(Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, on his way to a press conference. Yes, he actually does this, and not just for the cameras. Photo by Hugger Industries, generously shared via CC license.)
Seattle has plenty of problems. But its bond rating isn't one of them:
Mayor Mike McGinn's budget director Beth Goldberg introduced several proposals for replenishing and strengthening the Revenue Stabilization Account, the city's "rainy day" fund, which now stands at $11.2 million, down from a high of $30 million in 2008. The proposals include dedicating 0.5 percent of all general revenue tax receipts to the fund, along with half of all end-of-year fund balances in excess of that forecast. The rainy day fund is capped by law at 5 percent of annual general revenue tax receipts, currently about $37.5 million, and the goal would be to rebuild the reserves toward that maximum amount...
...it turns out that fiscal prudence like this has served the city well, enabling it to preserve its AAA bond rating throughout the Great Recession, even as some other municipal governments teeter on the brink of insolvency...
So yeah, Mayor McGinn is a tree-hugging/bike-riding/tunnel-hating/closet-San-Franciscan, but when it comes to fiscal matters, it turns out he's rather, well, conservative compared to say, the debt-addled speculators running the foundering Seattle Times. Even McGinn's opposition to the deep bore tunnel—an obsession that some have used to label him a goofy liberal—is largely based on fiscal concerns: That it is too expensive, provides too little benefit for the cost, and poses an unacceptably high risk to tax payers.
I know this portrait of McGinn as a fiscally responsible budgeter runs counter to caricature, but it's hard to argue otherwise.
What works in Seattle may not work everywhere else. But it is an example worth comparing to say, certain would-be presidential candidates that want you to believe that they are "fiscal conservatives".