Just Taxes Blog by ITEP

State Rundown 8/2: Legislative Tax Debates Wind Down as Ballot Initiative Efforts Ramp Up

State Rundown 8/2: Legislative Tax Debates Wind Down as Ballot Initiative Efforts Ramp Up

August 2, 2017

Meg Wiehe
Meg Wiehe
Deputy Director

Budget deliberations continue in earnest this week in Alaska, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. In South Dakota and Utah, the focus is on gearing up for ballot initiative efforts to raise needed revenue, though be sure to read about legislators nullifying voter-approved initiatives in Maine and elsewhere in our “what we’re reading” section.

— Meg Wiehe, ITEP Deputy Director, @megwiehe

  • Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is planning to unveil an updated tax proposal for consideration, though the details of what will be contained in that proposal are still unknown. Walker has stated that it is “imperative that revenue issues be addressed this year.”
  • Connecticut lawmakers approved a labor agreement with pension concessions that have been described as a step toward improving the state’s fiscal standing. However, the state still lacks a budget agreement and is gearing up for funding cuts.
  • Last week, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a revenue package to fund the state’s budget. The tax component of the agreement includes levies on energy and phone use, natural gas drilling, Internet purchases and fireworks. House members are reviewing the package but have no immediate plans to return to the capitol to vote.
  • Rhode Island‘s budget impasse could soon be nearing an end. Senate leaders have agreed to return to the statehouse tomorrow to approve a budget bill that contains a compromise regarding the degree to which the state’s car tax will be cut.
  • Supporters of an initiative to raise new revenue for school funding in Utah have cut back their proposal to raise the state’s personal income and sales tax rates. The proposed increases will now total 0.45 percentage points, rather than 0.5-point increases.
  • South Dakota residents may have the opportunity to vote on a $1-per-pack cigarette tax increase in 2018, as efforts have begun to gather signatures to put such a measure on the ballot.
  • Alabama‘s Times Daily explains how the state was forced to abandon a proven inmate training program and millions of dollars invested in Medicaid reforms, proving that the argument that slashing funding would improve government efficiency is “demonstrably incorrect.”
  • Also in Alabama, corporate tax subsidies and property tax challenges are draining schools of needed revenue.
  • North Dakota‘s Grand Forks Herald is calling for updating the federal gas tax for the first time since 1993 to better fund infrastructure inside the state and around the nation. Now is the time, they say, because falling oil prices have hurt state revenue collections but also resulted in cheaper gas, making a gas tax increase easier for drivers to handle.
  • Wisconsin Scott Walker wants to give the largest tax incentive in state history–$3 billion–to Foxconn to build a factory in the state, taking on huge risks for taxpayers and perpetuating unsustainable economic policies for the state.
  • Kansas is preparing for the early departure of Gov. Sam Brownback who has been tapped to be an ambassador in the Trump Administration. While key portions of his tax cuts have been dismantled, the governor appears to be leaving with his convictions regarding the cuts still intact. In the first month since the new tax laws, which undid some of his tax cuts, took effect, revenues are higher than expected.
  • In Louisiana, local organizations want more say in tax exemptions that are given to manufacturers for 5-10 years, eating away at local school tax bases.

What We’re Reading…

If you like what you are seeing in the Rundown (or even if you don’t) please send any feedback or tips for future posts to Meg Wiehe at meg@itep.org. Click here to sign up to receive the Rundown via email.