Budget & Taxes

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. ...

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...