Group examining budget crisis brings on Widmeyer

WASHINGTON: The State Budget Crisis Task Force has hired Widmeyer Communications to promote an upcoming report on financial problems faced by US states.

WASHINGTON: The State Budget Crisis Task Force has hired Widmeyer Communications to promote an upcoming report on financial problems faced by US states.

The organization has reviewed the current economic situation in the US and identified major threats to fiscal sustainability in six states: California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Virginia. This month, three cities in California alone filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Task Force profiled the states in the report because they have one-third of the nation's population and they represent diverse budget issues.

The Task Force, which is led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, will release the report at an event at The Newseum in Washington DC on July 17.

Widmeyer is working to create a significant media impact on the day of the report's release. Outlets like The Economist, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and several TV networks have stories in development about the report's findings, said Scott Widmeyer, CEO of the eponymous firm.

“We are encouraged by the early interest,” he said.

The agency is also helping with the logistics of the Newseum event and putting together the report's executive summary. It has also helped the Task Force find appropriate state and federal employees to send the report to for review.  

Following the July 17 event, the Task Force hopes to maintain media interest by meeting with officials in the six states. Feedback from these meetings will likely result in a second report, said Task Force executive director Donald Boyd.

The group hired Widmeyer after a recommendation from The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which is co-funding its work, said Boyd. He declined to release a budget for the firm's project. Other groups such as the Ewing Marion  Kauffman Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are also funding the project.

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