U.S. state and local government finances remain precarious. The degree of trouble varies from place to place, of course, but generally it will take decades for states and cities to put their finances in anything like good order. It is, in fact, a good bet that no middle-aged person today will live to see such an event. One wag has suggested the yet unborn will not live to see such a day. But if such cynicism rings of truth, the immediate outlook nonetheless points to some modest relief, at least enough to ease some of the strains under which state and local governments have labored and improve investment performance in the area as well as the overall economic picture.