Last Friday the City Council of North Las Vegas, Nevada’s fourth largest city just north and east of Las Vegas, voted unanimously to suspend part of its union agreement in order to balance its budget. With property tax and general tax revenues down by more than 30 percent in just the last three years, North Las Vegas was facing a shortfall of $30 million in its $500 million budget.
Under state law it must submit a balanced budget by June 1. Negotiations with three public employee unions, the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association (POA), the North Las Vegas Police Supervisors Association (PSA), and the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), began in January but the unions refused to make the concessions necessary to keep the city solvent.
The latest report from the nonpartisan Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College was brutal in its assessment of the status of state and local pension plans and their ability to keep their promises to their beneficiaries and retirees. With public pension funds underfunded by half, those states, cities and municipalities — and their taxpayers — would have to double their contributions to those plans just to have any chance of them avoiding default on their promises to those depending on them for their retirement.
A massive China-based conglomerate headed by a member of the nation’s ruling Communist Party announced last week the largest ever corporate takeover of an American firm by a Chinese company, sparking concerns among analysts about the regime’s projection of “soft power.” For more than $2.5 billion, the Dalian Wanda Group agreed to purchase U.S.-based AMC Entertainment Holdings — one of the world’s top movie theater chains — to create what will become the biggest cinema operator on earth after the merger.
Critics of the deal expressed alarm over the influence the deal is expected to give China’s totalitarian rulers within the U.S. and international film industry. As the second-largest movie-theater chain in America, Kansas City-based AMC owns or operates hundreds of cinemas in more than 30 U.S. states and at least five other nations. It is also the world’s largest operator of I-MAX and 3D screens.
ClearSign Combustion in Seattle, Washington, is one of the first small “early-stage” companies to raise public capital under the JOBS Act enacted in early April. The company’s core expertise is in using computer technology to make boilers, furnaces, turbines, and other combustion systems more efficient. It sold three million shares at $4 each, raising $12 million in the process. After expenses and underwriters’ fees, the company expects to net about $9.5 million. But without the JOBS Act it might not even have bothered.