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Description - When Government Fails by Mark Baldassare

When Orange County, California, filed for Chapter 9 protection on December 6, 1994, it became the largest municipality in US history to declare bankruptcy. This analysis of the fiscal crisis uncovers the many twists and turns from the dark days in December 1994 to the financial recovery of June 1996. Utilizing primary materials from the county government and Merrill Lynch, as well as interviews with key officials and players in the drama, Mark Baldassare untangles the causes of the $1.64 billion fiasco. He finds three factors critical to understanding the bankruptcy: one, the political fragmentation of the numerous local governments in the area; two, the fiscal conservatism underlying voters' feelings about their tax dollars; and three, the financial austerity in state government and in meeting rising state expenditures. Baldassare finds that these forces help to explain how a county known for its affluence and conservative politics could have allowed its cities' school, water, transportation, and sanitation agencies to be held hostage to this failed investment pool. Examining the events that led up to the bankruptcy, the local officials' response to the fiscal emergency, and the road to fiscal recovery - as well as the governmental reforms engendered by the crisis - the book is an instructive economic morality tale. It underlines the dangers inherent in a freewheeling bull economy and the imperatives of local and state governments to protect fiscal assets. As Baldassare shows, Orange County need not - and should not - happen again.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780520214866
ISBN-10: 0520214862
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
Publish Date: 28-Apr-1998
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Mark Baldassare

Mark Baldassare is a Senior Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and Professor and Chair of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of California, Irvine. He is also founder and Director of the Orange County Annual Survey, and the author of numerous books in urban politics.

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