Nov 19

Past Event

Fiscal Challenges Facing Cities: Implications for Economic Recovery



  • Bruce Katz

    Katz says there can''t be a healthy national economy without healthy local economies adding that budget cuts in these municipalities will eventually hamper the progress of recovery.

    Bruce Katz

  • Chris Hoene

    Hoene explains that all government budgetary revenue streams are connected, and many city financial officers feel these income sources are imperiled at this time and in the near term.

  • Jared Bernstein

    The true measure of the nation''s fiscal health is robust job growth Bernstein says.

  • The Honorable Elaine Walker

    Walker says cities can make it through this fiscal crisis with help from federal and state governments and with input from the public on new ways to address problems and provide services.

  • The Honorable Michael Nutter

    Nutter says the federal government has rescued a number of financial institutions adding that cities nationwide need that same kind of assistance to help them to get through this crisis.

  • Steve Cochrane

    We have fiscal problems in the near term and longer term that will spur the need for new partnerships and new ways to generate revenues in all levels of government, Cochrane says.


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The current economic crisis is not only a national crisis; it is also a metropolitan crisis. And soon the downturn will bring a local government fiscal crisis. Given the normal lag time of 18–24 months between changes in the economic cycle and its impact on city fiscal conditions, local officials anticipate that the next year or two will bring large-scale city government layoffs, deep cuts to local government services, and halted or delayed capital projects. Just as federal stimulus package spending trails off, city fiscal dynamics could well place a serious drag on economic recovery.

On November 19, the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and the National League of Cities co-hosted a forum on city fiscal conditions, the responses being undertaken by creative mayors, and the implications for national economic recovery. Brookings Vice President Bruce Katz and National League of Cities Executive Director Donald Borut opened the event. Following reviews of current and projected trends in local government fiscal conditions, Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel moderated a panel of sitting mayors, including Michael Nutter of Philadelphia; Chuck Reed of San José, California; Scott Smith of Mesa, Arizona; and Elaine Walker of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Jared Bernstein, chief economist and economic policy advisor to Vice President Joseph Biden, closed the session.

Panelists and speakers took audience questions.

Event Agenda

  • Welcome

  • Opening Remarks

    • Chris Hoene

      Research Director, National League of Cities

    • Steve Cochrane


  • Panel Discussion

    • Moderator: David Wessel

      Economics Editor, Wall Street Journal

    • The Honorable Michael Nutter

      Mayor, City of Philadelphia, Pa.

    • The Honorable Chuck Reed


      City of San José, Calif.

    • The Honorable Scott Smith

      Mayor, City of Mesa, Ariz.

    • The Honorable Elaine Walker

      Mayor, City of Bowling Green, Ky.

  • Closing Remarks

    • Jared Bernstein

      Chief Economist and Economic Policy Advisor to the Vice President, The White House


November 19, 2009

9:00 AM - 11:45 AM EST

The Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications

(202) 797-6105