Topic: State & Local Issues

One Solution to California’s Drought: Tax Water

By :: April 7th, 2015

The idea is straight out of Economics 101: If you want people to do less of something, raise the price. And California desperately needs its residents and businesses to use less water. So rather than trying to curb water use through a complex maze of regulation, why not just raise the price though a new […]

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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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What Will Next Week’s State Ballot Measures Tell Us About Taxes?

By :: October 31st, 2014

While most national attention is focused on which party will control the Senate and who will win the 36 gubernatorial races, many states also have fiscal initiatives on their ballots. And a few may provide some clues to how the public feels about the trade-off between taxes and government services. Many of the 16 tax-related […]

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Bertha and the French Professor: Lessons for Public Private Partnerships

By :: October 21st, 2014

Jean Tirole is an influential, respected, and by all accounts gracious man who won this year’s Nobel Prize in economics. Bertha is a 7,000-ton tunnel boring machine that’s been stuck under Seattle for nine months—but is still tweeting—as state officials and a private contractor battle over who should pay to get her out. What do […]

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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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Nearly All States Play the Lottery, But None Are Big Winners

By :: September 9th, 2014

Wyoming residents no longer have to cross the border to purchase Powerball tickets. On Aug. 24, Wyoming became the 44th state to legalize a lottery. Proponents laud these games as an easy source of funds for schools and other public services. However, lotteries are often a bad bet: Revenues are relatively modest but their problems […]

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Do Sales Tax Holidays Ever Make Sense?

By :: August 18th, 2014

Politicians love sales tax holidays as good campaign fodder. Retailers celebrate them with gaudy signs announcing tax-free shopping, and consumers line up to take advantage of the deals. But economists and policy analysts across the ideological spectrum condemn them as poorly targeted tax policy that produces little economic benefit. Is there any fiscal justification for […]

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