Budget & Taxes

KS Eying Healthcare Cost Controls | 09-20-2019

A special committee in Kansas is looking into ways to control the rising cost of healthcare in the state. This month the members of the House and Senate Special Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance got a crash course on healthcare cost control...

Most States Charge Jail Inmates Room and Board | 09-20-2019

Brown County, Wisconsin is one of at least 23 counties in the state that charge jail inmates room and board for the time that they’re incarcerated. But Wisconsin isn’t alone. At least 40 states charge such “pay-to-stay” fees, although...

Budgets in Brief - September 23 2019 | 09-20-2019

TN PROPOSES SWITCH TO MEDICAID BLOCK GRANT FUNDING TENNESSEE unveiled a plan last week that would fund its Medicaid program through a federal block grant, limiting how much is spent on the program instead of paying for whomever enrolls, which is the...

Experts Say NJ All Wrong on Business Tax Incentives | 09-13-2019

New Jersey senators who convened a hearing this month to try to figure out what’s wrong with the state’s scandal-ridden business tax incentive program -- which expired at the end of June and Gov. Phil Murphy (D) refused to extend last month...

States Launch Antitrust Investigation of Google | 09-13-2019

The attorneys general of every state but Alabama and California have officially launched an antitrust investigation of Google. Standing on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court along with officials from 11 other states and the District of Columbia...

Budgets in Brief - September 16 2019 | 09-13-2019

NJ FACING BIG PUBLIC PENSION HIT NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) decision to phase in a reduction in the public pension system’s expected rate of return from 7.6 percent to 7 percent, which former Gov. Chris Christie (R) made just before...

MN Facing Labor Market Slowdown | 09-06-2019

Minnesota’s labor market is in pretty good shape right now. The state’s unemployment rate is hovering around 3.4 percent. And with nearly 70 percent of working-age residents employed or looking for jobs, employers have a decent labor pool...

Budgets in Brief - September 9 2019 | 09-06-2019

FEDERAL RULE COULD END FOOD ASSISTANCE FOR 33,000 IN CO A newly proposed federal rule would cut off food assistance for 33,000 COLORADO residents, including about 11,000 children. The state currently allows those earning up to twice the federal poverty...

AZ Could Make Cities Pay for Increasing Minimum Wage | 08-30-2019

During the final week of this year’s legislative session in Arizona, state lawmakers passed a bill ( HB 2756 ) that, among other things, will require the state to calculate the additional state cost of any minimum wage increase above the state rate...

Thousands of 2018 Hurricane Insurance Claims Still Unsettled in FL | 08-30-2019

It’s been 10 months since Hurricane Michael slammed Florida’s Panhandle in October 2018. But more than 20,000 insurance claims from residential property owners - about 14 percent of the total number filed - remain open. That rate is...

Budgets in Brief - September 3 2019 | 08-30-2019

MN, NC MAY BE IN RECESSION MINNESOTA and NORTH CAROLINA may be in a recession, according to research indicating that when a state’s unemployment rate rises by at least 0.4 percentage points above its lowest rate in the preceding 12 months, there’s...

Taxes and Fees Could Bust Chicago Casino Before It Starts | 08-15-2019

Chicago’s play for a casino authorized by a new state law may be a bust because of its onerous tax and fee setup. Legislation signed into law in June by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) authorized a Chicago casino, which was sought by local...

Lawsuits, Storms Lead To NC DOT Layoffs | 08-15-2019

North Carolina Department of Transportation Chief Operating Officer Bobby Lewis said last week that the agency will lay off hundreds of transportation department workers in response to the states struggles to pay lawsuit settlements and extraordinary...

Budgets in Brief - August 19 2019 | 08-15-2019

MICHIGAN MAY NEED STOPGAP BUDGET BILL MICHIGAN Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) may propose a stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, but says she will continue to push for the infrastructure spending that has led to a budget impasse in the...

Payday Lenders Shift to Auto Title Loans in AZ | 08-09-2019

In 2008, Arizona voters overwhelmingly endorsed Proposition 200, which banned the practice of providing short-term, high-interest loans known as payday lending. But according to a report released this month by the Center for Economic Integrity in Tucson...

Lobbying Boom in CA | 08-09-2019

In the first six months of California Gavin Newsom’s (D) new administration, companies, associations, unions and other organizations spent $187 million to influence policy and legislation in the state. Adjusted for inflation, that sum is 12 percent...

Budgets in Brief - August 12 2019 | 08-09-2019

GA GOV ORDERS SWEEPING BUDGET CUTS GEORGIA Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has ordered all state agencies to cut their budgets by 4 percent this year and 6 percent next year. State agencies haven’t received such an order since the Great Recession. (WSB-TV...

Equifax Agrees to Record Data Breach Settlement | 08-02-2019

Equifax has agreed to pay at least $650 million to settle claims originating from its massive 2017 data breach. A large chunk of that money, $300 million, will go toward claims from any of the 147 million-plus consumers - nearly half the U.S. population...

Texas Cities Take Fiscal Hit in 2019 State Legislative Session | 08-02-2019

This year’s legislative session in Texas could turn out to be a costly one for the state’s major cities. One of the bills state lawmakers passed, SB 2 , will require cities, counties and other taxing units to obtain voter approval before levying...

Budgets in Brief - August 5 2019 | 08-02-2019

MD TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION FACING BIG SHORTFALL The MARYLAND Transit Administration says it is facing a $2 billion-plus funding shortfall over the next decade. The agency also said it will need to spend $5.7 billion between now and 2028 to address the...

CA Lures Doctors with Loan Forgiveness | 07-19-2019

This month California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced the state would be paying off $10.5 million in school loan debt for 40 dentists and $58.6 million in school loans for 247 doctors. The debt relief, provided through a loan repayment program established...

NY Real Estate Industry Files Suit Over New Rental Laws | 07-19-2019

New York’s politically influential real estate industry suffered a surprising defeat last month when Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed SB 6458 , which among other things closed loopholes in the state’s rental laws that allowed building owners to...

Budgets in Brief - July 22 2019 | 07-19-2019

NJ JOINS LAWSUIT AGAINST IRS NEW JERSEY has joined CONNECTICUT and NEW YORK in a lawsuit challenging a new IRS rule barring taxpayers from circumventing the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions imposed by the GOP-engineered federal tax overhaul...

CA Provides Health Insurance to Young Undocumented Residents | 07-12-2019

California became the first state to provide healthcare coverage to adult undocumented residents when Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation last week making those between the ages of 19 and 25 eligible for the state’s Medicaid program. (Children...

Sea Level Rise Poses Major Economic Threat in CA | 07-12-2019

Earthquakes and wildfires are probably the environmental hazards Californians worry about most. But by the end of the century, another threat may be keeping residents awake at night: rising sea levels. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey...

Budgets in Brief - July 15 2019 | 07-12-2019

HI GOV VETOES VACATION RENTAL TAX BILL HAWAII Gov. David Ige (D) vetoed a bill ( SB 1292 ) that would have required websites like Airbnb to collect and remit taxes on behalf of vacation rental “hosts.” The governor said he was concerned...

Moody’s Slams Seven States for Failing to Pass Budget | 07-08-2019

Seven states suffer from weak governance, according to a report released last week by credit-rating agency Moody’s Investor Service. What earned those states - Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin...

Study Suggests Simple Way for Coastal Towns to Save Money | 07-08-2019

A study released this month found that the town of North Topsail Beach, located on an island off North Carolina’s southeastern coast, could save $57.6 million over the next 30 years by buying 347 properties at risk of damage from storm surges, flooding...

Budgets in Brief - July 8 2019 | 07-08-2019

TAXPAYER DOLLARS USED TO BLOCK VOTER APPROVED CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW IN MO Attorneys representing the Association of Missouri Electrical Cooperatives (AMEC) and the American Democracy Alliance, a 501(c) group, received $508,000 in MISSOURI taxpayer dollars...

FL City Agrees to Pay Big Cyber Ransom | 06-28-2019

On May 29 Riviera Beach, Florida, a city of roughly 35,000 people near West Palm Beach was hit by a ransomware attack that took down all of the city’s computer networks, along with its water utility pump stations. “Anything that was...

Honolulu Approves Tough New Laws on Vacation Rentals | 06-28-2019

Honolulu’s City Council passed a pair of bills that will impose some of the toughest regulations on the island of Oahu’s vacation rental industry in decades. Bill 89, approved unanimously, will allow the permitting of as many as 1,715...

Budgets in Brief - July 1 2019 | 06-28-2019

NJ GOV AGAIN FAILS TO OBTAIN PASSAGE OF MILLIONAIRE’S TAX For the second year in a row, NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has failed to get a tax on the state’s top earners through the state’s Legislature, controlled by lawmakers of...

VT Asks Localities to Foot Bill for Rural Cell Service | 06-14-2019

Last year Vermont cancelled a contract with cell phone service provider CoverageCo, after the company failed to earn a profit or cover its expenses on a rollout of microcell technology in rural parts of the state. Now, with $4 million in microcell equipment...

Budgets in Brief - June 17 2019 | 06-14-2019

NYC EYEING ASSISTANCE FOR STRUGGLING TAXI DRIVERS New York City is considering eliminating up to $10 million in fees on taxi drivers. The proposal is part of several initiatives aimed at helping drivers struggling with debt after taking out loans to...

IL Nursing Homes Could Soon Face Fines for Understaffing | 06-07-2019

Nursing homes in Illinois have been among the most understaffed in the nation, according to an investigation last year by Kaiser Health News and the Chicago Tribune . But that could change as a result of legislation passed by state lawmakers this month...

OR Lawmakers Considering Business Tax Break for Farmers | 06-07-2019

A bipartisan group of Oregon lawmakers has proposed a general exemption for agricultural businesses from the multibillion-dollar business tax and education spending law signed by Gov. Kate Brown (D) last month. HB 3445 would exempt sales of “agricultural...

Budgets in Brief - June 10 2019 | 06-07-2019

IL LAWMAKERS PASS REVENUE GENERATING MEASURES In overtime after the scheduled adjournment of their regular session on May 31, ILLINOIS lawmakers passed legislation that among other things would allow a casino in Chicago, double the state’s motor...

How Will State and Local Govts Use Opioid Settlement Money? | 05-31-2019

This month Oklahoma and West Virginia became the first two states to reach legal settlements with drug companies over their role in the opioid crisis. Together the states will receive almost $300 million as a result of those agreements. With hundreds...

Asylum-Seekers Stretch City, State Budgets | 05-31-2019

Since 2017 over 55,000 people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have come to the United States seeking asylum. That flood of new immigrants is stretching the resources of city and state governments - particularly those in California, Florida, Maryland...

Budgets in Brief - June 3 2019 | 05-31-2019

SOME CT TOWNS BLOCKING AFFORDABLE HOUSING Dozens of wealthy towns in CONNECTICUT have blocked the construction of low-income housing within their borders for the past two decades. The percentage of low-income housing has actually declined somewhat...

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. ...