State Net Capitol Journal – July 14, 2014; Federal Highway Funding Bottleneck Forces States To Hit Brakes On Road Projects

Budget & Taxes FEDERAL HIGHWAY FUNDING BOTTLENECK FORCES STATES TO HIT BRAKES ON ROAD PROJECTS: With the specter of an empty federal Highway Trust Fund looming, states — which count on that fund for 15 to nearly 60 percent of their transportation budgets (see Bird's eye view) —...

State Net Capitol Journal – July 21, 2014; Philadelphia Cigarette Tax In Limbo

Budget & Taxes PHILADELPHIA CIGARETTE TAX IN LIMBO: The cash-strapped school district and city of Philadelphia have been pushing for a bill imposing a $2 surcharge on every pack of cigarettes sold in the city to provide enough funding to avert 1,300 layoffs and the ballooning of class sizes to...

State Net Capitol Journal – August 4, 2014; States Backing IRA-Style Plans For Workers Without Retirement Accounts

Budget & Taxes STATES BACKING IRA-STYLE PLANS FOR WORKERS WITHOUT RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS: Inspired by his Aunt Francisca — who spent much of her 74-plus years cleaning houses for people whose retirements were well-provided for but who had only Social Security to count on herself — California...

State Net Capitol Journal – August 11, 2014; Pennsylvania House Cancels Vote On Cigarette Tax

Budget & Taxes PA HOUSE CANCELS VOTE ON CIGARETTE TAX: The prospects for a cigarette tax bill providing emergency funding for Philadelphia schools were thrown into limbo last month when Republicans who control the state's Senate made some last minute changes to the measure (see PHILADELPHIA...

State Net Capitol Journal – August 18, 2014; Federal High-Speed Rail Investment Generating Lackluster Returns

Budget & Taxes FEDERAL HIGH-SPEED RAIL INVESTMENT GENERATING LACKLUSTER RETURNS: In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke of a future in which sleek bullet trains whisk passengers all about the country at speeds of over 200 m.p.h. "Within 25 years, our goal...

State Net Capitol Journal – September 1, 2014; States Easing Way For Crowdfunding

Budget & Taxes Budget & Taxes STATES EASING WAY FOR CROWDFUNDING: Over the past three years, a dozen states have enacted laws or regulations allowing startups to raise investment capital through crowdfunding without having to go through all the regulatory hoops companies with shareholders...

State Net Capitol Journal – September 8, 2014; Performance-Based Budgeting Catching On Again In States

Budget & Taxes PERFORMANCE-BASED BUDGETING CATCHING ON AGAIN IN STATES: "Performance-based budgeting," which started to catch on among state governments in the 1990s but fell out of favor during the Great Recession, is reportedly making a comeback. And not everyone is happy about that...

State Net Capitol Journal – September 22, 2014; States Keeping Eye On Billionaires

Budget & Taxes STATES KEEPING EYE ON BILLIONAIRES: When the wealthiest Americans sell large quantities of stock or suffer big losses, it can have a significant impact on the finances of the states where they reside, especially if those states are small and collect taxes on income or capital gains...

State Net Capitol Journal – September 29, 2014; States Taxing Tourists

Budget & Taxes STATES TAXING TOURISTS: State and local governments across the country are increasingly looking at charging seasonal residents higher property taxes than year-round residents for the privilege of enjoying their locales' scenic beauty and mild winter weather. "Hit the...

State Net Capitol Journal – October 6, 2014; Yoga Community Takes Exception To DC'S 'Yoga Tax'

Budget & Taxes YOGA COMMUNITY TAKES EXCEPTION TO DC'S 'YOGA TAX': A tax on health club businesses, dubbed the "yoga tax," went into effect in the District of Columbia last week. The funny thing about the new tax is that the yoga community doesn't think it should apply...

State Net Capitol Journal – October 13, 2014; Switch To 401k-Style Retirement Plan Could Cost NJ Billions

Budget & Taxes SWITCH TO 401K-STYLE RETIREMENT PLAN COULD COST NJ BILLIONS: States across the country have been shifting new public employees from defined-benefit pension plans to 401k-style plans in an effort to get a grip on their ballooning public pension costs. But New Jersey's switch...

State Net Capitol Journal – October 20, 2014; Gas Tax 'On the Table' In NJ

Budget & Taxes GAS TAX 'ON THE TABLE' IN NJ: Since pledging in 2011 to use more cash and less debt to pay for his state's transportation needs, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has put only $66 million of the $1.2 billion he pledged to put into the state's transportation fund...

State Net Capitol Journal – November 3, 2014; Massachusetts Casino Study At Odds With Experience Of Other States

MA CASINO STUDY AT ODDS WITH EXPERIENCE OF OTHER STATES: Supporters of a November ballot measure in Massachusetts (Question 3) aimed at repealing the 2011 law authorizing as many as three resort casinos and a slots parlor in the state issued a press release last month predicting the law would reduce...

State Net Capitol Journal – November 10, 2014; North Carolina Department of Transportation Looking For Ways To Boost Earnings

NC DOT LOOKING FOR WAYS TO BOOST EARNINGS: North Carolina's Department of Transportation wants to start operating more like a business. It's already planning to sell advertising and naming rights for DOT ferry boats and highway-helper trucks to help defray its operating costs. And the state's...

State Net Capitol Journal – November 17, 2014; High Court Considers Double Taxation Issue

Budget & Taxes HIGH COURT CONSIDERS DOUBLE TAXATION ISSUE: The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last week in a case involving a Maryland couple who sued that state over how it taxed the income they earned outside the state. The couple alleges Maryland's practice of offering only a partial...

State Net Capitol Journal – November 24, 2014; No Marketplace Fairness Act This Year

Budget & Taxes NO MARKETPLACE FAIRNESS ACT THIS YEAR: States hoping for a piece of the estimated $23 billion-plus a year in uncollected state sales taxes on Internet purchases — at least in the form of the federal Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) — probably won't get their wish this...

State Net Capitol Journal – December 8, 2014; Necessity Of Georgia’s Income Tax Cap

Budget & Taxes NECESSITY OF GA'S INCOME TAX CAP: Last month Georgia became the first state in the nation to make it unconstitutional to raise its income tax, when voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment A, capping the state's top rate at its current 6 percent. Georgia's fiscal...

State Net Capitol Journal – December 15, 2014; Inventory Tax Costing Louisiana Millions

Budget & Taxes INVENTORY TAX COSTING LA MILLIONS: Every year Louisiana businesses pay hundreds of millions of dollars in inventory taxes to parish governments. The state then issues them a full refund. The state's inventory tax refund program, approved by the Legislature more than two decades...

State Net Capitol Journal – New Hampshire Supreme Court Okays Pension Reform Law

Budget & Taxes NH SUPREME COURT OKAYS PENSION REFORM LAW: In 2013 the Superior Court in Merrimack County, New Hampshire invalidated a 2011 state law increasing the amount public employees — even those who've been on the job over 10 years — have to contribute to their pensions,...

State Net Capitol Journal – Municipalities Contend With Traffic-Camera Backlash

Budget & Taxes MUNICIPALITIES CONTEND WITH TRAFFIC-CAMERA BACKLASH: Speed and red-light cameras have generated millions of dollars for municipalities across the country. But a backlash against the cameras by motorists has led many of those municipalities and some states to abandon their use, leaving...

State Net Capitol Journal – January 19, 2015; Supreme Court To Decide Fate Of Colorado Taxpayer's Bill of Rights

Budget & Taxes SUPREME COURT TO DECIDE FATE OF CO TABOR: Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights — requiring lawmakers to obtain voter approval to raise taxes and to issue refunds to taxpayers when revenues grow faster than inflation and population growth — has survived repeated...

State Net Capitol Journal – February 2, 2015; Suit Blames Morgan Stanley For Detroit's Fiscal Crisis

Budget & Taxes SUIT BLAMES MORGAN STANLEY FOR DETROIT'S FISCAL CRISIS: The Wall Street investment firm that has already agreed under settlements with U.S. government regulators to pay over $1.5 billion for its part in the subprime mortgage scandal that helped precipitate the Great Recession...

State Net Capitol Journal – February 9, 2015; Minnesota Top-Tier Tax Hike Doesn't Spur Exodus

Budget & Taxes MN TOP-TIER TAX HIKE DOESN'T SPUR EXODUS: In 2013, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and the DFL-controlled Legislature added a new income tax bracket for the state's highest earners, individuals who make $150,000 or more per year and couples who make $250,000 or more. During...

State Net Capitol Journal – February 16, 2015; Severance-Tax States Suffer In Oil-Price Slump

Budget & Taxes SEVERANCE-TAX STATES SUFFER IN OIL-PRICE SLUMP: Motorists across the country have welcomed the more than 50 percent drop in oil prices since last summer, from over $100 a barrel in June to $50 this month. But the same can't be said for state governments. The collapse in oil...

State Net Capitol Journal – March 2, 2015; Red and Blue States Considering Tax Cuts For Middle-Class

Budget & Taxes RED AND BLUE STATES CONSIDERING TAX CUTS FOR MIDDLE-CLASS: Republican- and Democrat-dominated states are polls apart on most issues. But there appears to be some agreement about the need for tax cuts for low- and middle-income taxpayers, although there's still a difference of...