The New York Court of Appeals in June 2014 overturned New York City's highly publicized soda ban that limited purchases of fountain drinks to 16-ounce cups in an attempt to reduce constituents' consumption of soda.  Most states have lieved taxes on soda purchase intending to influence consumer choices, promote public health and generate revenue. 

According to The Institute for Health and Social Policy, 145 of 173 countries mandate paid sick days for short- or long-term illnesses. Employers in the U.S. are not required by the federal government to provide paid sick leave to employees, but two states – Connecticut and California – have passed laws that require employers to do so. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 65 percent of civilian employees – private sector and state and local governments – had access to paid sick leave in March 2014.

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Concerned about a steady decline in the proportion of state workers who are disabled, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is ordering agency heads to do more. His executive order also includes a workforce goal — that by 2018, 7 percent of the people employed by Minnesota’s state agencies be individuals with disabilities.
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A few months after it ranked first in a national study of state spending transparency, Indiana has taken another step to provide more information online to the public. The Management and Performance Hub opened this summer. It includes details on the state budget, public retirement system and tax revenue. The site also lists and tracks indicators of performance for various state agencies.

Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (AB 1522) into law which will require employers in the state to provide at least three days of paid sick leave annually for part and full-time workers beginning July 2015. This makes California the second state to pass such a law - Connecticut was the first state to do so in 2011. According to a press release issued by the governor’s office, the new law will provide “paid sick days to the millions of Californians - roughly 40% of the state's workforce - who do not currently earn this benefit”.

According to the American-Statesmen, Tesla has picked Nevada as the site for its new $5 billion “gigafactory” battery plant, which will reportedly create 6,500 direct jobs. Tesla's siting search set off a bidding war among a number of states to offer the most enticing location package, including big bucks for tax and financial incentives. According to the Las Vegas Review JournalNevada will offer Tesla state and local tax breaks and credits worth around $1.3 billion. That includes an elimination of all state and local sales and use taxes until June 2034 and a 100 percent abatement of the real property tax, the personal property tax and the modified business tax until June 2024. Nevada does not have a corporate income tax.

A May 2014 state-by-state survey conducted by National Public Radio (NPR) finds that the costs of the criminal justice system across the U.S. are increasingly being shifted to defendants and offenders. Specifically, defendants are now being charged for government services that were once free, including those that are constitutionally required. From the study:

In a fiscal environment with much competition for limited state resources, state leaders need the ability to make data-driven policy decisions more than ever before. Increasingly, state leaders are using economic analysis software and data systems to predict economic impacts. Users have used one of those programs, IMPLAN, to estimate the direct, indirect, induced and total impacts of foreign direct investment to their state’s economy including the number of jobs supported, labor income, total value added and tax revenue.

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Low-income workers in Ohio will get additional tax relief as the result of changes made in June to the state’s biennial budget. Following last year’s creation of an earned income tax credit, the legislature chose to expand it — from 5 percent of the federal credit to 10 percent.
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When the Great Recession began to hit states, they had a total of $59.9 billion in reserves. A year later, total budget gaps were nearly double that figure, $117.3 billion.
“States found themselves woefully short in terms of the amount of savings they had to offset the budget shortfalls created by the crisis,” Robert Zahradnik of The Pew Charitable Trusts told lawmakers at the Midwestern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting. “A lot of that is because savings is not the highest priority when it comes to making state budgets.”
The fiscal crisis is over, but it has opened new questions about budget planning and management. Prior to the Great Recession, for example, a fiscal reserve of 5 percent of the total budget was considered a sound target. Now, Zahradnik said, the preferred goal tends to be between 8 and 10 percent.
Part of the reason is that state revenue sources have simply become more volatile, thus the need to better plan for more-extreme “rainy days.”

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