Author Archives: afscme

States Get Creative to Fund Transportation Projects

Source: Mary Branham, Council of State Governments, E-newsletter Issue #117, June 20, 2013
The big picture regarding transportation infrastructure funding typically centers around the rapidly declining revenues that are tied to the primary funding source for roads—the motor fuels tax. But the real picture is even bigger than that for state governments….

…Georgia used alternative financing models, such as public-private partnerships and design-build-finance, to fund needed projects. It also looked at expanding sponsorship opportunities and focused on negotiating contracts with pay based on performance…

…The Virginia legislature did pass a proposal for funding transportation in the 2013 session—a compromise between Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposal to eliminate the motor fuels tax and a variety of Senate bills to increase them…That includes public private partnerships, toll roads, reform at the state Department of Transportation, and the use of bonds and debt to fund infrastructure projects. But the public is growing increasingly intolerant of tolling and the state was “pretty maxed out on the credit card,” Powell said. …

States Act to Bolster Transportation Funding
Source: Council of State Governments, Webinar, June 14, 2013

Criminalized Women and the Health Care System: The Case for Continuity of Services

Source: Susan Sered, Maureen Norton-Hawk, Journal of Correctional Health Care, Vol. 19 no. 3, July 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Drawing upon research with criminalized women in Massachusetts, this article examines barriers to health care before, during, and after incarceration. Although very few of the surveyed women reported having had to forgo medical treatment because of an inability to pay, almost all of them reported being unable to access consistent, ongoing health care services. Typically, the women recalled sequential contact with dozens of providers at dozens of facilities, treatment plans that had been developed but never executed, psychotherapy that opened wounds but was terminated before healing them, and involuntary interruptions in legally prescribed courses of psychiatric medications. Acknowledging that these problems are related to wider structures of health care delivery in the United States, this article ends with a modest proposal for developing a role for health care advocates assigned to coordinate care for those with complicated medical problems to help them manage their health care needs over a long period of time.

State Cigarette Taxes 2013

Source: Jennifer Burnett, Council of State Governments, Capitol Research, Fiscal & Economic, June 2013

From the summary:
Cigarette taxes are a means both to raise state revenue and to discourage the use of tobacco. Cigarette taxes range significantly across states, as does the amount of revenue collected on such taxes. Revenues from state taxes on tobacco totaled more than $17 billion in 2012, representing 2.2 percent of all state tax revenue.
– Every state imposes a tax on cigarettes, but those taxes vary considerably.
– Many states have regularly increased their cigarette taxes by modest amounts since 2000.
– Revenues from state taxes on tobacco totaled more than $17 billion in 2012, representing 2.2 percent of all state tax revenue. Revenue has been falling, however, since the Great Recession.
See also:
Excel Table: State Cigarette Tax Rates and Tobacco Tax Revenue

State Lotteries

Source: Elle Hull and Jennifer Burnett, Council of State Governments, June 2013

From the summary:
In March 2013, Wyoming became the 44th state to legalize the operation of a state lottery. Lottery sales across all states totaled nearly $69 billion in 2012, with profits of more than $19 billion. Most states use at least some of that revenue to fund education and 17 states mandate that revenue be used exclusively for this purpose.

– Forty-four states operate a state lottery, but how state lottery revenues are used varies across states.
– Lottery sales across all states totaled nearly $69 billion in 2012, with profits of more than $19 billion.
– For those states that do not currently have a state lottery, the issue is still debated regularly.
See also:
Excel Table: State Lotteries

Lotteries Provided Stable Funding Through Recession
Source: Elle Hull, Council of State Governments, E-newsletter Issue #117, June 20, 2013

America’s Infrastructure: Bridges

Source: Johnny Xu and Jennifer Burnett, Council of State Governments, Capitol Facts & Figures, Transportation, June 2013

From the summary:
America’s deteriorating infrastructure has been an ongoing concern for many years. The May 2013 collapse of a bridge in Washington was the latest event to peak the interests of the public and policymakers about the state, safety and financing of bridges and roads in the U.S.

– While the number of bridges deemed to be deficient has been declining over the past decade, more than 10 percent of the nation’s bridges remain in need of repair or update.
– Deficiency levels on state-owned bridges vary significantly across the country.
See also:
Deficiency Status of Bridges, 2012

The Role of Job Insecurity in Explanations of Racial Health Inequalities

Source: Andrew S. Fullerton, Kathryn Freeman Anderson, Sociological Forum, Volume 28, Issue 2, June 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The literature documenting substantial health differences for racial minorities in the United States is well developed and has considered a multitude of explanations for such disparities. However, the literature seldom addresses the health effects for racial minorities produced in the workplace. This study bridges these two literatures in order to understand the mediating role of job insecurity in explanations of racial health disparities. Our central argument is that racial differences in job insecurity resulting from the marginalized labor market positions of racial minorities are partially responsible for racial disparities in health. This study utilizes adjacent category and partial adjacent category logit models of general health using data from the 2000 to 2010 General Social Survey in order to test this claim. Overall, the results from this study indicate that there are substantial racial differences in job insecurity, and both race and job insecurity are important predictors of general self-rated health. Additionally, racial differences in job insecurity help explain a portion of the racial disparities in health. We conclude with a discussion of the implications for the study of health disparities in the United States.

NLRB Employee-Rights Posters and Employers’ Free Speech

Source: Charles J. Morris on Labor Relations blog, June 13, 2013

A recent decision by a panel of judges of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals in National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) v. NLRB,[1] in an Opinion by Judge A. Raymond Randolph, holds that a rule issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) on August 30, 2011, that requires employers to display a poster that advises employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or Act)[2] is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment free-speech rights of employers. The New York Times’ characterization of that decision as “outrageous”[3] expresses the natural reaction to a ruling that uses the cover of free speech to suppress free speech. Judge Randolph’s decision raises the critical question of whether by final judicial determination this notice-posting rule will be deemed a violation of the Constitution, for if so, most governmentally required notice postings (both federal and state) that are commonly displayed in millions of American workplaces will no longer be mandatory. Based on established case law, the final answer to that question should be that the rule does not violate the First Amendment; thus the existing familiar notice- postings will safely continue. However, before examining that established law, a background item is worthy of note.

Municipal Bonds Build America: A County Perspective on Changing the Tax-exempt Status of Municipal Bond Interest

Source: Emilia Istrate, National Association of Counties (NACo), Policy Research Paper Series, Issue 1, 2013

From the summary:
Counties, states and other localities are the main funders of infrastructure in the United States. ​ Municipal bonds enable state and locals to build essential infrastructure projects, such as schools, hospitals and roads. Congress and the Administration are currently debating federal tax reform, including a cap or a repeal of the tax-exempt status of municipal bond interest. An analysis of the municipal bond market and of the estimated impact of a 28 percent cap and a repeal of the tax-exempt status of municipal bond interest on the 3,069 county governments
​reveals that:
– Municipal bonds finance a range of locally selected infrastructure projects and have a long history of low default rates.
– Any tax imposed on currently tax-exempt municipal bond interest will affect all Americans, as investors in municipal bonds and as taxpayers securing the payments of municipal bonds.
– ​In 2012 alone, the debt service burden for counties would have risen by $9 billion if municipal bonds were taxable over the last 15 years and by about $3.2 billion in case of a 28 percent cap.

Keating Report: Mid-year 2013 forecast on government budgets and spending

Source: Michael Keating, Government Product News, June 12, 2013

The Keating Report mid-year 2013 forecast on government budgets and spending (first part presented below) is in the June edition of Government Product News. The mid-year 2013 forecast is an update of our 2013 forecast that was published in the January 2013 edition of Government Product News.

The mid-year 2013 edition of the Keating Report includes forecasts on government purchases of goods and services from forecaster IHS Global Insight. Experts from a variety of organizations, including the Council of State Governments, National League of Cities and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities offer their views on how the economy is affecting government budgets. More sections from the mid-year 2013 edition of the Keating Report, covering state budgets, local government revenue drivers, federal finances and government construction, will be posted soon.

Fragile economic recovery drives improved government budgets—Part 1
…As the economy strengthens, governments are loosening their purse strings. In 2014, government purchases of goods and services will reach $3.09 trillion, up from $3.02 trillion in 2013, according to Lexington, Mass.-based economic forecaster IHS Global Insight. For 2013, federal government purchases of goods and services will total $1.17 trillion, while state and local government purchases will reach $1.86 trillion. By 2018, government purchases of goods and services will rebound to $3.35 trillion, predicts IHS. Of that 2018 amount, state and local purchases will total about $2.13 trillion….

Cautious optimism about state finances-Part 2
State government budgets are looking up. State tax collections grew for the twelfth consecutive quarter through the end of 2012, according to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York at Albany. A majority of governors have proposed FY 2014 budgets with modest general fund spending growth, according to a recent analysis by the Washington-based National Association of State Budget Officers….State governments are pulling in unexpectedly strong income tax revenues in the latest quarter, says Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service (S&P). Those revenues are outpacing the growth of sales tax receipts during the slow economic recovery. Some states, including Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming have had strong growth in revenues from severance taxes generated by mining and by oil and natural gas drilling. Total state revenues, however, are about 5 percent below pre-recession levels after adjusting for inflation, says Elizabeth McNichol, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities….

State Level Progress in Implementation of Federally Facilitated Exchanges: Findings in Three Case Study States

Source: Linda J. Blumberg, Shanna Rifkin, Urban Institute, June 14, 2013

From the abstract:
This paper focuses on states’ roles in implementation of FFEs. We start by providing an overview of recent regulations issued by CCIIO that describes the possible roles both for states and the federal government in the FFEs. We then provide in-depth descriptions of each of the specific FFE options as implemented in three states-Alabama, Michigan, and Virginia-with an eye to each state’s role in developing mechanisms to carry out their new responsibilities and progress in creating relationships with the federal government in order to ensure successful implementation of the three types of federally facilitated exchanges.