Author Archives: Melanie

How Obama’s budget proposal could affect the construction of parks and libraries

Government is a bit like physics. In high school physics you are taught that for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction. This is also often the case in government. Take, for example, President Obama’s budget proposal … Continue reading

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Should cities rely on “rainy-day” funds to balance their books?

New York City social service advocates last fall decried roughly $1 billion in spending cuts that would shut down fire stations, nix city-sponsored child care for low income families and slash library spending. And with yet another multi-billion budget deficit … Continue reading

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Cities aren’t the only ones facing major pension costs

While my focus here on Budget Crunch is public agencies’ financial woes, I thought that to be fair I provide a bit of context that I have recently gained while covering corporate business news at Business Insider. Since I started … Continue reading

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A tale of two cities: How Jersey City is getting in its own way

By Melanie Hicken After years of planning, longtime Jersey City chef Nicole Puzio saw her dream of opening her own restaurant quickly turn into a nightmare. Puzio and her business partner Edward Radich thought they had dotted there i’s and … Continue reading

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Another factor behind ballooning state pension bills

In Illinois, highway maintenance workers can retire at age 50 and receive $75,000 a year for life. In Florida, a crime lab employee with 25 years on the state payrolls can retire at age 50 and take home $60,000 a … Continue reading

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Attempted California tax hike: take two

Call it a case of déjà vu. Two years ago, then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger asked voters to approve a temporary tax increase to help fill the state’s massive budget deficit. I had just started working as a City Hall reporter … Continue reading

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Boomtown no more: how to save a troubled Las Vegas economy

I love Las Vegas. The massive hotel pools. The glittering lights. The clink of slot machines. Hoards of people determined to gamble (and most likely lose) their hard-earned cash. Many people say that you either love it or hate it. … Continue reading

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