Budget & Taxes

State Spending Up in FY 2017 | 11-17-2017

State spending grew by 5.2 percent in fiscal year 2017, according to a new report from the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO). That rate is more than double the rate in fiscal 2016, when spending was held down by declines in the growth...

Some Wondering How CA Will Pay for Free Community College | 11-17-2017

When California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed AB 19 , the California College Promise, waiving the first year of fees for all first-time, full-time students at the state’s community colleges, into law last month supporters sang the measure’s...

CT to Benefit from Defense Bill | 11-17-2017

Despite recent evidence to the contrary , the U.S. Congress does appear capable of passing substantive legislation - and with relative ease. After just a few weeks of negotiations by leaders of the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services committees, the...

Budgets in Brief - November 20 2017 | 11-17-2017

US HOUSE PASSES TAX PLAN: The U.S. House passed its version of the GOP tax overhaul last week on a 227 to 205 vote, with none of the chamber’s Democrats supporting the plan and 13 Republicans opposing it. But passage of the Senate version isn’t...

US Senate Tax Plan Differs from House Version | 11-10-2017

U.S. Senate Republicans outlined their plan for overhauling the federal tax code last week. And it differs substantially from the plan advancing in the U.S. House, highlighting the competing pressures GOP leaders are facing in their respective chambers...

Global Warming Could Make Air Conditioning Legal Requirement for Prisons | 11-10-2017

Across the nation, prison inmates or their families have been suing states for the heat conditions in their un-air-conditioned cells that they say violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. States have argued...

Cybercriminals Target IA Pension Benefits | 11-10-2017

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen from accounts in the Iowa Public Employee’s Retirement System (IPERS) last month, according to a statement from the state’s largest public employee pension fund, which provides pensions to 115,000...

Budgets in Brief - November 13 2017 | 11-10-2017

FL REPUBLICANS SEEK TO MAKE IT HARDER TO RAISE TAXES: On a party-line vote, FLORIDA’s GOP-led House Ways & Means Committee approved a proposal that would ask voters next year to pass a constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds supermajority...

Death of State Death Taxes | 11-03-2017

In 2000, every state in the nation imposed an estate tax or inheritance tax, otherwise known as “death taxes.” Now just 19 states do. And Delaware and New Jersey will eliminate their estate taxes next year. The repeal trend began after...

WV Investment Performance Tops States | 11-03-2017

The 2016-17 budget year was a good one for West Virginia’s investment portfolio, about 81 percent of which supports the state’s pension funds. The state’s portfolio grew 15.8 percent. “As far as I know, we’re the best...

Budgets in Brief - November 6 2017 | 11-03-2017

US HOUSE PROPOSES TAX PLAN ELIMINATING SALT DEDUCTION: The draft tax bill (HR 1) released by the U.S. House last week, as previously reported it might , calls for elimination of the federal deductions for state and local income and sales taxes, often...

Many States ‘Substantially Unprepared’ For Next Recession | 10-20-2017

With over eight years having passed since the end of the Great Recession, the third longest period of economic expansion in U.S. history, the next downturn could come at any time. But many states aren’t well prepared for it, according to a report...

Cities Vie To Be Second Home For Amazon | 10-20-2017

With over 50,000 high-paying jobs, billions of dollars in direct investment and millions in associated economic activity at stake, cities across the country are vying to be the future home of Amazon’s second headquarters in North America. And with...

Budgets In Brief - October 23 2017 | 10-20-2017

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FREES UP CHIP MONEY FOR FIVE STATES Since Congress failed to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), providing health care for children from low-income families that don’t qualify for Medicaid, the Trump...

Hurricane Harvey Big Short-Term Blow to TX Budget: | 10-13-2017

Texas state Comptroller Glenn Hegar (R) said last week that the cost of responding to Hurricane Harvey, including dispatching first responders, repairing roads and aiding affected schools, could reach $2 billion in the current two-year budget cycle. ...

IL County Repeals Soda Tax | 10-13-2017

Last week, facing strong public opposition to the penny-an-ounce tax on soda and other sweetened beverages imposed in Chicago a little over two months ago, the Cook County Board voted 15-2 to repeal it, effective Dec. 1. The vote marked another...

Budgets In Brief - October 16 2017 | 10-13-2017

NY NEEDS $27B FOR BRIDGE REPAIRS NEW YORK state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (D) said the state needs $27 billion to repair hundreds of locally owned bridges in the state. Nearly 13 percent of the roughly 8,500 bridges owned by local governments are...

Congressional Republicans Reconsidering Scrapping State And Local Tax Deduction | 10-06-2017

The tax overhaul outlined by President Trump and GOP congressional leaders last month proposed doing away with the federal tax deduction for state and local tax payments to help offset the business and individual tax cuts included in the plan. But congressional...

Trump Signals Change of Course On Transportation Funding | 10-06-2017

In May the White House released a framework for President Trump’s promised $1 trillion infrastructure investment plan calling for an outlay of $200 billion in federal funding to “incentivize additional non-Federal funding,” including...

Budgets In Brief - October 9 2017 | 10-06-2017

POT LEGALIZATION EXPANDING PUBLIC PAYROLL IN CA With recreational marijuana becoming legal in CALIFORNIA in 2018, the state is in the process of hiring hundreds of new government employees to help oversee the industry, including environmental scientists...

Trump And GOP Congressional Leaders Propose Sweeping Tax Plan | 09-29-2017

Last week President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders outlined their plan for a sweeping overhaul of the federal tax code. While many details of the plan still have to be worked out, it currently calls for a 4.6 percent reduction in the...

Congressional Action On Remote Sales Taxes Likely On Hold | 09-29-2017

There are currently three bills dealing with the collection of sales taxes from out-of-state sellers pending in Congress: the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2017 (SB 976) and the Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2017 (HR 2193) , both of which would allow...

Hartford Headed For Bankruptcy? | 09-29-2017

Last week Standard & Poor’s lowered the bond rating for Hartford, Connecticut from B- to CCC, a four-grade drop. That news was bad enough, particularly coming after another four-grade drop in the city’s rating, from BB to B-, less than...

Budgets In Brief - October 2 2017 | 09-29-2017

BIG DISPARITIES IN ECONOMIC RECOVERY BETWEEN US ZIP CODES Fifty-two percent of the new jobs created in the first few years of the recovery from the Great Recession came in the 20 percent of U.S. ZIP codes that were already among the most prosperous...

Late State Budgets on Rise | 09-15-2017

Over the past few years, late state budgets have become increasingly common. In 2013 five states had to call special sessions to pass their FY 2014 budgets, although all five managed to do so before the 2014 fiscal year actually began. But 11 states started...

States Backing Tax Amnesty Program for Online Sellers | 09-15-2017

Twenty-four states are participating in a tax amnesty program for online sellers that contract with “marketplace facilitators” to expand their sales but that have failed to pay sales taxes on the associated transactions. Small businesses...

Budgets In Brief - September 18 2017 | 09-15-2017

OK GOV TO CALL SPECIAL SESSION TO FIX BUDGET: OKLAHOMA Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said she will ask lawmakers to convene a special session on Sept. 25 to make adjustments to the budget after the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected a proposed cigarette tax. The...

MN Slows Rise of Health Insurance Premiums | 09-08-2017

Last year, after Blue Cross announced it was pulling out of Minnesota’s individual health insurance market and the state’s Commerce Department revealed that the remaining insurers were planning to increase their premiums by 50 percent or more...

Audit Reveals TX Ag Agency Charged Higher Fees Than Necessary | 09-08-2017

In January of last year Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R) significantly raised fees - by hundreds of dollars in many cases and more than doubling them in some - for a range of services the Department of Agriculture provides, maintaining that...

Budgets In Brief - September 11 2017 | 09-08-2017

TRUMP SIDES WITH DEMS ON DEBT-CEILING EXTENSION President Trump aligned with Democratic U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on a plan to raise the federal debt ceiling...

Some States Don’t Want Big Changes to NAFTA | 09-01-2017

On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump said repeatedly that the North American Free Trade Agreement - initiated in 1994 with the aim of reducing trade barriers between the United States, Canada and Mexico - has been bad for American companies and...

Seattle Officials Weigh Taxing Foreign Home Buyers | 09-01-2017

Last August British Columbia began imposing a 15 percent tax on the sale of homes in Vancouver to foreign buyers. Starting this year, owners of vacant homes in that city will also have to pay a tax in the amount of 1 percent of their homes’ value...

Budgets In Brief - September 4 2017 | 09-01-2017

IL APPROVES EDUCATION FUNDING REFORM ILLINOIS lawmakers passed legislation last week overhauling the way state money is distributed to local school districts to ensure that more funding goes to poorer schools. Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) was expected to...

‘Symbolic’ State Travel Bans Have Real Cost | 08-18-2017

Six states - California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington - recently banned nonessential travel by public employees to states that have passed laws that officials in the six states say discriminate against the LGBT community. All...

TX Digging Multi-Billion Dollar Budget Hole | 08-18-2017

During the regular session, Texas lawmakers balanced the state’s 2018-19 budget in part through one time measures and funding shifts - including setting aside $2 billion less than required for Medicaid and deferring funding for transportation -...

Budgets In Brief - August 21 2017 | 08-18-2017

CA LAWMAKERS CONSIDERING BILLIONS IN SPENDIND PROPOSALS CALIFORNIANS could vote on billions of dollars in new spending for low-income housing, water projects and parks improvements next year if Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and state lawmakers approve several...

Self-Driving Cars Could Be Costly for Cities | 08-11-2017

Not long from now, fleets of self-driving cars could be transporting passengers all over America’s cities. The resulting reduction in the need for privately owned vehicles poses a significant problem for those cities’ governments. “Municipalities...

Budgets In Brief - August 14 2017 | 08-11-2017

LOTTERY REVENUES DOWN IN NM Lottery proceeds for the 2017 fiscal year in NEW MEXICO were down $8.5 million, or about 18 percent, from last fiscal year. The decline is believed to be due in part to a reduction in prize payouts resulting from legislative...

Ed Bill Squabble Threatens IL District Cash Flow | 08-04-2017

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s (R) veto of the state’s school funding package has some districts worried about having enough cash to open classroom doors in the fall, and a major ratings agency warning about some school districts’ credit...

CT Freezes Employee Wages | 08-04-2017

Major changes to the state employee pay and benefit package squeaked through the Connecticut Senate this week, with Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman (D) breaking an 18-18 tie vote to advance the measure, which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (D) has lauded as vital to reducing...

Budgets In Brief - August 7 2017 | 08-04-2017

NEW JERSEY EMPLOYEES TO GET BACK PAY State workers in NEW JERSEY will get back pay for time off they had to take during the state’s government shutdown last month. Gov. Chris Christie (R) signed legislation this week authorizing retroactive pay...

Baker Signs $39 Billion MA Budget | 07-21-2017

More than two weeks into the 2018 fiscal year, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed a $39.43 billion budget on Monday that increases spending by 1.7 percent over last year. Baker also vetoed $320 million from the budget bill lawmakers sent him...

IL Playing Catch Up On Debts | 07-21-2017

Saying “It’s not like we won the Lotto,” Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza warned that after almost three years without a budget it is going to take some time to eliminate the state’s nearly $14.5 billion debt backlog....

Budgets In Brief - July 24 2017 | 07-21-2017

AK REACHES OIL TAX DEAL The ALASKA House and Senate reached agreement on a deal ( HB 111 ) to stop giving cash payments to oil companies covering 35 percent of losses incurred developing new Last Frontier oil fields. The policy was originally adopted...

Budget Stalemate Ends With Big Tax Hike In IL | 07-14-2017

Illinois ended its record-setting budget impasse this month - after going 736 days without a spending plan - with a flourish. On May 23 the state’s Democrat-led Senate passed a budget package that included SB 9 , which among other things,...

States Face Increasing Demand For In-Home Health Care | 07-14-2017

With more and more baby boomers reaching retirement age and many of them wishing to remain in their homes as they age, pressure is being placed on states to provide more home-based health care. “The trend is shifting at every level to care...

Immigrants Boost State And Local Revenues Over Long Term | 07-14-2017

Two new studies, one by the Urban Institute and another by the National Academies of Science , indicate that first-generation immigrants to the United States cost state and local governments more than native-born Americans, $3,000 more per adult on average...

UT Cities Rely On Fees Instead Of Taxes | 07-14-2017

When Utah cities need more money to balance their budgets, they raise the fees they charge for water, sewage and other services managed through “enterprise funds” and divert some of the proceeds into their general funds instead of raising...

Budgets In Brief - July 17 2017 | 07-14-2017

IL TAX HIKE WILL IMPACT WI The tax increase that finally allowed ILLINOIS to pass a state budget this month will cost neighboring WISCONSIN , which is facing its own budget impasse, $51 million, according to the state’s nonpartisan Legislative...

Budgets Late In Many States | 07-07-2017

Ten states started the 2018 fiscal year on July 1 without a budget in place, according to the Tax Foundation. A partial government shutdown in one of those states, Maine, ended on the 4th of July when Gov. Paul LePage (R) signed a budget compromise eliminating...