Capitol Comments

Nearly half of state governments in the U.S. use a process outside of the legislature to draw congressional district lines. In the recent 5-4 decision, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the Court held that the Constitution’s Elections Clause permits voters to vest congressional redistricting authority entirely in an independent commission. Read more HERE. 

Sixteen states have passed laws explicitly authorizing needle exchange programs, and there are a number of states with statutes that either decrease barriers to the distribution of clean needles or altogether remove syringes from the list of drug paraphernalia. Additionally, a recent HIV outbreak in the small town of Austin, Ind., has led more states to consider authorizing such programs.

Forty-five states levy a general statewide sales tax, with rates ranging from 2.9 to 7.5 cents $1 as of Jan. 1, 2015. Over the past decade, sales tax rates have remained relatively stable, with few states making significant changes. Among the states that levy a sales tax, the average rate was 5.64 percent in 2015, up from 5.35 percent in 2005.

Econ Piggy

According to a recent report released by the Census Bureau, per pupil spending for the U.S. in fiscal year 2013 was $10,700 – less than 1 percent more than in 2012. New York spent the most per student - $19,818 – followed by Alaska ($18,175), the District of Columbia ($17,953), New Jersey ($17,572) and Connecticut ($16,631). Utah spent the least per pupil – $6,555 – followed by Idaho ($6,791), Arizona ($7,208), Oklahoma ($7,672) and Mississippi ($8,130).

In 2014 slightly less than five percent of state tax revenue, or $41.5 billion, came from fuel taxes according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 Annual Survey of State Government Tax Collections. Just 1.3 percent of Alaska’s tax revenue came from fuel taxes – the lowest percentage among states – compared to 8.6 percent in South Dakota – the highest among states.