Public Financial Leadership in the New Fiscal Reality

Course Number: 
GAFL 515


  • Spring 2018
Course Format: 
On-Campus Day(s): 
On-Campus Time: 
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.

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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