Budget & Taxes

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...

Congress Passes $867B Farm Bill | 12-14-2018

Congress has passed and President Trump is expected to sign an $867 billion farm bill that, among other things, will expand subsidies for farmers, provide permanent funding for local farmers markets and legalize hemp. The bill had bipartisan support in...

Budgets in Brief - December 17 2018 | 12-14-2018

WILDFIRE CLEANUP COULD COST CA $3B Clearing away the debris from the 19,000 homes and businesses destroyed by last month’s wildfires could cost CALIFORNIA at least $3 billion, according to state and federal authorities. That sum is more than...

Missouri Among Several States With Sports Betting Bills Already Filed | 12-07-2018

Missouri is among a handful of states that will consider becoming the next to legalize betting on sports, with legislation filed this past week considered among those with strong odds for success. Bills to legalize sports bets have also already...

Iowa Lawmakers May Boost Sales Tax for Outdoors | 12-07-2018

A fraction of a penny sales tax increase in Iowa that would go to environmental and outdoor recreational improvements may get a hearing from lawmakers in the Hawkeye state this year, according to legislative leaders. Iowa voters changed the state...

Budgets in Brief - December 10 2018 | 12-07-2018

CT ON PACE FOR FISCAL YEAR-END SURPLUS Higher-than-forecast income tax receipts leave CONNECTICUT on pace for a nearly $250 million budget surplus, state comptroller Kevin P. Lembo said this week in a regular monthly forecast . Lembo projected the...

Record Spending in States | 11-30-2018

Total spending across all 50 states last fiscal year exceeded $2 trillion, a new high, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers . The record spending was driven largely by a bump in income tax revenues, resulting from last year’s...

ID Cities Look to Charge New Residents for Growth | 11-30-2018

A population explosion in Ada County, Idaho is putting a strain on city services, from roads to parks to fire and police stations. So some cities in the tax-averse region are looking to do what the county’s largest city, Boise, has done before:...

Sports Betting Blows Past $500M Mark in NJ | 11-30-2018

About $260 million was wagered in New Jersey on sporting events in October, bringing the total for the four and a half months sports betting has been legal in the state to $597 million. A spokesman for FanDuel, which handles the sports book at the...

Budgets in Brief - December 3 2018 | 11-30-2018

AK FACING BIG CLIMATE-CHANGE COSTS ALASKA is facing some of the country’s most extreme climate changes, including coastal erosion and road damage, according to the federal climate report released last month. The report estimated that the climate...

Deadly Wildfires Intensify CA Insurance Crisis | 11-16-2018

As of early last week, the numerous wildfires raging in California - including the Camp Fire, the most destructive in the state’s history - had collectively burned over 280,000 acres, destroyed almost 7,000 homes and businesses, forced the evacuation...

Election Sends Mixed Signals for Transportation Funding | 11-16-2018

There were some big wins for transportation funding in this month’s election. The biggest was California voters’ rejection of Proposition 6, a GOP-backed effort to repeal the gas tax enacted by the state’s Democrat-controlled Legislature...

Amazon HQ2 Deal Better for VA Than NY? | 11-16-2018

After a year of deliberating, Amazon finally announced it has selected two locations for its second headquarters: Queens, New York and Arlington, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class...

Budgets in Brief - November 19 2018 | 11-16-2018

GA GOV PROPOSES HURRICANE RELIEF MEASURES: GEORGIA Gov. Nathan Deal (R) proposed $200 million in income tax credits last week for landowners in the southwestern part of the state who replant trees destroyed by Hurricane Michael last month. The incentive...

Voters Rejected Most Tax Measures on Ballot: | 11-09-2018

Proposed tax increases and restrictions on future tax hikes were on the ballot in several states last week. Most of them failed. Colorado voters rejected both Amendment 73 , which would have increased corporate and personal income taxes to provide...

Tax Hikes May Be on OR’s Legislative Agenda in 2019 | 11-09-2018

On Election Day Oregon voters rejected a proposition ( Measure 104 ) that would have required a three-fifths majority in both chambers of the state’s legislature to approve tax hikes, as well as other policy changes that would increase state revenues...

Budgets in Brief - November 12 2018 | 11-09-2018

GOOD ECONOMIC NEWS GOING INTO ELECTIONS Days before last Tuesday’s vote, the Labor Department reported that the typical worker’s wages went up 3.1 percent in the past year, the biggest increase in nearly a decade. Federal economists also...

OK Ballot Measure Would Mandate Oil Revenue Reinvestment | 11-02-2018

Any time oil prices take a tumble like they did last week, states with oil-reliant economies take a financial hit. Oklahoma is particularly vulnerable to such dips because it’s one of just two of the country’s oil producing states (the other...

Sports Betting ‘Gold Mine’ for NJ: | 11-02-2018

Sports betting has really taken off in New Jersey. Roughly $184 million in bets on sporting events were placed in the state in September, almost twice as much as the $96 million wagered in August. And that brings the total in the first three and a half...

Budgets in Brief - November 5 2018 | 11-02-2018

CO POT SALES BREAK $1B LEVEL EARLIER THAN EVER Combined recreational and medical marijuana sales in COLORADO topped $1 billion in August, the earliest point they’ve reached that level in the four years marijuana has been allowed for recreational...

MO Could Become 2nd State to Ban Sales Taxes on Services | 10-19-2018

Next month Arizona voters will decide whether their state will prohibit the expansion of its already limited sales taxes on services, which are currently levied only on certain software and transportation businesses. In 2016 the Missouri Association...

Privatization Aggravating Pension Problems in KY | 10-19-2018

In 2016 Western Kentucky University laid off about 200 hourly employees and then hired those individuals back to the same jobs the following day as employees of Sodexo, a private food services and facilities management contractor, offering 401(k) plans...

Budgets in Brief - October 22 2018 | 10-19-2018

CA RECEIVES NEARLY $1B REVENUE WINDFALL IN Q1 CALIFORNIA took in $990 million more in personal income tax revenues in the first three months of the current fiscal year (July 1 to Sept. 30) than projected in June. Sales tax revenues came in slightly...

Opioid Taxes Not Faring Well This Session | 10-12-2018

Minnesota state Rep. Dave Baker (R) sponsored a bill ( HB 1440 ) this session that would have imposed a “penny a pill” fee on every opioid painkiller pharmaceutical companies sold in the state to provide funding for opioid abuse prevention...

Federal Gas Tax Hasn’t Been Raised for 25 Years | 10-12-2018

Oct. 1 was the 25th anniversary of the last time Congress increased the federal gas tax, the primary source of federal funding for highway and transit projects across the country. The tax has stood at 18.4 cents per gallon for unleaded fuel and 23.4 cents...

E-Commerce Group Calls for Federal Action on Wayfair | 10-12-2018

At an informal gathering in St. Louis this month organized by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the online industry group NetChoice called for congressional action in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair...

Budgets in Brief - October 15 2018 | 10-12-2018

COST OF FIGHTING WILDFIRES SETS ANOTHER RECORD IN OR Fighting wildfires has cost OREGON a record $514.6 million in 2018. The state’s previous record of $447 million was set just last year. (ASSOCIATED PRESS) VA CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN STILL...

War With Trump Administration Costing CA Millions | 10-05-2018

The legal war California has been waging with the federal government since President Trump took office is costing the state’s taxpayers millions of dollars. The Golden State has filed more than 40 lawsuits against the Trump administration...

State’s Age Impacts Fiscal Health | 10-05-2018

The older a state is, the more likely it is to have fiscal problems. That’s one of the findings of an analysis of state fiscal health by William Bergman, director of research for Truth in Accounting, a nonprofit that advocates for transparency in...

Budgets in Brief - October 8 2018 | 10-05-2018

NJ GOV WANTS TO INVEST $500M IN START-UPS NEW JERSEY Gov. Philip Murphy (D) has proposed establishing a $500 million fund to be used for partnering with venture capitalists to invest in start-up companies, as an alternative to traditional tax incentives...

Tax Limits on November Ballot in Several States | 09-28-2018

On Nov. 6 voters in states from coast to coast will have an opportunity to restrict future efforts by their lawmakers to raise taxes. Measures on the ballot in Washington ( Initiative 1634 ) and Oregon ( Measure 37 ) would prohibit local governments...

Lawsuits Forcing States to Spend Millions on Hep C Treatment | 09-28-2018

A federal judge in Indiana ruled this month that denying or delaying treatment of prison inmates infected with hepatitis C constituted cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment. A similar ruling last...

Budgets in Brief - October 1 2018 | 09-28-2018

UBER REACHES DATA BREACH SETTLEMENT Ride-hailing company Uber agreed to pay $148 million to settle a dispute with all 50 states and the District of Columbia over its delay in disclosing a breach impacting 57 million of its drivers and riders worldwide...

SD to Finally Begin Collecting Remote Sales Taxes | 09-14-2018

Nearly three months after winning approval from the U.S. Supreme Court to collect sales taxes from out-of-state sellers that do substantial business in the state, South Dakota will finally start doing so in November. Despite the favorable SCOTUS...

Many States Ready to Weather Next ‘Rainy Day’ | 09-14-2018

A slight majority of states are better prepared for a recession than they were when the last one hit. Over the past seven years, the median state rainy day fund balance has risen from 1.9 percent of fund expenditures to 5.8 percent, topping the pre-recession...

Boom in Energy States May be Helping Drive National Economy | 09-14-2018

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, America’s GDP grew by 4.2 percent between the first quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of this year, the highest quarterly rate since 2014. And an energy boom, fueled by higher oil and gas prices...

Budgets in Brief - September 17 2018 | 09-14-2018

SPORTS BETTING OFF TO GOOD START IN MS Gamblers bet $9.8 million dollars on sporting events at state-regulated gambling halls in MISSISSIPPI in the first 34 days of legalized sports wagering in the state. Mississippi is one of four states - the others...

Other Options for States on SALT Cap | 09-07-2018

After the state and local tax (SALT) deduction was capped at $10,000 as part of the federal tax overhaul last December, high-tax states immediately began looking for ways for their residents to avoid a big bump in their federal tax burdens. Connecticut...

‘Lockbox’ Measures Little Help With Long-Term Transportation Funding | 09-07-2018

In November Connecticut voters will consider the Connecticut Transportation Revenue Lockbox Amendment, which would bar lawmakers from using the state’s transportation fund for non-transportation-related purposes. If the ballot measure is approved...

Budgets in Brief - September 10 2018 | 09-07-2018

STATES AWARDED MILLIONS IN ACA LAWSUIT A federal court in TEXAS ruled that the federal government improperly charged several states millions of dollars in state Medicaid fees that provide funding for the Affordable Care Act. Under the terms of the...

CA Failing to Spend Millionaires’ Tax Dollars on Mental Health | 08-31-2018

In 2004 California voters approved Proposition 63, imposing a tax on residents with annual earnings of $1 million or more to help counties provide services for the mentally ill. Nearly 15 years later, a huge sum of the money generated by the Mental Health...

States Sitting on Budget Surpluses | 08-31-2018

Thanks to an expanding national economy, many state governments are flush with cash. Virginia ended its 2018 fiscal year on June 30 with a $551 million budget surplus. Ohio ended last fiscal year with a $657 billion budget surplus. And California is projecting...