[The] State and Local Budget Crisis: Seminar (20292). 2 or 3 units. While the federal budget deficit has been falling for years, this decade has seen state and local government budgets face extreme amounts of stress. The most visible examples have been bankruptcies in jurisdictions like Detroit, Puerto Rico, Center Falls, RI and Stockton, CA. But many states and localities have made budget, pension, and health care promises that seem beyond their capacity to keep, and are further beset by gyrating revenue streams, increasing Medicaid costs, and federal budget cuts. The problems these jurisdictions face seem structural, not cyclical. The effect of these budget crises can be seen in crumbling infrastructure, reduced education spending, and in the way layoffs at the state and local level contributed substantially to the size and extent of unemployment following the Great Recession.
This seminar will review the role of law and lawyers in causing, and potentially solving, the state and local budget crisis. Doing so will involve analyzing everything from municipal bankruptcy to state constitutional law to federal tax deductions. It will be co-taught by Professor Schleicher and Richard Ravitch, whose career in government has spanned nearly fifty years, including playing a key role in the New York City fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s, and serving as Lieutenant Governor of New York and Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. He also co-chaired the State and Local Budget Crisis Task Force with Paul Volcker. There will also be a number of guest speakers to help sort through the complex and fascinating legal and policy problems posed by this on-going crisis. The course will be for two credits, but will have a 3-credit option for students who want to write extended papers. Paper required. Enrollment limited to eighteen. D.N. Schleicher and R. Ravitch.