Critical Issues in Public Finance

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Course Number: 
GAFL 5280

Course Section:



  • Executive MPA

Course Type: 

  • Elective



  • Spring 2023

Course Format:

Hybrid (on-campus and online)
On-Campus Day(s): 
On-Campus Time: 
9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
On-Campus Time(s): 

For Spring 2023, this course will consist of a combination of once-a-week live Zoom sessions on Monday evenings (5:15 - 6:15 p.m.) and four intensive Saturdays (1/14, 2/11, 3/18, 4/22) from 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. This course has seats reserved for Fels students and gives priority to grad students. Permits can be requested on Path@Penn.

On-Campus Location:

Online Day(s): 
Online Time: 
5:15 - 6:15 p.m.
Course Description: 

The Critical Issues in Public Finance course will consider contemporary issues affecting the fiscal state of local governments. Covered will be issues that have distressed municipalities; the policies/initiatives that seek to rectify such including privatization/public private partnerships; reformation of municipal pensions; sustainable education funding alternatives; and tax policies aimed at promoting economic growth. Students will be assigned to a team, which will identify and provide a solution for an issue or issues plaguing a fictional government. Each team will prepare a written report and make a presentation all of which will constitute the final project. Assignments will serve as the building blocks for the final written work product and presentation developed by each team. The class is divided into four modules. The first module will take a historical look at events behind fiscal distress in municipalities and then explore current day drivers that are causing the same today. Modules two, three, and four will examine some of the tools that have been used successfully or otherwise to remediate the drivers of fiscal distress. In each module case studies will be used to further analyze the particular fiscal challenge of a municipality. Written assignments will be based on case studies.

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326