in the form of research, group work, writing, and the critiquing of other students’ work.

Instructor: Tom Kozlik
Course Section: 001
Day(s): Tuesday
Time: 6:00pm-9:00pm
Course Location: On-Campus

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Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829

felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu