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    Entries in politics (21)


    Despite Budget Shortfalls, Some Governors Call for Tax Cuts

    In addition to new tax breaks, some states are also considering raising gas and sin taxes.

    BY  JANUARY 25, 2017

    Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks during a news conference. (AP/Nati Harnik)

    About half of the states are facing budget shortfalls this fiscal year, but many governors are still pushing to cut taxes in their proposed 2018 budgets.

    The proposals vary in scope but generally fall within two categories: comprehensive and targeted.

    Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts' proposal is of the comprehensive variety and may be the most aggressive call for tax cuts so far. He is asking for property and personal income tax cuts to be phased in beginning in 2019 -- even as the state faces a $900 million budget gap. Property taxes would be reduced via a new valuation formula and income tax breaks would kick in incrementally and only in years when state revenue grows by more than 3.5 percent.

    On the whole, most of the comprehensive proposals are part of ongoing efforts.

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    What We Don't Know About Trump's Carrier Deal (and Most States' Business Deals)

    BY  DECEMBER 8, 2016

    Critics and supporters of Donald Trump’s deal that kept Carrier Corp. from exporting hundreds of jobs from Indiana to Mexico have spent much of the past week arguing about how many jobs the deal actually saved.

    But what the public will likely never know is how much the deal helps the air conditioning company’s annual state tax bill. It's information that's typically not released but can reveal whether a tax incentive has the potential to bring a business' state tax burden down to zero.

    Last week, President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is still serving as governor of Indiana, announced a deal with Carrier that they say will keep 1,100 jobs in the state in exchange for $7 million in tax breaks over a decade. Since the announcement, unions have refuted the jobs number and said it’s closer to 800 since Carrier still plans to export 500 jobs to Mexico.

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    Would Eliminating Taxes on Services Help or Hurt the Poor?

    As states increasingly look to tax services, Missouri voters can be the first to keep that from ever happening. How that would impact consumers is unclear.
    BY  AUGUST 31, 2016

    States have struggled to keep up the same revenue growth as they experienced before the recession. One big reason is that their earnings from sales taxes are declining. That's because these days, consumers are spending far more on services -- most of which aren’t taxed -- than goods, which are.

    To remedy the situation, lawmakers have tried and had varying degrees of success expanding the sales tax to services. Massachusetts passed a tax on the cloud and quickly repealed it after the tech industry complained. Pennsylvania enacted the so-called "Netflix tax" on streaming video services. Washington, D.C., added a long list of services to be taxed: yoga, tanning and bowling, to name a few.

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    The Story Behind San Bernardino’s Long Bankruptcy

    Unlike Detroit or Stockton, this California city’s insolvency can’t be blamed on debt or pensions.

    BY  AUGUST 25, 2016

    Four years ago this month, San Bernardino, Calif., filed for Chapter 9 protection. Today, it’s still in Chapter 9 -- the longest municipal bankruptcy in recent memory.

    Why so long? Many blame it on San Bernardino’s lengthy and convoluted charter, a document that gives so much authority to so many officials that it’s completely ineffective. “It gets everybody in everybody else’s business,” said City Manager Mark Scott. “And it keeps anybody from doing anything.”

    As a result, officials have spent the last two years trying to ensure the current charter is not part of the city’s future. A specially appointed committee is proposing to completely overhaul it.

    At issue is that unlike many California cities that either have a strong mayor/council form of management or a strong city manager government, San Bernardino’s is a hybrid, doling out authority to both sides. For example, fire and police chiefs are appointed by the mayor and subject to approval by the council, but report to both the mayor and city manager. This confusing structure played a role in the city’s road to insolvency. “You’d have to say,” Scott said, “the charter made it almost impossible to succeed.”

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    Term Limits Don't Lead to More Women in Politics

    Term limits were billed as a way to get more women to run for office. It hasn't worked out that way.
    BY  APRIL 22, 2016

    In Oklahoma, half of its women legislators aren’t running for re-election this year because they're term-limited out. That rate may seem high, but in a state that ranks 49th for the percentage of women currently serving in the state legislature, it doesn’t take a lot to get there.

    “Our numbers to begin with are very low,” said Cindy Simon Rosenthal, director of Oklahoma University’s Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. “This is a major turnover of women in the legislature.”

    In total, eight women are leaving -- seven because their terms are up and one because she is running for another office and would vacate her seat if successful.

    When term limits were implemented in the early 1990s, the policy was billed, among other things, as a way to get more women elected to the legislature. The idea was that term limits would periodically force open races, where women candidates have historically fared better.

    But in the early 2000s, it became clear that term limits were not the panacea for increasing women’s representation in politics. Since they were passed in Oklahoma and a number of other states in the 1990s, the level of female representation in state legislatures has stayed at roughly 25 percent.

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