Tracy Gordon

BIO
Tracy Gordon is a Senior Fellow with the Tax Policy Center. Gordon researches and writes on state and local government finances, including taxes, budgeting, intergovernmental relations, municipal debt, and pensions. She was previously a senior economist with the White House Council of Economic Advisers, fellow at the Brookings Institution, assistant professor at the Maryland School of Public Policy, and fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. Twitter: @gordontrac


Puerto Rico: Not Your Father’s Debt Crisis – or Your Greek Uncle’s

By :: July 1st, 2015

In a remarkable statement, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced this week that Puerto Rico’s debts are “not payable.” Nobody was really surprised. The island can work its way out of this financial mess with a two-pronged strategy: An aggressive short-term effort to raise taxes, cut spending, and improve financial controls combined with a long-run plan […]

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Ferguson City Finances: Not the New Normal

By :: April 8th, 2015

The recently completed US Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into Ferguson’s police department highlighted “the City’s focus on revenue rather than … public safety needs” when setting law enforcement priorities. It noted that fines and forfeitures nearly doubled as a share of the city’s general fund revenues from fiscal years 2010 to 2015 (from 12 […]

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Go Team: Score 1 for Obama on Ending Tax Subsidies for College Sports

By :: February 6th, 2015

I love college sports. I really do – especially basketball. (Go Wildcats!) But I also love President Obama’s FY16 budget proposal to cut federal subsidies for premium seats at college sporting events. Federal subsidies ought to provide national benefits and there’s no evidence that boosting attendance in high-priced courtside or skybox seats does that. Let’s […]

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A Fuller Accounting of How State and Local Governments Fared in the Great Recession

By :: February 4th, 2015

For state and local finance geeks, nothing is more fun than poring over the Census Bureau’s Census of Governments. The agency only updates the data every five years, so imagine my excitement when it released its latest version (for 2012) just a few months ago. Although Census and other agencies release some state and local […]

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Don’t Count the Feds Out Yet

By :: December 9th, 2014

In a provocative Washington Post column, Brookings Institution scholar Bruce Katz argues that the federal government is becoming irrelevant — especially to cities and regions where most Americans live and most economic activity takes place. While Bruce rightly identifies some areas where the feds are fading, he overstates the phenomenon. The federal government remains the […]

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Bertha and the French Professor: Lessons for Public Private Partnerships

By :: October 21st, 2014

Jean Tirole is an influential, respected, and by all accounts gracious man who won this year’s Nobel Prize in economics. Bertha is a 7,000-ton tunnel boring machine that’s been stuck under Seattle for nine months—but is still tweeting—as state officials and a private contractor battle over who should pay to get her out. What do […]

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It’s Not Easy to Escape the Local Pension Vise

By :: October 6th, 2014

Last week’s federal court ruling in the municipal bankruptcy case of Stockton, CA highlighted the enormous challenge faced by local governments with underfunded public pensions. There are ways out of this vise, but none are easy, and all are fraught with risks. State governments face at least a $1 trillion gap between pensions promised to […]

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A New Look at State and Local Pension Liabilities

By :: August 7th, 2013

What if state and local government deficits doubled over night and nobody noticed? That’s what happened last Wednesday when the Bureau of Economic Analysis released its comprehensive revision of the National Income and Product Accounts. As my TPC colleague Donald Marron noted, the new BEA numbers downsized the federal government relative to GDP.  They assigned […]

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Detroit’s Pension Blues, and America’s

By :: July 31st, 2013

In the week since Detroit became the largest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy, many commentators have speculated about what, if anything, this action means for the rest of the country.  One narrative is that Detroit is sui generis – a city whose fiscal problems were long in the making, aided by broad macroeconomic forces and […]

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No City is an Island: What the Stockton City Bankruptcy Means (and Doesn’t)

By :: April 3rd, 2013

A few years ago, it was fashionable to compare California, Illinois, or whatever U.S. state was struggling financially to the troubled island nation of Greece.  Now, with Stockton, California the largest U.S. municipality to enter bankruptcy, it may be tempting to make another Mediterranean comparison – this time to the troubled island nation of Cyprus. […]

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