Budget & Taxes

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...

Budgets in Brief - September 3 2018 | 08-31-2018

ND EXPECTED TO TAKE $4.9M HIT FROM FEDERAL TAX REFORM As a result of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, NORTH DAKOTA will take in $4.9 million less in state income taxes in the two-year budget cycle that ends June 30, 2019, according to analysis by...

CA Property Tax Battle Shaping Up for 2020 | 08-17-2018

In 1978 California voters approved Proposition 13, which, among other things, capped property taxes at 1 percent of market value and limited property tax increases to 2 percent per year. The changes to the state’s tax system were dramatic, and they’ve...

WI Trying New Bridge Replacement Program | 08-17-2018

For years, a lack of state funding has forced delays of bridge replacement projects in Wisconsin. But the state’s Department of Transportation, or WisDOT, has launched a new program to address that problem. Under the program, called “Replace...

Budgets in Brief - August 20 2018 | 08-17-2018

SPORTS BETTING OFF AND RUNNING IN NJ Three casinos and two racetracks allowing sports betting in NEW JERSEY took in $40.6 million in such wagering in July, the first full month it has been legal. Since the state initially began allowing sports gambling...

Push for Supermajority Tax Requirement in FL May Not Curb Taxes | 08-03-2018

In March, Florida lawmakers approved a proposed constitutional amendment for the state’s November ballot that would require a two-thirds majority in each chamber of the Legislature to enact new taxes or fees, or hikes of existing ones. As the election...

‘Sin Taxes’ Unreliable Revenue Source for States | 08-03-2018

Since 2000, nearly every state has significantly raised taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products, according to data compiled by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids . Recent years have also seen a steady stream of casino openings in states around the...

Budgets in Brief - August 6 2018 | 08-03-2018

ONLINE SALES TAX PLAN FAILS IN NH In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair , allowing states to collect sales taxes from online sellers located out-of-state, the NEW HAMPSHIRE Senate, meeting in special session...

Blue States Sue Trump Administration Over SALT Limit | 07-20-2018

Four mostly Democrat-governed, northeastern states - Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and New York - are suing the Trump administration over the $10,000 cap on the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes included in the federal tax overhaul enacted...

PA Casinos Swarm for Interactive Gaming Licenses | 07-20-2018

Nine of Pennsylvania’s 13 casinos applied for iGaming licenses from the state’s Gaming Control Board this month. Those licenses, authorized by the gaming law passed by the state last year, will allow casinos to offer three interactive gaming...

Budgets in Brief - July 23 2018 | 07-20-2018

CO TO EXCEED TABOR REVENUE CAP IN COMING YEARS Despite the passage of a bill last year ( SB 267 ) exempting a state hospital fee from the revenue cap imposed by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) initiative approved by voters in 1992, COLORADO...

Some State, Local Bond Issuers Going ‘Green’ | 07-13-2018

A growing number of states and municipalities are going “green” with their bond sales. Developed about a decade ago to allow environmentally conscious investors to identify investments aligned with that priority, green bonds have become a...

Pharma Sues to Block NY Opioid Fee | 07-13-2018

The Healthcare Distribution Alliance, a national trade group that represents national, regional and specialty drug distributors, has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block New York’s new $100 million annual surcharge on opioid manufacturers and...

Budgets in Brief - July 16 2018 | 07-13-2018

TRUCKING INDUSTRY SUES RI OVER NEW TOLL SYSTEM The American Trucking Association and three companies - MASSACHUSETTS -based, convenience-store chain Cumberland Farms; MASSACHUSETTS -based cargo carrier M&M Transport Services; and NEW JERSEY -based...

SCOTUS Ruling Against Public Unions May Not Lower States’ Labor Costs | 07-06-2018

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that public-sector workers who aren’t union members don’t have to contribute to unions’ collective bargaining efforts. The 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME will likely further erode union membership...

KY Cuts Medicaid Benefits After Work Requirement Blocked | 07-06-2018

In January Kentucky became the first state to receive federal approval to impose a work requirement for Medicaid . But last month a federal judge blocked that plan, called Kentucky HEALTH. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services...

Budgets in Brief - July 9 2018 | 07-06-2018

U.S. HOUSE AND SENATE PASS FARM BILLS The U.S. Senate passed an $867 billion farm bill last month, a week after the House passed its own version. The two chambers will now have until Sept. 30 to resolve the points of contention between the two bills...

Questions Remain After SCOTUS Online Sales Tax Ruling | 06-29-2018

On June 21 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. that online retailers can be required to collect sales taxes in states where they don’t have a physical presence. The 5-4 decision reversed the court’s 1992 ruling in...

Budgets in Brief - July 2 2018 | 06-29-2018

GAS TAX REPEAL INITIATIVE ON CA BALLOT An initiative to repeal the gas tax hike and new vehicle registration fees approved by CALIFORNIA’s Democrat-controlled Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) last year to pay for road and highway repairs...