Archive for the ‘State Governments / Deficits’ Category

THE UNSUNG HEROES – REPUBLICAN STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

 

The Last Redoubt

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JERRY BROWN STANDS ATOP CALIFORNIA’S COLLAPSING HOUSE OF CARDS

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

 

 

 

Thomas Del Beccaro

Thomas Del Beccaro, Contributor

I try to place politics in perspective.

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7/08/2013 @ 8:00AM |43,549 views

Jerry Brown Stands Atop California’s Collapsing House Of Cards

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 11:  California Gover...

California Governor Jerry Brown. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Jerry Brown, soon to be California’s longest-serving Governor, is obsessed with his legacy. Legacies, however, are judged retrospectively. For now, Brown has been receiving much credit nationally for “balancing” the budget. In truth, the budget is not really balanced and Brown is setting California up to fall like a house of cards.

Jerry Brown certainly is having a good year in the media. This year, PBS told us: “Gov. Jerry Brown Makes Tough Choices to Balance State Budget.” The Atlantic recently heralded: “California’s New ‘Problem’: Jerry Brown on the Sudden Surplus.” Even BusinessWeek proclaimed that Jerry Brown had “Scared California Straight” and that “Jerry Brown Stays Stern on California’s Budget Surplus.”

Brown has received such praise in connection with the California budget process this year, and the ruling Democrats’ self-proclaimed budget balancing. The real score in California, however, demonstrates that the budget is not really balanced and there is nothing but trouble ahead.

First, to use Jerry Brown’s own words, California has a “wall of debt,” which doesn’t include unfunded pension and medical liability – and that wall of debt is NOT included in the budget. The total amount of that debt is somewhere in the $27 billion range and includes over $10 billion owed to the federal government. That money was used to fund California’s Unemployment Insurance Fund, and California seems to have no plan to pay it back – a sort of “reverse” unfunded mandate, if you will. (more…)

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Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

 

The Wall Street Journal

  • March 30, 2013

The Debt Bomb That Taxpayers Won’t See

Coming

State and local governments owe $7.3 trillion in promises they’ve made that were never approved by taxpayers.

By STEVEN MALANGA

Mr. Malanga is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. This column is adapted from a forthcoming issue of City Journal, where he is a senior editor.

 

EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE:  A December report by the States Project, a joint venture of Harvard’s Institute of Politics and the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government, estimated that state and local governments now owe in sum a staggering $7.3 trillion. Incredibly, the vast majority of this debt has never been approved by taxpayers, who are often unaware of the extent of their obligations.

Most state constitutions and many municipal charters limit borrowing and mandate voter approval. No matter. Politicians evade the limits, issuing billions of dollars in municipal offerings never approved by voters, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Courts have rubber-stamped many of these schemes.

Earlier this month, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Illinois officials with making misleading statements to bond investors about the state’s pension system. The agency detailed a long list of deceptive practices including failure to tell investors that the system was so underfunded that it risked bankruptcy.

Illinois taxpayers, as well as the holders of its debt, will ultimately bear the burden of the officials’ misdeeds. But there is nothing unique about the Prairie State. For years, elected officials in states and municipalities across the country have been imprudently piling up obligations that are imposing serious strains on budgets, prompting higher taxes and cutbacks in services.

In January, city officials in Sacramento, California’s capital, reported the results of a study they had commissioned on all the debt that the municipality had incurred. At a City Council meeting that the Sacramento Bee reported as “sobering,” the city manager explained that Sacramento had racked up some $2 billion in obligations (mostly pensions and retiree health care). All this for a municipality of 477,000 residents with an annual general fund budget of just $366 million.

Sacramento finances are already stretched—the city has cut some 1,200 workers, or 20% of its workforce, in the past several years. Servicing its debt in years to come will only add more woe, especially given the intractability of public unions. The budget report noted that “While reducing staff is clearly not the preferred method for reducing costs, the city has a very limited ability to reduce the cost of labor absent cooperation from the city’s employee groups.”

According to studies by the Pew Center on the States, states and the biggest cities have made nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars in promises to pay for retiree health-care insurance. Yet governments have set aside only about 5% of the money they’ll need to pay for these promises. (more…)

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THE RED-STATE PATH TO PROSPERITY

Friday, March 29th, 2013

 

The Wall Street Journal

  • March 28, 2013

Laffer and Moore: The Red-State Path to

Prosperity

Blue states with high taxes are struggling to compete for businesses and workers.

By ARTHUR B. LAFFER
AND STEPHEN MOORE

EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE:  Among the 10 fastest-growing metro areas last year were Raleigh, Austin, Las Vegas, Orlando, Charlotte, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas. All of these are in low-tax, business-friendly red states. Blue-state areas such as Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, Providence and Rochester were among the biggest population losers. 

You can tell a lot about prosperity in America by observing the places people are moving to and where they are packing up and moving from. New Census Bureau data on metropolitan areas indicate that the South and the Sunbelt regions continue to grow, while the Northeast and Midwest continue to shrink.

Among the 10 fastest-growing metro areas last year were Raleigh, Austin, Las Vegas, Orlando, Charlotte, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas. All of these are in low-tax, business-friendly red states. Blue-state areas such as Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, Providence and Rochester were among the biggest population losers. 

This migration isn’t accidental. Workers and business owners are responding to clear economic incentives. Red states in the Southeast and Sunbelt are following the Reagan model by reducing tax rates and easing regulations. They also offer right-to-work laws as an enticement for businesses to come and set up shop. Meanwhile, the blue states of the Northeast, joined by California, Minnesota and Illinois, are implementing the Obama model of raising taxes on businesses and the wealthy to fund government “investments” and union power.

The contrast sets up a wonderful natural laboratory to test rival economic ideas. (more…)

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OBAMACARE’S MEDICAID EXPANSION EXPLAINED

Monday, March 11th, 2013

 

OBAMACARE’S MEDICAID EXPANSION EXPLAINED –   by John Hood,    Carolina Journal

 

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FLORIDA’S RICK SCOTT IS WRONG ABOUT HIS MEDICAID DECISION

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

 

The Right Prescription

Rick Scott Is Wrong

By on 2.26.13

Betsy McCaughey is a former Lt. Governor of New York and author of Beating Obamacare.

 

Governors buying into Medicaid expansion are acting venally and short-sightedly.

On Fox News’ “Special Report” columnist Charles Krauthammer said it was “honorable” for Florida Governor Rick Scott to recommend the state buy into the Obama health law’s Medicaid expansion, despite Scott’s earlier opposition. In truth Scott’s decision is venal and short sighted. If the Florida legislature agrees to expand Medicaid, it will doom Florida to bankruptcy and Floridians to enormous state tax hikes in the coming years. The expansion will add 42% to the state’s Medicaid enrollment.

Packing the Medicaid rolls is Obamacare’s primary way of dealing with the uninsured. The law lays out a red carpet for politicians to expand their state’s Medicaid programs, adding richer benefits and many more enrollees. The health law promises the federal government will pay 100% of the cost of the expansion until 2018, and then 90% of the cost thereafter. That’s a 9-to-1 match.

In the past, states have set eligibility rules based on what state budgets can handle. This expansion puts the feds in control, and it’s way beyond what states can afford.

That’s why this red carpet invitation is a trap. The federal government usually breaks its promises. What will happen then? It’s inconceivable that states will be able to undo the expansion and reduce the burden. Taking back entitlements is generally a political impossibility. Instead state taxpayers will be clobbered with huge new bills. (more…)

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VIDEO – WELFARE RECIPIENTS SPENDING BIG $$$$ ON SWANKY VACATIONS

Monday, February 25th, 2013

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ECONOMIC JUDGEMENT DAY

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

 

Economic Judgment Day

Richard W. Rahn is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth
EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE: The Departments of Defense, State and Justice are authorized by the Constitution and are generally accepted legitimate federal government functions. Most of the rest ought to be done at the state and local levels or by the private sector. The current spending and debt crisis eventually will force debate on the role of the federal government — which programs necessitate taxpayer funding and which can be eliminated. The time is closer than most think — just ask any Greek citizen or resident of Stockton, Calif.
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The current debate about the debt vote is minor league compared to what will happen when the government literally cannot spend more than it is taking in. That time may be nearer than you think. It is true that the U.S. government can always “print” money to pay its bills, but at some point, printing more money becomes self-defeating because the resulting increase in the government bond interest rate and required interest payment will spiral out of control. At that point, the government will be forced to operate on a pay-as-you-go basis, as any individual or business is forced to do when they can no longer get credit. Several California cities are now in this situation.

The U.S. government now receives about $200 billion a month in revenue and spends about $320 billion a month. Any responsible business or individual faced with a situation where receipts are only 60 percent of expenditures would make changes before their credit was cut off or, at the very minimum, have a plan for which bills to pay first — but not the U.S. government.

It appears that President Obama is once again going to produce a budget that assumes very high levels of deficit spending can go on forever. It also appears that Senate Democrats will continue to not bother to pass a budget. Note that the purpose of a budget is to allocate scarce resources (your money) and to make sure that spending does not exceed the funds that are available. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the ultimate spoiled child, accusing the taxpayers of engaging in child abuse by not giving him an unlimited allowance. (more…)

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REFORM IS UNDERWAY IN NORTH CAROLINA

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

 

Townhall.com logo
January 30, 2013

In Some GOP Circles, Reform Is Already

Underway

By Byron York

1/28/2013

The Republican National Committee chose to hold its recent winter meeting in Charlotte because North Carolina was a rare bright spot in last year’s presidential election. Although it was the high-profile site of the Democratic National Convention, North Carolina became one of just two states won by Barack Obama in 2008 that went for Mitt Romney in 2012. (The other was Indiana.) So being in North Carolina made Republicans feel a little better.But not much. The 168 members of the RNC grappled with the consequences of losing the presidential race, losing the Senate and losing seats in the House. Everybody knew something was wrong with the party. To fix things, some emphasized outreach to Hispanics. Some emphasized modernized voter turnout efforts. Some emphasized the search for better candidates. No one pushed just one solution; most saw the answer as a mix of those and other ideas.

But they might also start by asking themselves the most basic of questions: Other factors aside, did Republicans in 2012 address the concerns of the overwhelming majority of Americans who cite the economy and jobs as the nation’s most pressing issue?

The answer, mostly, is no. But some Republicans did. At the RNC’s opening night event, at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, members heard from one of those Republicans, new North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.

McCrory first ran for the state’s top office in 2008. He lost to Democrat Bev Perdue in what became a brutal lesson in the overwhelming power of the Obama wave. “In ’08, I got killed by the Obama ground machine,” McCrory recalls. “We didn’t even know it was happening. The amount of money Obama put on the ground was something we’ve never seen before in North Carolina.”

 

Defeated, McCrory reassessed and decided to run again in 2012. But he knew he had to run a smarter race the second time around. He started earlier. He thought through his positions and the way he articulated them. He built relationships with more people across the state. He worked harder.

The new and improved McCrory stressed jobs, the economy and education. He highlighted — and did not run from — his 14 years of experience as mayor of Charlotte, even though that big-city resume was not a plus with many rural voters. He took advantage of Perdue’s disastrously bad performance as governor. And on Election Day, McCrory defeated Democratic rival Walter Dalton by nearly 12 points. (more…)

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9 STATES LEAD THE WAY TO TAX REFORM

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

 

The Wall Street Journal

  •  January 30, 2013

The State Tax Reformers

More Governors look to repeal their income taxes.

  • EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE:  A new analysis by economist Art Laffer for the American Legislative Exchange Council finds that, from 2002 to 2012, 62% of the three million net new jobs in America were created in the nine states without an income tax, though these states account for only about 20% of the national population. The no-income tax states have had more stable revenue growth, while states like New York, New Jersey and California that depend on the top 1% of earners for nearly half of their income-tax revenue suffer wide and destabilizing swings in their tax collections.

    In the case of North Carolina, a new study by the Civitas Institute concludes that a tax reform that shifts more of the burden to consumption from income would increase average annual personal income growth by 0.38% to 0.66%. That’s enormous over time and would lead to much higher state tax revenues. North Carolina’s top income tax rate is 7.75%, which is higher than that of most nearby states that it competes with for investment. Virginia’s top rate is 5.75% while Tennessee has no personal income tax.

Washington may be a tax reform wasteland, but out in the states the action is hot and heavy. Nine states—including such fast-growing places as Florida, Tennessee and Texas—currently have no income tax, and the race is on to see which will be the tenth, and perhaps the 11th and 12th.

Oklahoma and Kansas have lowered their income-tax rates in the last two years with an aim toward eliminating the tax altogether. North Carolina’s newly elected Republican Governor Pat McCrory has prioritized tax reform this year and wants to reduce the income tax. Ditto for another newcomer, Mike Pence of Indiana, who has called for a 10% income-tax rate cut. Susana Martinez, New Mexico’s Republican Governor, has called for slashing the state corporate tax to 4.9% from 7.6%, and the first Republican-controlled legislature since Reconstruction in Arkansas is considering chopping its tax rates by as much as half.

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Associated PressLouisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (more…)

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