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Tax Law

State Net Capitol Journal – July 13, 2015; Another Tall Transportation Order For California

Budget & Taxes

Another Tall Transportation Order For CA

When it comes to the issue of transportation, California Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) main focus - beginning with his first pass through the governor’s office a generation ago - has been the often-tough sell of a bullet train connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco. The current price tag for that project: $68 billion.

Brown, however, now has another major transportation task on his hands, with the state’s roads and freeways -- the legacy of Brown’s father, former Gov. Edmund G. “Pat” Brown -- badly in need of repair after years of neglect. The estimated cost for that: $59 billion.

Adding to the governor’s challenge is the fact that the financial landscape for transportation is much different than it was in the 1950s and ‘60s when Pat Brown was governor and the state was flush with cash from the federal Highway Trust Fund. Now that fund is running on empty, thanks to its dependence on the federal gas tax, a diminishing resource with the increasing fuel-efficiency of modern vehicles.

“Jerry has to address a tougher issue politically,” said Ethan Rarick, director of the Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service at the University of California, Berkeley.

Still, there’s reportedly potential for consensus on the issue at the state Capitol. Even tax-averse groups say they’re willing to discuss new fees or higher gas levies for roads.

“As long as the money goes to transportation,” business interests will consider it, said Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable, which represents most of the state’s largest companies.

Brown recently called a special legislative session to weigh the state’s options.

“Everything is on the table,” he said when he made the announcement. “I don’t know if you’ve seen my table. It’s a very big table.” (LOS ANGELES TIMES)

Chase Agrees To $130M Multi-State Settlement

Ohio AG Mike DeWine announced last week that credit-card giant Chase has agreed to a $136 million settlement with the state and 46 other states over its debt-collection practices.

The settlement comes in connection with an investigation that revealed Chase sued and obtained judgments against customers based on inaccurate information about their credit-card debts, in some cases using documents signed without the signer’s knowledge.

As part of the settlement, Chase agreed to cease collection efforts aimed at 528,000 consumers across the country, enact safeguards to help ensure its debt information is accurate and stop selling debt to other entities.

 “As a result of this settlement, Chase customers will be less likely to be sued for a debt they don’t owe or receive third-party collection calls for a debt they already paid off,” DeWine said.

Chase also seemed satisfied with the settlement, issuing a statement that said: “We are pleased to resolve these legacy issues and are working to complete our remediation of affected credit card customers.” (PLAIN DEALER [CLEVELAND])

Budgets In Brief - July 13 2015

VT Soft Drink Tax In Effect: A new 6 percent tax on soft drinks took effect in VERMONT on July 1. The tax was part of a $30-million package approved by the state Legislature in May to help close a $113 million budget gap (BURLINGTON FREE PRESS). * KS  Passes PERS Bond: The KANSAS State Finance Council, comprised of Gov. Sam Brownback (R) and state legislative leaders, passed a resolution this month authorizing the Kansas Development Finance Authority to issue $1 billion in bonds to shore up the state’s Public Employees Retirement System. Rebecca Floyd, general counsel for the KDFA, said it should take about six weeks to complete the steps required to issue those bonds (LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD, LEXISNEXIS STATE NET). * CA Water Crisis: CALIFORNIA residents’ water bills are going up despite conservation measures they’ve been taking. The 8- to 36-percent cuts the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has ordered because of the drought are expected to leave state water departments with a $1 billion hole in revenue, and they’re turning to customers to fill it (ASSOCIATED PRESS). * ME Budget Moves Forward: MAINE lawmakers overrode Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) veto of a $6.7 billion, two-year budget and also approved $100 million in bonds for transportation and housing projects (PORTLAND PRESS HERALD, LEXISNEXIS STATE NET).

- Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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