Economics and Finance

For every two packs of cigarettes sold in New York, at least one has been illegally smuggled into the state. That’s according to research by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which also reports that cigarette smuggling cost states an estimated $5.5 billion in lost revenue in 2012. “The significance of the problem cannot be overstated in high-tax states,” said Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative at the Mackinac Center.

Economic recovery from the Great Recession has been slow and painful and for many states, revenues are only now getting back to pre-recession levels. While the recession took states on a fiscal roller coaster ride, it also helped reveal the importance of planning for hard times long before they arrive and having a strategy in place to manage volatility. A new series of reports by The Pew Charitable Trusts aims to provide state policymakers with a roadmap to help manage fiscal ups and downs and uncertainty. The first report in the series, "Managing Uncertainty," looks at volatility across the 50 states, noting that the drivers of economic and revenue volatility vary widely.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those with less than a high school diploma was11 percent in 2013 - nearly 4 percentage points higher than the national average and almost triple the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor's degree. 

Cigarette smuggling across state lines is a serious problem, costing states billions in lost revenue each year and creating challenges for law enforcement. 

According to new research by the Urban Institute, yesterday’s court rulings on Obamacare subsidies could mean a big drop in federal funds flowing into some states. The Urban Institute says that 11.8 million individuals are expected to enroll in the 34 Federally Facilitated Marketplaces (FFMs) in 2016 and of those, 7.3 million are estimated to receive federal subsidies to purchase insurance. Some of the lowest income recipients will also receive additional subsidies to lower the cost of their co-payments, deductibles and co-insurance.

According to the Washington Post, New York has become the first state to propose separate regulations for virtual currencies like Bitcoin. The New York Department of Financial Services announced yesterday in a press release that it has released it’s first draft of regulations. According to the press release, the proposed regulatory framework "is the product of a nearly year-long DFS inquiry, including public hearings that the Department held in January 2014 – contains consumer protection, anti-money laundering compliance, and cyber security rules tailored for virtual currency firms". The proposed rules will be published in the New York State Register’s July 23, 2014 edition at which point the 45-day public comment period will begin. After the comment period, the rules are subject to additional review and revision based on that public feedback before DFS finalizes them.

Policymakers across the country continue to focus on expanding the collaboration between education--at the high school and postsecondary levels--and economic development in an effort to develop a highly skilled and competitive workforce. Cooperation between the education and economic development sectors in state government, combined with active input from the corporate sector, is a critical factor in recruiting and retaining industry, particularly in manufacturing. Several states in The Council of State Governments' Southern...

U.S. libraries have taken a major hit during the recent recession. Fighting to have their voices heard among those other important issues, including education and health care, libraries have been losing the funding battle.

Each year, more than 250,000 service members transition out of the military. Many of them become entrepreneurs: nearly half of military veterans start their own business after completing their military service.

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) a bipartisan, bicameral bill that was the result of months of negotiations between House and Senate leaders.  The bill, which received wide support (415 to 6), will modernize and improve the federal workforce development programs aimed at helping workers attain the skills needed for 21st century jobs.   The legislation recently passed through the U.S. Senate with overwhelming support (95 to 3, with 2 no votes) and now awaits the President’s signature.

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