Economics and Finance

CSG Midwest
Seven years ago, Kansas lawmakers adopted new incentives for individuals to move to the state and make one of its 77 rural counties their new home. The Rural Opportunity Zones program offers a mix of income tax waivers (for up to five years) and student-loan repayments of $15,000. But as much as he supports the idea, Kansas Rep. Troy Waymaster says another part of the economic challenges for rural areas must somehow be met. 
“The problem is when there is no job for them to take, [people] probably are not going to move [to the rural counties],” he notes. “This is the other half of the equation: how you get jobs to move back.” 
This year, he introduced the Ad Astra Rural Jobs Act (HB 2168), which would provide tax credits to investors who help businesses expand, locate or relocate in Kansas’ rural areas, many of which are struggling due to trends in their two dominant industries: agriculture and oil. In both sectors, commodity prices are low.
CSG Midwest
Indiana Sen. Jean Leising knows it’s going to be another tough year for beef and hog producers, and 2016’s record national yields for corn and soybeans indicate that farm profitability will decline for the third straight year.  But she says a statutory revision made by the state legislature last year might at least help ease the pain for agricultural producers when it comes to paying their property taxes. 
CSG Midwest
Tax policy quickly emerged as a high-priority issue this year in many of the Midwest’s states, with a mix of proposed tax hikes and cuts making their way into governors’ State of the State addresses and proposed budgets, as well as some of the first bills introduced in legislatures.

Prevailing wage laws are created by state governments or local municipalities to set a rate of pay that is thought to be standard for a labor group contracted to do public-sector projects in that area. Twenty-nine states currently have prevailing wage laws. Since 2015, three states have repealed their laws and a number of states are considering repeal this year. 

Prevailing wage laws are laws created by state governments or local municipalities to set a rate of pay that is thought to be standard for a labor group contracted to do public-sector projects in that area. The standard rate of pay is oftentimes determined by analyzing local wage data and identifying the median or average rate of pay for a labor group or project.Twenty-nine states currently have prevailing wage laws.

The Council of State Governments has released its annual listing of the top five issues legislators will face this session in nine key policy areas, including education, workforce development, energy and the environment, federal affairs, fiscal and economic development, health, interstate compacts, transportation, and international affairs.

CSG Director of Federal and International Affairs Andy Karellas and Senior Policy Analyst Jack Cobb outline the top five issues in international affairs policy for 2017, including the impacts of macroeconomic policy, global trade, national security, conflicts overseas and global public health.

About one out of every three dollars of state revenue comes from the federal government. But with a new Republican-controlled White House and Congress, the future of that funding is unclear. “There is some uncertainty there. We just don’t know what’s going to happen with federal funding,” said Delaware state Rep. Helene Keeley. “It’s really too soon to tell,” said Brian Sigritz, director of state fiscal studies at the National Association of State Budget Officers. “But from a budgetary perspective, any kind of federal uncertainty can make it difficult for states to do their budget proposals.”

CSG Director of Fiscal and Economic Development Policy Jennifer Burnett outlines the top five issues in fiscal policy for 2017, including fiscal uncertainty, public employee retirement, health care costs, data- and evidence-based decision-making, and labor markets.

CSG Director of Education and Workforce Development Policy Elizabeth Whitehouse and Education and Workforce Development Policy Analyst Donna Counts outline the top five issues in workforce development policy for 2017, including skills and apprenticeships, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act implementation, wages and benefits, occupational licensure and workforce re-entry.

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