Budget & Taxes

California Housing Bill Suffers Major Setback | 05-17-2019

According to U.S. census data, almost two-thirds of California residences are single-family homes. And a survey last year by the University of California, Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation found that much of the state’s developable...

NY Cities Hoping to Lure Refugees from Other States | 05-17-2019

In recent decades individuals who have come to the United States to escape violence or persecution in their home countries have helped rejuvenate and shore up budgets in upstate New York cities where population declines have accompanied a loss of manufacturing...

Budgets in Brief - May 20 2019 | 05-17-2019

LA GOV, HOUSE LEADER AT ODDS ON SALES TAX BREAK LOUISIANA state Rep. Lance Harris (R), who heads the House majority caucus, introduced legislation last week to roll back the sales tax increase lawmakers approved last year to help shore up the state...

Gas Tax Hikes Not Long-Term Fix for Transportation Funding | 05-10-2019

Since 2013, 31 states have raised their gas taxes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures . Four states - Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio and Virginia - have done so this year. And Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin could be next...

Pensions Relying More on Alternative Investments With Little to Show for It | 05-10-2019

Public pensions are relying more than ever on high-risk investments like real estate and hedge funds to boost their returns. But that approach doesn’t appear to be working. In 2007 alternative investments comprised 9 percent of state and local...

Budgets in Brief - May 13 2019 | 05-10-2019

MT ENACTS SCHOOL SAFETY TAX BILL MONTANA Gov. Steve Bullock (D) has signed a bill ( SB 92 ) that will allow schools to levy a new tax specifically for school safety. The bill will also let schools use existing funding streams for safety upgrades. ...

Soda Taxes Stalled in States | 05-03-2019

In his budget address in late February, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) called for a tax increase on sodas and other sugary drinks. Soda tax legislation has also been introduced this year in California, Massachusetts New York, Rhode Island and Vermont...

CT Dems Want Cities and Towns to Share Burden of Teacher Pensions | 05-03-2019

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) and his fellow Democrats who control the state’s General Assembly have come up with a plan to reduce the state’s public school teacher pension costs: get local governments to cover some of them. Under the proposal...

Budgets in Brief - May 6 2019 | 05-03-2019

COST OF SCALED BACK HIGH-SPEED RAIL IN CA GOING UP The cost to build a 119-mile segment of CALIFORNIA’s high-speed rail system in the state’s Central Valley could be $1.8 billion higher than the $10.6 billion previously projected, according...

CO Looking to Codify Big Change to Online Sales Tax System: | 04-19-2019

The Colorado House Finance Committee has unanimously approved legislation ( HB 1240 ) that would codify a controversial rule change announced last year by the state’s Department of Revenue establishing a destination-based sales tax system. ...

Bitcoin Tax Experiment Off to Slow Start in OH | 04-19-2019

This tax season, as part of an effort to attract blockchain-based companies to the state, Ohio gave businesses that operate there the option of paying their taxes with bitcoin. Home furnishings company Overstock was one company that took the state...

Budgets in Brief - April 22 2019 | 04-19-2019

TIT FOR TAT ON NYC TRAFFIC TOLLS U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D- NEW JERSEY ) said he intends to introduce legislation potentially cutting federal funding for NEW YORK or its transportation authority if the congestion pricing plan just approved for Manhattan...

HI Making Headway on Vacation Rental Tax System | 04-12-2019

Hawaii’s House and Senate both passed bills last week that would require short-term rental platforms like Airbnb to collect and pay taxes on behalf of their hosts. Collection of the state’s transient accommodations and general excise...

TX Gov Calls for Sales Tax Hike | 04-12-2019

A call for the first sales tax increase in Texas in nearly 30 years came from an unlikely source last week: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who has routinely touted his state as a haven for tax- and regulation-averse conservatives. His proposed penny...

Budgets in Brief - April 15 2019 | 04-12-2019

ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY TAX CREDIT EXTENDED IN NY A provision extending NEW YORK’s film and television credit for two years was quietly inserted into the state budget shortly before it was approved last month. The credit, which cost the state...

States Seeking to Influence ‘Opportunity Zone’ Investment | 04-05-2019

Included in the 2017 federal tax overhaul was a substantial tax break for investments in businesses and properties located in economically distressed areas. Although state governors had a hand in selecting the nearly 9,000 “opportunity zones”...

Budgets in Brief - April 8 2019 | 04-05-2019

LEGAL SPORTS BETTING GENERATING LESS REVENUE THAN EXPECTED Revenue from sports betting has fallen well short of projections in four of the six states that legalized such wagering soon after the Supreme Court authorized it last year. RHODE ISLAND’s...

‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Bill in GA Also Provides Tax Break | 03-22-2019

A bill introduced late last month in the Georgia House would ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat was detected by a doctor, which usually occurs at about the six-week point of a pregnancy. But HB 481 would also allow parents to claim a fetus with...

Retiree Renters Present Challenges, Opportunities for Cities | 03-22-2019

Between 2007 and 2017, the number of renters in the United States over the age of 60 increased by 43 percent, according to a report this month from RentCafé , a nationwide apartment search service. That surge in older renters, in turn, helped raise...

Budgets in Brief - March 25 2019 | 03-22-2019

NY LAWMAKERS CONSIDERING BRINGING CASINOS TO NYC NEW YORK state lawmakers, including Assembly speaker Carl Heastie (D), have been meeting with representatives from major gambling companies about the possibility of opening two to three full-fledged...

State Tax Officials Keeping Eye on Wealthy Former Residents | 03-15-2019

With the first tax season since the federal tax overhaul now in full swing, the $10,000 cap on state and local tax, or SALT, deductions included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may have wealthy Americans in some high-tax states eyeing moves to cheaper locales...

IL Gov Proposes Graduated Income Tax | 03-15-2019

Making good on a campaign promise, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has proposed a graduated income tax that he says would generate $3.4 billion in revenue for the state while lowering taxes for 97 percent of its residents. “It’s wrong...

Budgets in Brief - March 18 2019 | 03-15-2019

TX SENATE APPROVES $8.4B IN ADDITIONAL SPENDING FOR FY 2019 The TEXAS Senate approved a supplemental FY 2019 appropriation of $8.4 billion for lingering expenses associated with Hurricane Harvey, school safety measures and the teacher retirement system...

Corporate Incentive Recipients Breaking Job Promises | 03-08-2019

Two years ago Amazon announced plans to build a second headquarters in North America and invited cities to vie for the 50,000 jobs that facility would provide. More than 200 cities responded with incentive proposals. But companies don’t always...

Cities, States Taking on Mental Health Funding | 03-08-2019

The Affordable Care Act mandated that insurance companies cover mental health services at parity with medical care. But loopholes in the ACA and other federal laws have let some plans limit or exclude mental health coverage. So state and local governments...

Budgets in Brief - March 11 2019 | 03-08-2019

MN GOV PROPOSES $1.3B IN BORROWING MINNESOTA Gov. Tim Walz (D) has proposed borrowing nearly $1.3 billion to provide more affordable housing, fix buildings on college campuses and repair transportation infrastructure. Although parts of the governor’s...

States To Take Financial Hit From Trump Border Wall Action | 02-22-2019

President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border could collectively cost states, the District Columbia and two U.S. territories as much as $6 billion in federal military construction and National...

Big Tobacco Companies Shortchanging MN on Settlement Money | 02-22-2019

The makers of several cigarette brands, including Salem and Winston, have stopped paying Minnesota the money they owe it under the 1998 multistate tobacco settlement agreement. That has left the state with an estimated $15 million less per year to spend...

$1B Budget Surplus Not Enough to Help Poor in AZ | 02-22-2019

Four years ago, faced with a $1 billion budget deficit, Arizona’s GOP-controlled Legislature reduced the maximum amount of time residents could receive welfare benefits over their entire lives to 12 months, the shortest duration in the country....

Trump Administration Cuts Off Funding for CA High-Speed Rail | 02-22-2019

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced last week that it was canceling a $929 million grant to California for a high-speed rail project that was supposed to link San Francisco and Los Angeles. The announcement also said the department was...

Budgets in Brief - February 25 2019 | 02-22-2019

CT GOV PROPOSES SODA TAX CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned Lamont (D) unveiled a budget proposal last week calling for a new 1.5 cents per ounce tax on sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks that would generate an estimated $163 million in new revenue next fiscal...

AK Gov Proposes $300M Highway Funding Plan | 02-15-2019

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has proposed a plan to provide $300 million a year in funding for the state’s roads and highways - which would make it the largest road plan in the state’s history - and about $114 million a year for city and...

Teachers Walk Off Job in Denver | 02-15-2019

For the first time in 25 years, teachers in the Denver Public Schools system have gone on strike. Over 2,500 walked off the job last Monday when an 11th hour effort to hammer out a new contract with better pay fell apart after 15 months of negotiations...

Budgets in Brief - February 18 2019 | 02-15-2019

OH FACING $1B ROAD FUNDING SHORTFALL Jack Marchbanks, head of OHIO’s Department of Transportation, told the state House Finance Committee last week that the department is facing a revenue shortfall of $1 billion a year over the next decade. He...

Marijuana Black Market Big Problem for MA | 02-08-2019

Massachusetts voters legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2016. But over two years later, most pot sales in the state still take place on the black market. The main reason for that is the slow rollout of state-licensed pot shops, with only...

One-Party Control May Not Be Good for State Tax Policy | 02-08-2019

As a result of last year’s elections, Democrats or Republicans hold a trifecta -- control of both legislative chambers and the governor’s office -- in all but 13 states. While Republicans still hold most of those trifectas, 23, Democrats picked...

Budgets in Brief - February 11 2019 | 02-08-2019

UT HOUSE SPEAKER CALLS FOR RECORD TAX CUT UTAH House Speaker Brad Wilson (R) kicked off the state’s 2019 session by calling for a tax cut of at least $225 million. According to the Utah Taxpayers Association, that would be the state’s largest...

FCC Funding Spurs Dispute Between States and Cell Phone Carriers | 01-25-2019

Last year the Federal Communication Commission offered $4.5 billion in funding over the next 10 years to help states provide high-speed mobile broadband service in underserved rural areas. Cell phone carriers informed the FCC that several states...

LA Teachers End Strike | 01-25-2019

Los Angeles teachers ended their walkout and returned to their classrooms last week, after reaching a tentative contract agreement with the district. Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said there was wide support for the contract...

State Revenues Dip in December | 01-25-2019

Nine of the 10 most populous states with an income tax and available data experienced revenue drops in December. Those declines, due mainly to lower income tax collections, ranged from -3.4 percent in Ohio to -41 percent in California. The drops...

Budgets in Brief - January 28 2019 | 01-25-2019

CT APPROVES BANK LOANS FOR UNPAID FEDERAL WORKERS CONNECTICUT’s Democrat-led General Assembly overwhelmingly approved and Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed legislation providing state-backed, zero-interest loans for federal workers who aren’t...

DOJ Issues Bombshell Opinion on Internet Gambling | 01-18-2019

The U.S. Department of Justice dropped a bombshell on the online gambling industry last week when it announced a legal opinion it issued in November saying the federal Wire Act of 1961 - prohibiting the use of wire communication facilities to conduct...

States Rush to Fill Gaps Left by Federal Shutdown | 01-18-2019

As the partial closure of the federal government continues to drag on, states across the country are stepping up to assist the tens of thousands of their residents impacted by the longest federal shutdown in U.S. history. Brand new Govs. Gavin Newsom...

Budgets in Brief - January 21 2019 | 01-18-2019

BIG TRANSPORTATION FUNDING PROBLEM IN OH OHIO has run out of money for major road projects. A coalition of local governments, chambers of commerce, contractors, engineers and truck drivers called Fix Our Roads Ohio has formed to push for solutions...

Federal Shutdown Impacting States and Cities | 01-11-2019

The partial shutdown of the federal government which began on Dec. 22 is already affecting state and local governments. And that impact could soon grow significantly. According to Governing , mandatory programs that receive federal funding, like...

Recreational Pot Sales Going Up in Smoke in CA | 01-11-2019

In 2016 California voters approved Proposition 64, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, on the promise that the measure would, among other things, generate billions of dollars in tax revenues for the state and curb sales on the black market....

CA Gov Proposes $209B Budget | 01-11-2019

Last week, California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom (D), proposed a $209 billion general fund budget for next fiscal year, a 4-percent increase from the budget for the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30. Continuing the fiscally cautious...

Budgets in Brief - January 14 2019 | 01-11-2019

CA SCRAPS ‘TEXT TAX’ The CALIFORNIA Public Utilities Commission has canceled its plan to begin charging a fee for text messaging on mobile phones. That decision came after the Federal Communications Commission ruled last month that text...

Politics of Sustainable Investing by Public Funds | 12-14-2018

Sustainable, or ESG, investing – choosing investments based on environmental, social and governance considerations – has been around for decades. But such investing has really taken off in recent years. According to global investment research...

Some Shrinking U.S. Cities Thriving | 12-14-2018

Conventional wisdom holds that cities need population growth to be economically healthy. But between 2000 and 2016 per-capita income in Pittsburgh rose 24 percent - well over the national average of 18 percent - while the city’s population shrunk...