The case of the disappearing revenues

New census figures make it clear — 2009 was not a good year for state and local governments.

Municipal governments saw their total revenues plummet by more than 20% in 2009, down 587.5 billion from 2008’s take of $2.1 trillion, according to the Census Bureau’s 2009 Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances.

Much of the drop came from dwindling tax revenues, except for property taxes, which actually saw a slight uptick from 2008, according to the survey.

Unemployment compensation increased by a whopping 86% from $35.6 billion in 2008 to $66.2 billion in 2009.

These figures are likely not a revelation to anyone following the plight of municipal finances, but the survey did reveal some interesting results.

  • Even as state and local governments slashed budgets left and right in 2009, spending sill increased on the whole by 4.6%, totaling nearly $3 trillion.
  • Revenues from the federal government also increased by 12.3%, although that can likely be explained by the massive influx of federal stimulus cash.
  • As revenues fell, local governments took on an additional $131 billion in debt obligations.

To learn more from the report, you can view it here.

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