Capitol Comments

Econ Piggy

According to The National Association of State Budget Officer's State Expenditure Report, total state spending (including both state and federal funds) grew by an estimated 5.7 percent in FY 2014, a significant jump from the 2.2 percent growth rate in FY 2013. In FY 2012, year-over-year total state spending fell by 1.1 percent. The recent boost in state expenditures is due primarily to a jump in spending from federal funds, which increased by 7.6 percent in FY 2014. Spending from state funds, on the other hand, grew by 4.8 percent.

Only 36.4 percent of eligible voters voted in the 2014 midterm election – the lowest turnout since 1942. Voter turnout during presidential election years is higher than turnout during midterm elections. In 2012, 58.2 percent of eligible voters voted – nearly 20 percentage points higher than the turnout just two years later in a midterm year.   

What a difference a year makes. On Jan. 1, 2014, only 21 states had a minimum wage higher than the federal wage. One year later, more than half of states – 29 – are set to have a minimum wage higher than the federal rate of $7.25/hr. Ten states enacted minimum wage increases during the 2014 legislative session and four states passed a wage hike via ballot initiative.

In the 2014 midterm election, voter turnout rates ranged from a low of 28 percent in Indiana and 28.5 percent in Texas to a high of 59.3 percent in Maine and 56.9 percent in Wisconsin. Nationally, the turnout rate was 36.3 percent.

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Although Congress did not pass minimum wage legislation in 2014, a number of states have taken action and others likely will address this issue in 2015. The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that from 2013 to 2017, about 7 million workers will benefit from minimum wage increases enacted by state and local governments.1

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