Mason Archival Repository Service

Reports from the GMU Municipal Sustainability Project, Center for State and Local Leadership

Reports from the GMU Municipal Sustainability Project, Center for State and Local Leadership

 

PROJECT OVERVIEW

With support from the MacArthur Foundation, a team from George Mason University’s Center on State and Local Leadership, led by Frank Shafroth, is in the midst of a multi-year study analyzing the fiscal challenges in the wake of the Great Recession. While considerable effort has been devoted to understanding macroeconomic trends, far less attention has been giving to understanding the recession’s impact at the municipal level. This project directly addresses this critical, and under-appreciated, dimension of fiscal crisis.

The study’s goal is twofold. The first objective is analyzing the complex nature of economic policy, outlining the evolving role of local governments in the federalist system. Building from these findings, the team is creating proactive policy prescriptions, aimed at assisting leaders struggling with similar financial challenges. The final report will provide an in-depth discussion of “best practices” and online resources to share with municipal and state leaders.

The project is structured around six struggling cities: Pittsburg, Providence, Detroit, San Bernardino, Chicago, and Baltimore. The case studies incorporated on-site interviews with local leaders, members of the community, and the media to understand the interaction of policy and economic and sociodemographic factors. Each of the selected cities faced financial challenges over the past decade, and their efforts have met with varying degrees of success. Critical to the study’s methodology, the cases fall into two broad categories: cities located in states with or without a formal intervention program. By contrasting states with systematic intervention programs against those without, the project highlights the numerous ways state governments can exacerbate or alleviate crises within their borders.

For more information on the MacArthur Foundation and their support of Policy Research, visit http://www.macfound.org/programs/policy_research.

Recent Submissions

  • Shafroth, Frank (Center for State and Local Government Leadership, George Mason University, 2012)
    In its recent report, the State Budget Crisis Task Force noted one theme arising out of the Great Recession: fiscal stress runs downhill. Local governments are confronting the greatest fiscal challenges in at least a ...
  • Shafroth, Frank (Center for State and Local Government Leadership, George Mason University, 2012-06-25)
    This toolkit is designed for any municipal jurisdiction. We recognize that many localities do not have the resources to prepare for financial crises, and the tendency is to avoid help until absolutely necessary (or forced). ...
  • Shafroth, Frank (Center for State and Local Government Leadership, George Mason University, 2013-09-01)
    Detroit filed for municipal bankruptcy protection on July 19, 2013. The city is in dire fiscal straits and now in a U.S, bankruptcy court for what the city’s emergency manager termed “the Olympics of restructuring.” The ...
  • Shafroth, Frank (Center for State and Local Government Leadership, George Mason University, 2013-09-01)
    Chicago, after a significant effort to remake itself into a global city today confronts unprecedented challenges. The city took a serious turn for the worse during the first decade of the new century. The gleaming towers, ...
  • Lawson, Michael; Shafroth, Frank (Center for State and Local Government Leadership, George Mason University, 2013-09-01)
    By most accounts, four key factors have contributed to San Bernardino’s fiscal situation: the charter, political culture, state actions (or inactions) and economic shocks. The last two factors caused have caused many cities ...
  • Emmans, Sarah (Center for State and Local Government Leadership, George Mason University, 2013-09-01)
    Facing decades of structural budget gaps and unsustainable legacy costs, the City of Pittsburgh entered two forms of state oversight in 2004. In the nearly ten years since, the city has turned structural deficits into ...
  • Emmans, Sarah (Center for State and Local Government Leadership, George Mason University, 2013-09-01)
    In March of 2011, just a few months after taking office, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras declared that the city was experiencing a “Category 5” fiscal hurricane. Less than a year later, he announced that the city was on ...
  • Lawson, Michael (Center for State and Local Government Leadership, George Mason University, 2013-09-30)
    Evidence suggests that a number of factors have contributed to Baltimore’s fiscal resiliency. These include the primary role that counties play in the structure of local government in Maryland, the state assumption of the ...