Norton Francis

BIO
Norton Francis is a Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute State and Local Finance Initiative. He concentrates on state revenue and tax policy. Twitter: @staterevenue


How Would the Kansas Senate Close the State’s Budget Gap? Mostly by Taxing Poor People

By :: June 12th, 2015

Kansas is grappling with a self-inflicted budget crisis. In 2012 and 2013, the state decided to experiment with major income tax cuts and an exemption of most small business and partnership income aimed at boosting the economy. The experiment is not going well to say the least. Now, faced with a serious budget gap and […]

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Bobby Jindal’s Revenue Enhancements

By :: March 23rd, 2015

Politicians looking to “enhance revenue” without raising taxes might want to take a close look at Louisiana, where Governor Bobby Jindal may have found the promised land of conservative tax policy. He’s promoting a plan to raise $526 million without a tax increase. His trick: Turn refundable business credits into non-refundable credits. With a refundable […]

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State Revenue Growth Will Remain Sluggish

By :: February 16th, 2015

State forecasters expect revenue growth to remain sluggish through fiscal year (FY) 2016 according to an Urban Institute analysis of agency reports. In FY17, states project revenue growth will return to its average post-2000 rate but remain significantly below its long term average. These state estimates are not adjusted for inflation. Using CBO’s forecast of […]

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Oklahoma Pulls the Trigger on an Unaffordable Tax Cut

By :: January 5th, 2015

Increasingly, states are tying tax cuts to revenue targets. It sounds reasonable enough: If a state collects more tax than it needs to fund government in a future year, rates automatically go down. But such tax triggers open the door to shameless budget gimmickry. The latest poster child for this is Oklahoma, which enacted a […]

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What Falling Oil Prices Will Mean for State Budgets

By :: November 25th, 2014

Oil prices are dropping…fast. This may be good news for drivers but not so good for a handful of states that use energy tax revenue to help fund their budgets. It may be especially challenging for states that rely on taxes from production of shale oil that uses methods that may be practical only at […]

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How Michigan Blocked a $1 Billion Tax Windfall for Corporations

By :: September 15th, 2014

For all the talk of political gridlock, it is amazing how quickly a state legislature can act when $1 billion in unexpected corporate tax refunds are at stake. The lawmakers are in Michigan. And their pistons were fired up following an unfavorable state Supreme Court decision in a lawsuit brought by IBM. The case involved the […]

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State Taxes and the April Surprise

By :: July 22nd, 2014

In recent months, several governors have complained about the April, 2014, surprise in state tax revenues. They say they were shocked when personal income tax payments fell far below expectations. They shouldn’t have been. What happened? In part, in an effort to beat an upcoming increase in capital gains taxes, investors accelerated realizations into tax […]

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Ohio Lawmakers Turn A Surprise Surplus Into A Huge Tax Cut

By :: June 10th, 2014

What does a state do when faced with a 14 percent decline in income tax collections, much of it due to past tax cuts? Why, it cuts taxes even more—especially when that fall in revenues is lower than expected and—combined with lower spending — results in a surprising $700 million budget surplus. That seems to […]

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Camp Tax Reform Would Create New Challenges for States

By :: March 3rd, 2014

House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp’s recent tax reform plan would raise the cost of doing business for many state and local governments. Camp would repeal the deductibility of state and local taxes, including both property taxes and income taxes. He’d abolish tax-exempt private activity bonds. And he’d impose a 10 percent surtax on municipal […]

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Federal Job Cuts Are Not Just Biting Inside the Beltway

By :: February 3rd, 2014

Government employment is down again. But while cuts in state and local jobs drove the decline in 2011 and 2012, the federal government is the culprit now. The federal workforce has decreased about 3 percent, or 75,000 positions, from last year. That’s in sharp contrast to the slightly positive growth (0.3 percent) for the state […]

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