State expenditure growth is projected to slow significantly for fiscal year 2008, which is the 12-month period that began July 1, 2007 in most states. During May, June, and early July, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities conducted a phone and email survey of state legislative and executive budget officials to learn states’ actual General Fund spending for fiscal year 2006, their best estimate of fiscal year 2007 spending, and the fiscal year 2008 spending included in their recently enacted budget. The preliminary results of this survey show that in fiscal year 2008, General Fund spending will grow about 5.3 percent — well below the rates of growth in fiscal years 2006 and 2007.
The Internal Revenue Service released an interim report summarizing responses from almost 500 tax-exempt hospitals to a May 2006 questionnaire about how they provide and report benefits to the community. Providing community benefit is required for hospitals seeking and retaining tax-exempt status as charities.
Today’s report on the hospital compliance project contains preliminary information on the way nonprofit hospitals, which comprise one of the largest components of the tax-exempt sector, responded to questions about how they provide community benefit. The IRS is still in the process of analyzing the reported data.
According to the report, nearly all hospitals reported that they provided various types of community benefit that were the subject of the questionnaire. Although 97 percent of responding hospitals said they have a written uncompensated care policy, no uniform definition of what constitutes “uncompensated care” emerged from the responses. Further, there appear to be significant differences in the way other components of community benefit are reported.
Unemployment Insurance (UI) is a joint federal-state program designed to provide temporary income support to workers who have a demonstrated attachment to the labor force and lose their jobs due to a lay-off or for other economic reasons, or who must leave their jobs through no fault of their own. (See the box on page 2 for an overview of the UI system.) Unfortunately, the UI system is not performing as well as it should in meeting this goal. Many workers who lose their jobs — especially low-income and part-time workers — end up not receiving any unemployment benefits; many others exhaust their benefits before finding a new job.
The need to modernize UI has been evident for some time, and many states have made progress reforming their UI laws over the past decade or so. It is time for the federal government to lend its support and encouragement to these efforts, and such reform may be on the Congressional agenda this year.
Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured: “The new brief, Louisiana’s Proposed Section 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Project: Estimating the Numbers of Uninsured and Projected Medicaid Costs, analyzes the composition and medical costs of the uninsured in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. The estimates in the brief are the first available that are based on a detailed analysis of who the uninsured are in Louisiana, their current medical spending, and what their spending might be under Medicaid. The findings show that expanding Medicaid coverage to Louisiana’s uninsured would cost an estimated $2.3 billion in 2006 dollars. It also suggests that many of those who left Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina had coverage, so the number of uninsured in the state remained about the same, but their share of the total population increased. The brief was commissioned by Kaiser and prepared by Stephen Zuckerman of the Urban Institute and Jack Hadley of George Mason University.”
A good tax system raises the revenues needed to finance government spending in a manner that is as simple, equitable, stable, and conducive to economic growth as possible. But the challenge for the next President will be to make reform work not just in the abstract, but in the real world, where special interests often rule the roost. The next President should support reforms that would tax all income once (only) at the full tax rate, simplify and streamline the tax code, and, of course, raise sufficient revenues. To achieve these goals, the package of specific reforms proposed in this paper would:
tax all new corporate investment income only once
remove all corporate subsidies in the Code and strengthen corporate anti- sheltering provisions
integrate payroll and income taxes for individuals
introduce return-free filing for many taxpayers
consolidate and streamline tax subsidies for education, retirement and families
eliminate or revise various tax deductions
create a value-added tax that would, eventually, raise 5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in revenues
+ Fact Sheet
An analysis of voters’ views on unions and other pertinent issues in light of Democratic candidates’ efforts to win union support.
Seven Democratic candidates met on Soldier Field in Chicago on Tuesday to address a predominantly union audience at a candidate forum sponsored by the AFL-CIO. While membership in labor unions nationally has been declining in recent decades, nearly two-in-10 self-described Democrats (18%) live in households with a union member, according to a January poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
This primer on health care costs examines the rapid growth in the nation’s health care costs since 1970, when the average growth in health spending exceeded the growth of the economy as a whole by an average of 2.5 percentage points. It also examines the impact of health care costs on families, with insurance premiums rising 87% between 2000 and 2006, more than four times the growth in wages.
The primer describes the types and sources of health care spending and the demographic factors associated with higher or lower levels of spending. It also discusses other factors that influence health care spending growth, including the use of new medical technology, population changes, and changes in disease prevalence.
From press release:
Marking the 42nd anniversary of the Medicare program Monday, July 30th, AARP released new research that examines the future of Medicare through the eyes of 20 national health policy experts. “The Future of Medicare: Report on Expert Views” found no single answer to preserve Medicare for future generations, but those interviewed agreed there are several areas where Medicare can make improvements to help the program.
This report reviews more than 50 studies over the last decade and demonstrates a disturbing and consistent pattern: sexual orientation-based and gender identity discrimination is a common occurrence in many workplaces across the country. Surveys of GLBT individuals, studies of the sexual orientation earnings gap, and controlled experiments all provide evidence of discriminatory treatment.
Though most do not recognize it as an “urban” program, the Earned Income Tax Credit provides significant benefits to families in cities and suburbs, and stimulates local economic activity. In this presentation to Congressional staff organized by Living Cities, Alan Berube examines what Members can do to maximize the benefits of the EITC for lower-income families and communities in their districts.