Economics and Finance

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The State and Local Legal Center has filed an amicus brief in Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation, a case that questions whether a state discriminates against rail carriers, or railroads, in violation of federal law even when rail carriers pay less in total state taxes than motor carriers, or trucks....

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The U.S. departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services hosted a National Dialogue on Career Pathways Sept. 23 that highlighted the importance of the Career Pathways Initiative and the implementation of Workforce Innovation and...

The Department of Labor has awarded $14,837,785 in grants to six states - California, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota and South Dakota - to improve employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities as part of the Disability Employment Initiative. The initiative awards grants to help increase the participation of adults and youth with disabilities in existing career pathway systems and other programs that bring together educational insitutions, the private sector and disability advocates. 

Researchers at the Center for American Progress estimate that hunger costs the U.S. at least $167.5 billion every year based on a combination of lost economic productivity, increased education expenses, avoidable health care costs, and the cost of charity. 

Food insecurity – the lack of consistent access to adequate food – affects millions of children and adults every year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Almost 15 percent of all households in 2013 were food insecure, or 49.1 million Americans. On average, from 2003-2011, around one in ten households that include children were food insecure, ranging from a low of 5.1 percent in New Hampshire to a high of 12.8 percent in Texas.

Hunger affects millions of children every year in the U.S. and is linked to greater rates of absenteeism and school disciplinary problems. Those behaviors are, in turn, associated with lower academic achievement and greatly increase the chance a child will drop out of school – which comes with a huge price tag for tax payers. 

The Department of Labor announced yesterday in a press release that 11 organizations across nine states have been awarded $50,744,449 in grants to improve federal job training programs through the Workforce Innovation Fund. The grants - ranging from $2.9 to $12 million - were awarded to state workforce agencies and local workforce investment boards for the second round of competition under the Fund. During the first round, approximately $171 million in grants were awarded including $147 million for 26 grants in 2012 and $24 million for two Pay for Success grants in 2013. 

Last week, the White House launched the second round of the Promise Zone Competition – an initiative which invites high-poverty urban, rural and tribal communities to put forward a plan to partner with local business and community leaders to make evidence-based investments that create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, expand educational opportunities and reduce violent crime. During the first round, five communities were chosen and fifteen more will be designated by 2016.

The U.S. Dept. of Labor announced Monday that Texas has been awarded $2.8 million to enhance and expand its short-time compensation program (STC), which is designed to help prevent layoffs through “work-sharing”. STC programs are administered through the federal-state unemployment compensation system and allow employers to reduce employee work hours during tough economic times as an alternative to laying them off. Through the STC program, employees who have had their hours reduced receive some percentage of the weekly unemployment benefits that they would have received if they had been completely laid off.  

This session explored what’s in store for your state in 2015 and beyond as experts forecast fiscal and economic trends for states and the nation. The discussion focused on the most significant fiscal and economic issues facing states—such as public pensions, tax reform and ways to foster entrepreneurship—and included insights about how states are tackling similar concerns. 

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