2014 August Budget & Tax News

Issue Date: 
August, 2014
Newspaper PDF: 

The August issue of Budget & Tax News reports on the looming (September 2014) expiration of the federal government’s surface transportation program and what Congress might do to ensure it does not lapse. Reporter Kenneth Orski notes, “Enacting a multi-year reauthorization at current spending levels faces long odds in this election year.”

Also in this issue:

  • Recent action in Congress may catalyze increased private investment in the United States’ water and wastewater infrastructure.
  • In 2012 President Barack Obama claimed “right-to-work” laws mean “giving you the right to work for less money.” But government data prove him wrong, showing right-to-work states have stronger income growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, between 1990 and 2013, inflation-adjusted per-capita personal income in all right-to-work states grew by 30.7 percent, compared to 27.5 percent in all forced-unionization states.
  • A proposal to overhaul Pennsylvania’s public-sector pension plans would scrap the current defined-benefit pension systems in favor of a so-called “stacked hybrid” pension plan that would incorporate elements of the current system and the 401(k) plans more commonly found in the private sector. The Public Employees Retirement Commission published an actuarial analysis of the plan, which forecasts long-term savings of about $11 billion over the next 30 years, with most of the savings being realized more than two decades from now.
  • Even though most empirical studies on tax incentives “find that they have little or no effect on employment or the economy as a whole,” states and local governments have been steadily increasing the number of taxpayer handouts to select businesses. Furthermore, the practice “sows the seed of cronyism, the established practice of exchanging favors between powerful people in politics and business,” write the authors of a new report on targeted economic development incentives.
  • Property rights in Minnesota received added protections when Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law SF 874, requiring property owners to be convicted of a drug crime before their property can be seized through forfeiture. The law went into effect August 1.

Newspaper Articles in this Issue