State eNews Issue #41, March 3, 2010

Even as economists are touting the end of the Great Recession, states are still dealing with the challenges associated with the market collapse, housing bubble bust and a multitude of other fiscal challenges.

It’s no secret: During this recession, record numbers of workers who lost jobs are drawing benefits from state unemployment funds. Many states are feeling the pinch. In fact, the U.S. Senate approved legislation Tuesday night that extends federal emergency unemployment benefits for workers who have exhausted their basic state unemployment benefits.  But that won’t resolve the dire unemployment insurance situation.

As unemployment rates have skyrocketed in the economic downturn, state unemployment insurance funds are being depleted at increasing rates.  As funds run out, states are borrowing from the federal government, raising taxes and cutting benefits. 

Indiana tax relief measure will be on ballot; Wisconsin and Iowa have proposals of their own

Study highlights striking differences in condition of state retirement systems.

Iowa is offering an early-retirement package to state employees as part of its budget-balancing plan for fiscal year 2011.

The return of income-tax season has states making what has now become a standard pitch to taxpayers: File your returns electronically.

Community colleges are experiencing record student enrollment while states are cutting their budgets due to large deficits. Enrollment caps are limiting people's access to higher education.

For decades, the consumption of services has been making up a higher and higher percentage of  state economic activity. Yet many states' sales tax bases fail to capture the service-based economy.

State Medicaid provider rates were casualties of the recession in almost all states in 2009-2010. And despite the economic downturn a number of states expanded eligibility, increased benefits, and improved application processes.

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