Capitol Research

As states ponder the future of transportation funding, tolling is playing an increasingly significant role. Tolls are helping states close funding gaps, support capital investment and improve mobility. Developments at the federal and state levels make the trend toward increased tolling likely to continue. But some states have seen pushback against the proliferation of tolls and Texas in particular could face a rocky road ahead as that state tries to deal with increased congestion due to population growth.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP and food stamps, is the nation’s largest anti-hunger program. The program is designed to be anti-cyclical—providing more benefits during economic downturns. About 46.5 million Americans received monthly SNAP benefits in the 2014 fiscal year, dramatically up from 28 million in 2008. In 2013, some states began to see SNAP numbers decline and by 2014, all but eight states posted declines in enrollment from the year before. National SNAP enrollment in 2014 was down by 2.3 percent from 2013.

At its peak in August 2008, state government employment stood at 5.21 million, or about 3.8 percent of total nonfarm employment. Over the next five years, state governments shed 187,000 jobs, landing at 5.03 million in July 2013. As of December 2014, state governments had regained 53,000 positions since hitting the July 2013 low, but have only recovered a little more than one quarter of the positions lost since the August 2008 peak.

This summer the Oregon Department of Transportation begins a program under which 5,000 volunteer drivers will pay a mileage-based road usage charge. It’s just the latest step for Oregon, which has been a pioneer of mileage-based fees over the last decade. But Oregon is far from alone in testing and exploring such fees. Other states have conducted tests of their own, adopted mileage-based user fee-related legislation and participated in multi-state coalitions to explore the concept.

Approximately 7.7 million people living in states with a federally run health insurance exchange purchased health insurance and qualified for monthly premium tax subsidies during the 2014-15 open enrollment period, according to newly released data. The estimated annual value of those tax subsidies tops $24 billion, according to calculations by The Council of State Governments. These premium subsidies are at risk in the King v. Burwell case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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