By Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, CSG Senior Fellows

At least a dozen states—including Arizona, Florida, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin—have plans to cut taxes in the coming year. But statistics suggest that lowering the tax burden doesn’t always translate into economic activity.

CSG Midwest
Illinois lawmakers are hailing a new set of safeguards that they say will improve how the state oversees grants and will protect against fraud and abuse. The Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (HB 2747) was signed into law last year. The plan for implementing this act was announced in March. 
 
 

There is no way to know for sure why Justice Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl stating that the “legal system should find an appropriate case for this Court to reexamine Quill.”  But even if you don’t read the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) amicus brief’s criticism of ...

CSG South

In July 2008, the price of oil per barrel reached an astronomical $147, and the price of gasoline in several states exceeded $5 per gallon; just six months earlier in January 2008, the price per barrel had hovered around $90. Fast forward to the end of 2008, and the price had plunged to under $35 a barrel, when the United States and world economies were in the throes of the Great Recession, the worst economic downturn to sweep over the globe since the Great Depression. Reviewing the price per barrel in the last six months reveals similar trends: in June 2014, oil was around $115 per barrel and six months later, in early January 2015, it had dropped precipitously to below $50 per barrel. Interestingly, the four years with the highest average crude oil prices since the 1860s were 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013; hence, the steep drop in oil prices is not a “new normal” but a return to more historic price levels. This SLC Regional Resource describes recent trends in oil prices, the reasons for their fluctuations, and the affect they have on individual states and industries in the region.

Real gross domestic product – the total value of the production of goods and services adjusted for price changes – grew in 49 states in 2013. Nationally, nondurable–goods manufacturing contributed the most to real GDP growth, while mining played a key role in the fastest growing states – North Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

States face a conundrum as they struggle to regulate and tax e-cigarettes and other vapor systems that deliver nicotine to their users. Definitions in current tobacco and smoking laws can be amended to apply; however the evidence-base to establish equivalency to tobacco has not yet been established. Only three states have totally prohibited the use of e-cigarettes in public places, but 41 states prohibit the purchase of e-cigarettes to minors. Just two states have established taxes on these new products.

E-cigarettes are a nicotine delivery system. They heat liquid containing nicotine and flavorings into a vapor by passing it over a small electronic battery. According to The Wall Street Journal, sales grew from $2 million in 2009 to $722 million in 2013.
CSG Midwest
As state policymakers begin a new year of budget-making, most in the Midwest will be doing so under fairly strong and stable fiscal conditions. Revenue collection is up in nearly every state in this region; with only a few exceptions, rates of growth for fiscal year 2015 are estimated to be between 2 percent and 5 percent (see table below). In most states, too, similar increases in revenue are being used as a foundation for the new annual or biennial budgets being crafted during this year’s legislative sessions.
CSG Midwest
Michigan has become the latest state to try and do more to collect taxes from online sales, a move spurred in part by concerns that Main Street businesses have been put at a competitive disadvantage. According to mlive.comSB 658 and SB 659 extend Michigan’s sales and use taxes to out-of-state companies with a “nexus” or physical presence in the state.
 

Jennifer Burnett, Program Manager for Fiscal and Economic Development Policy, outlines the top five issues in fiscal and economic development policy for 2015,  including job creations strategies, state innovations in health care spending, public pension solvency, and federal funding uncertainty. 

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