How can we use municipal finance techniques to improve government efficiency?

The Center for Municipal Finance (CMF) enables students and faculty to engage the major financial issues of the day facing state and local governments in the United States and around the globe. Some of the topical and enduring issues of municipal finance include financing infrastructure, the use of municipal bonds, privatization, pension liabilities and the efficacy of reform, tax base adequacy, and more.

“We need to rethink the practices and techniques of contemporary municipal finance to provide government services more efficiently and to manage pressing problems related to the public sector,” said Harris Professor Christopher Berry, who directs the CMF.

Center Highlights

October 25, 2019, Center of Municipal Finance Advisory Board Member, Courtney Shea named 2019 Freda Johnson Award winner, alongside Ritta McLaughlin. Read More 

October 15, 2019, WTTW interview Michael Belsky has a new idea for paying back Chicago’s pension debt: directly depositing profits from government-owned assets into the city’s pension funds. View Interview

August 29. 2019, WTTW featuring Michael Belsky: Chicago’s $838M Budget Gap and the Path Ahead. View Interview

July 15, 2019, Paula Worthington represented the Center of Municipal Finance at the Municipal Finance Conference in Washington, DC addressing Climate change and state and local governments: The risk of fiscal collapse in coal-reliant communities. View Here 

July 9, 2019, In Crain's Chicago Business, Paula Worthington approaches the City of Chicago's inadequate infrastructure with several key principles. View Here

May 14, 2019, Michael Belsky participated on a panel discussion as part of the Treasurer's final Quarterly Earnings Call; asked to take two to three minutes and describe 1. The biggest financial challenge the incoming Mayor needs to address and 2. The greatest opportunity to improve the fiscal outlook for Chicago. Event Info 

April 25-26, 2019, the Center of Municipal Finance held the Annual CFO Forum in Washington, DC; an initiative by Harris Public Policy at the University of Chicago, the City of Chicago, and the District of Columbia to support policy dialogue and create a peer-learning network of CFOs from the largest cities in the United States. View Event Info 

March 16, 2019, at the American Planning Association Conference 2019, the Center of Municipal finance addressed infrastructure challenges facing cities and towns are significant and rising. Questions addressed in this session include: What are the key avenues for investing in infrastructure to achieve sustainable investment when planning for the future? What are the most effective and innovative financing mechanisms that localities are adopting to meet infrastructure investment challenges? How can you enhance your work as an urban planner with an awareness and understanding of public finance?  Event Info  

March 12, 2019, Michael Belsky was a panelist at a Congressional briefing on municipal bonds and infrastructure on March 12, 2019, in Washington, DC. 

The roundtable topics included:

  • Preservation of the tax-exemption
  • Reinstatement of advance refunding
  • Expansion of PABs

Press Coverage

See the latest CMF press coverage.


Christopher Berry

Academic Director, Center for Municipal Finance

Christopher Berry

Christopher Berry is the Academic Director of the Center for Municipal Finance and a Professor at Harris.
Michael D. Belsky

Executive Director, Center for Municipal Finance

Michael Belsky, AM'83

Michael D. Belsky is the Executive Director of the Center for Municipal Finance at Harris and teaches a course on the fundamentals of municipal bonds as part of the Municipal Finance Certificate Program. Mr. Belsky has over 30 years of experience in the Municipal Bond Industry.