As Cuomo Banks on Federal Funds, Localities Grow Nervous

Link: https://www.governing.com/finance/As-Cuomo-Banks-on-Federal-Funds-Localities-Grow-Nervous.html

Excerpt:

 Receive from above, take from below. Such is the essence of one theme of the 2021 state budget plan unveiled last week by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The Democratic governor’s budget plan has a basic premise: Red ink will be washed away only if his request for a bailout from the federal government happens.

Cuomo’s new budget assumes the federal government will give New York at least $6 billion over two years as part of a broader $1.9 trillion Covid-related stimulus package being negotiated by Democratic President Joseph Biden and the Democratic-led Congress.

Author(s): TOM PRECIOUS, THE BUFFALO NEWS

Publication Date: 25 January 2021

Publication Site: Governing

The Supreme Court Decision That Saved States Billions

Link: https://www.governing.com/finance/The-Supreme-Court-Decision-That-Saved-States-Billions.html

Excerpt:

The 2018 Supreme Court decision, in South Dakota v. Wayfair, overturned prior decisions that had made it impossible for states to collect sales taxes from remote sellers. They certainly tried in different ways, but were shot down by various courts. It was the long-sought Wayfair decision, as it’s known, that opened the door for states to collect taxes on most online sales.

“Prior to the Wayfair decision, although some ecommerce sellers were going down the path of starting to collect sales tax on their sales, online sales was still a potential avenue to avoid the sales tax,” says Chuck Maniace, vice president of regulatory analysis at Sovos, a tax compliance firm.

Wayfair allows states to demand that businesses without a physical presence collect and remit taxes, assuming they make at least $100,000 worth of in-state sales. Following the decision, large states such as California and Texas have set the threshold higher, at $500,000. States differ in terms of how many in-state transactions can take place before a seller has to collect taxes (generally, about 200).

Author(s): ALAN GREENBLATT

Publication Date: 22 January 2021

Publication Site: Governing

As New York Unemployment Fraud Surges, Victims Want Help

Link: https://www.governing.com/work/As-New-York-Unemployment-Fraud-Surges-Victims-Want-Help.html

Excerpt:

Many law enforcement agencies are continuing to see a high rate of identification-theft cases involving individuals whose personal information was illegally used to apply for unemployment benefits during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the recent cases are coming to light when individuals are receiving bank debit cards or paperwork in the mail indicating they were approved for federal pandemic unemployment assistance that they never applied for.

In other instances described by law enforcement officials, victims are learning they have been defrauded when they receive tax forms instructing them that the unemployment benefits they received last year are reportable income — although those individuals were not aware that someone had applied for or received the benefits using their identity. In some cases, multiple individuals from the same organizations — school districts, professional firms or government agencies — were victimized. That, according to law enforcement experts, could be tied to data breaches involving those entities.

Author(s): BRENDAN J. LYONS, TIMES UNION

Publication Date: 10 February 2021

Publication Site: Governing

L.A. Tries to Combat Racial Inequities of COVID Inoculations

Link: https://www.governing.com/community/LA-Tries-to-Combat-Racial-Inequities-of-COVID-Inoculations.html

Excerpt:

As stark disparities emerge in vaccination rates, L.A. County officials are jump-starting efforts to improve access for people of color. Strategies include creating more vaccination sites as well as better public messaging campaigns, improving access to transportation and reserving spots at neighborhood vaccination locations before people from other parts of the county can scoop them up.

“We have a lot of work to do to fix this,” L.A. County public health director Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday at a county Board of Supervisors meeting. “However way you cut this data, it’s clear that in some of our hardest-hit communities, there are populations that are not getting vaccinated at the same rate as other groups.”

On Tuesday morning, Darby stood in line yet again, this time at a vaccination blitz in South Park aimed at administering doses to 800 seniors, particularly Blacks and Latinos, as well as healthcare workers in four days. Though there are historical and cultural issues that may make Black residents skeptical of vaccines, the biggest issue in L.A. County thus far has been access, said Councilman Curren Price, who helped plan the event.

Author(s): RUBEN VIVES, JACLYN COSGROVE AND SOUMYA KARLAMANGLA, LOS ANGELES TIMES

Publication Date: 10 February 2021

Publication Site: Governing

Can Vaccines Keep Up With Rapidly Evolving Coronavirus?

Link: https://www.governing.com/now/Can-Vaccines-Keep-Up-With-Rapidly-Evolving-Coronavirus.html

Excerpt:

Experts told cleveland.com that although the virus may continue to mutate, there’s no reason to think it will render the vaccines ineffective. Pharmaceutical companies are already in the process of updating their vaccines to provide protection against the emerging variants, but the existing vaccines should provide enough protection to get the pandemic under control.

The prevalence of variants is partly the result of a global failure to contain the spread of COVID-19, experts said. The virus has had ample opportunity to evolve while infecting more than 100 million people worldwide.

Vaccines should limit the spread of infection, and that should reduce the chance that another concerning variant might emerge, said Gigi Gronvall, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. There will be even fewer chances for those mutations to occur if everyone who is still waiting for a vaccine continues to follow precautions like wearing face masks.

Author(s): EVAN MACDONALD AND JULIE WASHINGTON, CLEVELAND.COM

Publication Date: 10 February 2021

Publication Site: Governing

Public Health Systems Still Aren’t Ready for the Next Pandemic

Link: https://www.governing.com/next/Public-Health-Systems-Still-Arent-Ready-for-the-Next-Pandemic.html

Excerpt:

Like public health officials everywhere, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin marvels at the miraculous production of highly effective vaccines against COVID-19 in mere months.

But Duchin, head of public health in Seattle and King County, Washington, doesn’t dwell on the only triumph of the pandemic response. Instead, he quickly pivots to the huge deficiencies plaguing the rollout of those lifesaving injections.

The lack of planning and coordination. The insufficient workforce and training. The inadequate public messaging and outreach. And the failure to create a uniform database to track inventory and equitably distribute shots.

“We’re seeing the consequences now of a complete and utter failure to ensure we have a full and robust vaccination system,” Duchin said. The chaotic execution of state and local vaccination programs is only the latest in a series of missteps by public health departments during the worst pandemic in more than a century. They include lackluster testing, contact tracing and data collection, and the failure to protect minority communities, which have borne the brunt of this disease.

Author(s): MICHAEL OLLOVE AND CHRISTINE VESTAL

Publication Date: 1 February 2021

Publication Site: Governing