Jennifer Burnett

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With the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) back in the news, the important trade relationship between Canada, Mexico and the states is in the spotlight. For 30 out of the 50 States, Canada or Mexico rank as the first or second largest export market. Here are some quick stats about state exports to these two trading partners and the jobs that rely on that trade relationship.

When it comes to comparing state legislative salaries, there are lots of caveats. In 2016, seven states paid legislators a per diem salary rather than an annual salary. Thirty-eight states paid their legislators an annual salary, with a huge range. In Texas, legislators were paid $7,200 per year while in California lawmakers earned $100,113. The average annual salary for these 38 states was $37,447.

According to a new report from Timothy Bartik, senior economist at the Upjohn Institutestate and local governments more than tripled the incentives - mostly tax credits - they offered businesses in hopes of spurring economic growth between 1990 and 2015. In 2015, those incentives totaled $45 billion and the average incentive package had an annual value of over $2,400 per job.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) calls Americans who were born internationally and who have never resided in the U.S. “never resided” voters. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act grants eligibility for citizens that live outside of the U.S. to vote for federal offices. However, the jurisdiction in which the voter can cast a ballot relies on their last place of residency in the states. This leaves room for confusion when discussing citizens that have never resided in the United States and therefore do not have a “previous residency.”

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 Since 2015, three states have repealed their laws and a number of states are considering repeal this year.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.

Are public pension plans trading off long-term stability for a less hair-raising sticker price for state governments today? A new report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government answers that question and takes a closer look at the difficult choices those running public pension funds have had to make over the last three decades, and what those choices mean for the future fiscal stability of states. 

In the coming months, legislators in almost every state will be grappling with writing a new budget. According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), 47 states will enact a new budget for fiscal year 2018, while the three remaining states (Kentucky, Virginia and Wyoming) have previously enacted budgets that cover both fiscal years 2017 and 2018. Among those 47 states, most – 30 – will pass an annual budget, while 17 will authorize a two-year (biennial) budget that will cover both fiscal year 2018 and 2019. Note that for 46 states, fiscal year 2018 will begin on July 1, 2017. Alabama (Oct. 1), Michigan (Oct. 1), New York (Apr. 1) and Texas (Sept. 1) are the exceptions.  Most state legislatures adopt their new budgets in the spring.  

According to the National Association of State Budget Officers’ Fall 2016 Fiscal Survey of the States, most states are seeing weaker revenue conditions from 2016 carrying into fiscal 2017. At the time of data collection, 24 states reported general fund revenues for fiscal 2017 were coming in below forecast, while 16 states were on target and four states were above forecast. 

Check out our ongoing coverage of state budgets in 2017 HERE.

“The economy is sluggish and we don’t know what to expect from the federal government. We’ve got some tough times ahead,” Brian Sigritz, Director of State Fiscal Studies for the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) told Fiscal and Economic Development Committee members last week during CSG’s National Conference in Williamsburg, VA. “There’s really just not enough money to go around.” 

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