By Scott Pattison, ABFM Chair
It is a busy time in Washington, especially on the financial front. More so than in the past, the trials and tribulations of budgets and financial conditions of all levels of government across the country and around the globe are front and center in the minds and consciousness of fellow citizens, politicians and policy makers.
Sequestration is a reality here in Washington. In just the past week, Congress already took one step to alleviate its impact, helping eliminate furloughs for air traffic controllers. While we may see noted improvement at our nation’s airports, there is no doubt the move will create greater pressure on Capitol Hill and in the White House to either responsibly address our Federal fiscal woes, or simply return to the status quo of indefinite deficit spending.
In several state capitals, legislatures and Governor’s Offices are stepping to the plate with significant budget and revenue reform proposals. These proposals have stirred up interesting debates about budgets, taxes and financial management. Battles continue, as most state leaders, regardless the chosen strategy, are well aware that changes may be necessary.
At the local level, the options are even more diverse and volatile. While some parts of the country have rebounded from the economic hardships of the 2007-2008 downturn, many other still find themselves with high unemployment, declining property values and tax bases and increased demand for public services. Additional pressures, such as cuts in state and Federal support and ongoing non-discretionary funding challenges, create a perfect storm for attempting to facility growth and opportunity while providing the means to provide essential services.
All of this means, of course, is that our role in the evaluation, research and consideration of trends, best practices and lessons of public sector finance and budgeting is of more importance than ever. I am really proud of the work our fellow members undertake to advance the cause of professional public finance management.
I see this everyday through my work with NASBO, my interaction with Federal and state budgeting and finance professionals, and the contributions made to research and practice by our fellow ABFM members. Our last issue of Line Item and its focus on state sales tax reform, along with the great selection of articles found in Public Budgeting & Finance and Public Administration Review remind me of the deep skills, knowledge and experience shared and cultivated within our ranks.
Our last issue of Line Item, featuring a comprehensive look at state-level tax reform initiatives and associated issues, generated significant discussion and exposure for our organization. I greatly appreciate the cooperation of our longtime partner, the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis, for hosting a special webinar this past March, where several of the contributors to this issue and I had a chance to further discuss this important issue.
We are working actively with AABPA to expand our partnership efforts. Look forward to some exciting developments over the next couple months.
More than 80 proposals have been received for our 2013 ABFM Conference in Washington. If you have not already submitted a proposal, I strongly encourage you to do so during these last few days. Click here for more information.
Very soon, we will start sharing information on the next round of nominations and elections for the ABFM Executive Committee and Officer positions. We are always looking for our fellow members to step up and provide the leadership necessary to continue growing and developing our organization. I sincerely want those of you with a strong interest in building ABFM to consider submitting your nominations, and I look forward to an active election and a strong corps of leadership to guide our future.
Regardless your role, practitioner or academic, researcher and applier, I urge you to continue to build upon the great body of work and progress made by our membership on a continuing basis. As we confront the realities of real-time expectations and digital commerce and management, remember that we are all part of a select group within a broad profession that often finds us in the minority at any one given location.