Economics and Finance

The recent hack of the consumer reporting agency Equifax compromised the security of 143 million Americans’ personal information, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the perils of identity theft and its impact on consumer credit reports. As a response to these concerns, certain credit monitoring and control provisions have been granted to consumers through federal and state. 

Right-to-Work legislation has garnered renewed activity in states across the country. Since 2012, six states—Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, West Virginia and Wisconsin—have adopted right-to-work legislation. Conversely, New Hampshire and New Mexico voted against such a measure during their 2017 legislative sessions. Though legislation varies by state, right-to-work laws allow an employee to work for a business without being obligated to join a labor union. Union groups strongly oppose such legislation as they argue it would jeopardize worker wages and benefits and allow workers who do not pay dues to benefit from union wage and benefit negotiations. Advocates of the law maintain that it encourages economic development and provides options for employees.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in July signed into law one of the nation’s most comprehensive paid family leave programs, offering workers paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child or for the serious medical condition of the employee or his or her family member. The legislation, which will take effect in 2020, offers eligible workers 12 weeks of either parental or medical leave, or 16 weeks for a combination of both. Only four other states guarantee paid family leave: California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, with New York’s program beginning in 2018. The District of Columbia also approved a paid family leave program this year to take effect in 2020.

By Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
During the years when the baby-boom generation was being introduced to the population of the United States, the fertility rate equaled about three births for each woman of child bearing age. But since the mid-1960s, when the baby boom ceased, fertility rates have been dropping. By the early 1970s, the fertility rate fell below two births per woman, and it has been declining steadily for at least the last 10 years. Since then, the U.S. fertility rate has been below replacement level—the level that is needed for couples to replace themselves in the population—according to the Population Reference Bureau.

The State and Local Tax Deduction, or SALT, recently came under scrutiny amidst the debate over tax reform. Implemented in 1913, SALT allows taxpayers to deduct money paid towards state and local taxes from their taxable federal income. The deduction costs the federal government about $96 billion each year, but state and local governments argue that it is crucial for local development.

The Council of State Governments hosted the third annual Public Pension and Retirement Security Public Policy Academy in Lexington, KY on Oct. 4-6, 2017. Attendees heard about public pension finance, approaches to reform, actuarial principles, legal decisions, GASB, retirement security initiatives, emerging trends and more. Presentations are linked below, both to their corresponding names in the agenda and at the very bottom.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there were 886,814 total approved cumulative initial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) cases as of March 31, 2017. Texas (124,300) and California (222,795) have the largest percentage of cases with more than 44 percent of approved DACA recipients in total. Illinois (42,376) and New York (41,970) came in third and fourth. Four states – Maine, Montana, North Dakota, and Vermont – have fewer than 100 recipients each. An additional six states have fewer than 1,000 recipients each. The median number of recipients across all states and the District of Columbia is 6,255. 

International trade was a frequent issue of debate during the 2016 presidential election and the results demonstrated a growing concern among voters around the impact of trade agreements and globalization. Many trade experts will point to Great Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016 as the first indicator in the shift of global trade policy, and reevaluating the impact of international trade agreements. As federal leaders debate the direction of trade policy, states continue to expand exports and attract investments into their respective states; while continuing to improve the coordination with federal agencies to make the trade process easier for their businesses.

As rural communities struggle to grow their economies and retain skilled labor, work-based learning experiences such as internships and apprenticeships offer a promising strategy to address workforce talent shortages and connect individuals to in-demand careers. To achieve scale, there are promising actions state policymakers can take to better align existing programs and resources to support economic development and educational attainment in the rural areas of their states.

There are few areas of state government more important to finances and operations than procurement. Although there are no aggregated figures for 50-state spending on goods and services, the importance of the state procurement function is demonstrated by the substantial sums posted by individual states. An audit several years ago in Arizona put procurement spending at $9.8 billion, about 27 percent of the total state budget.1 An October 2016 report from New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee estimated the slice of the budget spent on goods and services at as much as $13 billion out of a total budget of $18 billion.2

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