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GFOA Newsletter
March 30, 2017
The Finance Officer’s Role in Collective Bargaining

Workforce costs represent more than two-thirds of the operating budget for many local governments, and many of these compensation costs are negotiated or collectively bargained with public employee unions. These negotiations have tremendous fiscal implications, but the finance office is not always involved. Finance officers can’t always be at the bargaining table, but there are a number of ways in which they should be participating. These include working with the negotiation team to develop a preparation schedule that is in compliance with legal requirements and addresses the timelines for achieving a timely settlement; working with other government team members to prioritize the bargaining issues and to understand and validate the costs and savings associated with each; communicating the financial pressures and advocating for longer-term fiscal stewardship issues; assessing the financial ramifications of any alternative settlement scenarios; evaluating potential renegotiation triggers; making peer comparisons; determining proposal costs and affordability; determining the effect on different employee units; fully evaluating retroactive proposals; considering one-time payments; and weighing the advantages of negotiated benefits. 

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Association News
Health-Care Reform Effort Experiences Significant Setback 

On March 24, 2017, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) cancelled the much-anticipated floor vote for the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The bill was part of the fast-tracked legislative process called budget reconciliation that Republican leadership and the Trump administration wanted to use as part of a multi-step effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, after Friday’s development, the legislation and the effort to repeal the ACA now face an uncertain future, and the consensus at this point is that health-care reform appears to be indefinitely on hold. Lawmakers and administration officials have indicated they intend to start focusing on other matters, which could include a transportation/infrastructure package or comprehensive tax reform.

The AHCA was introduced March 6 and endured weeks of intense lobbying and messaging from proponents and opponents alike. During the days leading up to the planned vote, the messaging intensified as members of various blocs within the Republican conference sought changes to the bill to win their support. Ultimately, 216 votes were needed in the House to advance the measure to the Senate. But as time for the vote neared, it became clear to House leadership they were short of that number, resulting in the cancelled vote. Some of the major changes contemplated that the AHCA could have made to the ACA were a substantial restructuring of the Medicaid program, replacing ACA subsidies and tax credits with new age-based tax credits, and the conversion of ACA mandates to potential penalties. Under the AHCA, the GFOA-opposed 40% excise tax on employer-sponsored health benefits (known as the Cadillac Tax) would have only been delayed a few additional years rather than outright repealed.


Register Now to Save on GFOA’s Annual Conference and Network with Almost 4,000 of Your Peers Already Registered!

Sign up by April 6 to take advantage of an advance discounted registration fee on GFOA’s 111th Annual Conference, May 21–24, in Denver, Colorado. Don’t miss an opportunity to explore topics of special interest with this year’s sessionsplus, more than 20 CPE credits are available with your participation!

The conference is an ideal event for making contacts, building new relationships, and cementing existing relationships. Whether this is your first visit to Denver or one of many trips, Denver is constantly evolving. Check out the “Best of Denver” here.

If you have any questions about the Annual Conference, contact GFOA. See you soon!

Apply for GFOA’s first-time annual conference attendee scholarship.
Please note that all 50 scholarships are committed for the States of California and Colorado.

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Learn How to Connect Resource Allocation and Student Achievement during GFOA’s Preconference Seminar

Connecting resource allocation and student achievement is the most essential aspect of planning and budgeting for school districts; however, it can also be challenging for most districts. If you’re a school district already participating or interested in participating in GFOA’s Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting (“Alliance”) program, sign up for GFOA’s preconference seminar, Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting, Friday, May 19, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at the Colorado Convention Center.

Participants will be able to collaboratively discuss and complete a number of exercises using information from their own districts. Districts involved in the first group of the Alliance will help facilitate the session, as well as share their own experiences and successes in implementing the Best Practices in School Budgeting. Topics will include evaluating choices between programmatic offerings, finding available resources to pay for new initiatives, and developing a strategic financial plan.

Register today for this preconference seminar and GFOA’s other preconference seminars. Earn 8 CPE credits with your participation.

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There’s Still Time to Sign Up for Courses on Accounting, Budgeting, Debt, and Technology at GFOA Training in Sacramento this Summer

Sign up for one or more of the following courses, August 21−25, at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento, California:

Save 10% on the registration fee when you sign up and pay in full by July 21. If you register with three or more colleagues for the same seminar, you will receive 10% off of each registration fee. (To receive the group discount, registrations must be received and paid together. This discount cannot be applied to online training registrations.)
Register today! (Registration form / Online)

A block of rooms has been reserved for GFOA attendees at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento. Based on availability, GFOA’s group rate is valid until August 7. Click here for more information about available rates.

For details about what to do while in Sacramento, go to Visit Sacramento. If you have any questions about GFOA’s training seminars, contact GFOA.

View GFOA’s training schedule for other upcoming
group-live courses through March 2018. Keep watch for webinars to be added.

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First-Time Distinguished Budget Award Recipients Announced

The following jurisdictions are first-time winners of GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award: City of American Canyon, California; City of Fillmore, California; City of Vallejo, California; Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency, California; Orange County, California; Hall County, Georgia; School District U-46, Illinois; City of Salina, Kansas; City of New Bedford, Massachusetts; St. Mary’s County, Maryland; Crowley Independent School District, Texas; and City of Bountiful, Utah.

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News Links
Tax Revenue Forecasts Are Lowered as States Enter Budget Negotiations

Based on recent tax revenue data, many forecasts could be revised downward further, creating uncertainty and potentially difficult choices for states, according to an analysis for state income and sales tax forecasts for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 from the Rockefeller Institute. In the face of uncertainties in the global economy, growing political risks in Europe, potential federal policy changes from the new administration, Federal Reserve Board actions, and changing demographics, many states have lowered their forecasts, expecting tax revenue to grow more slowly than they had projected in previous forecasts.

The report found:

  • The median state income tax forecast for fiscal 2017 was reduced from prior forecasts from 4% to 3.6%, and the median sales tax forecast for the same period has been adjusted downward from prior forecasts from 4.2% to 3.1%.
  • Median income tax growth for 2018 is expected to accelerate slightly to 4.1%, up from 3.6% in 2017. Median sales tax growth for the same period is expected to accelerate slightly as well, to 3.5 percent, up from anticipated growth of 3.1 percent in 2017.
  • Although these state forecasts generally call for faster growth in 2018 than in 2017, the forecasted increase is small and expected growth is slow compared to longer-term trends: From 1981 to 2007, before the start of the Great Recession, state tax revenue growth averaged approximately 7% annually. 
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New Source for Resources to Promote Operational Excellence

Finding better ways to get things done while lowering costs has been made a little easier by a compilation of good ideas and best practices compiled by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Innovations in Government Program. Working with United States Common Sense, the group has identified “the best operational efficiency reports across state and local governments,” indexing the 30 reports it found most promising. This new Operational Excellence in Government project includes more than 2,000 free resources, and “the reviewed reports highlight various categories that reflect an array of operational challenges, including revenue enhancement and finance, workforce management, asset management and sustainability, data and information technology, performance and accountability, and public engagement.” 

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How to Conclude an E-Mail to Get the Best Chance of a Response

Different e-mail sign-offs yield different response rates, according to Boomerang, an e-mail productivity app. Unsurprisingly, showing gratitude appears to work best. Business Insider reports the following results:

  • “Thanks in advance” had a response rate of 65.7%
  • “Thanks”—63%
  • “Thank you”—57.9%
  • “Cheers”—54.4%
  • “Kind regards”—53.9%
  • “Regards”—53.5%
  • “Best regards”—52.9%
  • “Best”—51.2%

The average response rate for all the emails in their sample was 47.5%.

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Editor: Marcy Boggs  |  Executive Director/CEO: Jeffrey Esser

The GFOA Newsletter (ISSN 1051-6964) is published weekly by
the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.
Correspondence regarding editorial and/or business matters should be sent to
GFOA, 203 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2700, Chicago, IL 60601-1210. Phone - 312/977-9700 FAX - 312/977-4806.


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