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The Financial Crisis in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Author: JANE BECKETT-CAMARATA and CLEOPATRA GRIZZLE
Published in PFM, Vol. 14 No. 1

This article provides a comprehensive analysis of the Harrisburg, PA fiscal crisis and subsequent bankruptcy filing. While the “money burning” incinerator in Harrisburg was a major contributing factor to its overall financial crisis, there were other contributing factors. These include a mixture of political expediency, financial chicanery and malfeasance by public officials, demographic changes, economic decline of the city and the national economic environment during the Great Recession. The paper concludes by focusing on the lessons to be learned from the mistakes made by city officials and offers policy recommendations for other state and local governments to avoid future fiscal crises of this magnitude.

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