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Thursday, September 24, 2015
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Blinken Report: States Struggling With Slow Fiscal Recovery
Despite the rising U.S. stock market and the fifth year of continuous growth in employment, state and local governments still face enormous fiscal challenges, including slow growth in tax revenues, cuts in most areas of spending, and difficulties in performing essential functions. Conditions will likely be inadequate to restore state government spending cuts, fund infrastructure expansion, pay for growth in Medicaid, and cover insufficiently funded public pensions, making the choices available to states even harder. This is the second of an ongoing series of reports funded by former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Donald Blinken and his wife, Vera, longtime supporters of the Rockefeller Institute.
Windfall “April Surprises” Despite Weak Withholding and Weak Fiscal Climate
States that collect personal income taxes faced widespread income tax shortfalls last year and income tax windfalls this year, according to a Rockefeller Institute report. The study — Windfall “April Surprises” — examined January to April tax collections for 38 of the 41 states that impose broad-based personal income taxes. It showed income tax growth of 11.5 percent, or $13.2 billion, compared to the same period a year earlier. However, state forecasters should be careful not to overestimate revenues for future years and elected officials should not build budgets based on windfall revenues.
Partnerships with Private Sector Fuel Arkansas’s Expanded Health Care Coverage
A report released by the Rockefeller Institute of Government and the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) reveals significant collaboration between Arkansas’s public and private sectors to expand health care coverage through the Health Care Independence Program (commonly known as the “private option”) and the federally facilitated marketplace partnership. The political environment in Arkansas that led to decisions related to the ACA are detailed in the report, along with the fluid status of the state’s pioneering decisions in light of recent leadership transitions and uncertainty at the federal level.
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The Institute in the news...
The Huffington Post cites Institute state revenue research in this story on state budget shortfalls.
Institute Deputy Director Robert Bullock is quoted on the Institute’s plans to inform the electorate about the upcoming 2017 constitutional convention ballot proposal.
Institute Senior Researcher Don Boyd, co-author of the Blinken Reports, comments on the pension crisis facing many states.
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