State Revenue Is ‘Virtually Flat.’ Local Government Revenue Is Up Slightly. Congress Wants To Give Them $350 Billion Anyway.

Excerpt:

Indeed, an analysis from the National Taxpayers Union’s Andrew Lautz has found that when accounting for states’ rainy day funds and steady revenues, only about $6 to $16 billion (not the proposed $195 billion) would be needed to make those governments whole.

Lautz also argues it’s inappropriate to divvy up money to states based only on their number of unemployed residents, given that the jobless are already receiving targeted benefits and that those benefits are themselves helping to prop up states’ tax revenues.

“Individuals who want a job and don’t have one are certainly struggling right now, but the [$900 billion] December bill and the proposed COVID-19 relief package support them with a $300 or $400 per week boost to their regular unemployment benefits,” writes Lautz. “The $600-per-week benefit from the CARES Act helped prevent major state revenue dropoffs in part because it allowed unemployed people to continue spending at rates similar to before they lost their jobs.”

Author(s): CHRISTIAN BRITSCHGI

Publication Date: 8 March 2021

Publication Site: Reason

Testimony Before a Subcommittee of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee

Link: https://www.manhattan-institute.org/hendrix-tax-tools-local-governments-ways-and-means

PDF of testimony: https://waysandmeans.house.gov/sites/democrats.waysandmeans.house.gov/files/documents/Michael%20Hendrix%20Testimony.pdf

Excerpt:

While America’s real GDP fell in 2020, states and local tax receipts actually increased—once you add in federal aid, revenues actually grew by nearly 10 percent. As their costs from fighting the pandemic grew and layoffs loomed, Congress rightly stepped up to help. There’s been $360 billion in direct relief for Covid-19 and hundreds of billions more in indirect aid—all told, Washington sent more than $1 trillion to states and localities last year.

Author(s): Michael Hendrix

Publication Date: 11 March 2021

Publication Site: Manhattan Institute

Schumer spokesman: Federal pandemic relief eliminates NYS deficit

Link: https://nypost.com/2021/03/08/schumer-federal-pandemic-relief-eliminates-nys-deficit/

Excerpt:

The American Rescue Plan provides state government coffers with $12.6 billion in unrestricted aid, a measure championed by Schumer, the New York senior senator. The measure passed the Senate in a 50-49 vote and is expected to clear the Democratic-led House of Representatives on Tuesday and delivered to President Biden for approval.

Asked if the geyser of pandemic relief eliminates the needs for tax hikes or spending cuts, Roefaro told The Post, “the statement speaks for itself.”

Roefaro continued, “How NY decides its budgetary policy is a matter for the state legislature and the administration. Our job was to deliver resources to help NY confront and overcome Covid and it’s impacts, including the fiscal impact. And we did that fully and completely.”

Author(s): Carl Campanile, Bernadette Hogan

Publication Date: 8 March 2021

Publication Site: NY Post

Durbin, Duckworth Announce Illinois Wins In COVID-19 Relief Bill

Link: https://www.durbin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/durbin-duckworth-announce-illinois-wins-in-covid-19-relief-bill#new_tab

Excerpt:

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today released the following statements after the Senate passed President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which will provide emergency relief to Illinois:

…..

To avoid dramatic budget cuts at every level of government:

Estimated $13.2 billion in state and local funding for Illinois including $1.8 billion for Chicago.

The bill provides an estimated $7.5 billion for the state and $5.5 billion for Illinois locals ($2.3 billion for counties; $2.4 billion for larger cities; $681 million for smaller municipalities).

…..

Multiemployer Pension Relief: 

By prolonging the solvency of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), more than 100,000 Illinoisans will have their hard-earned pension benefits preserved 

Author(s): Dick Durbin, Tammy Duckworth

Publication Date: 6 March 2021

Publication Site: Dick Durbin’s Senate Office

With Congress poised to give states and local governments $350 billion, pandemic budget hit for many was smaller than predicted

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/05/politics/state-budgets-covid-relief-package/index.html

Excerpt:

“If the point of the stimulus bill is to just prevent state and local governments from having to cut back on spending or having to implement tax increases, then the $350 billion is way too much,” said Dan White, director of public-sector research at Moody’s Analytics. “Is that money better spent directly in terms of federal fiscal stimulus, as opposed to it flowing through states? If you use that money for PPP or for enhanced unemployment insurance, does it have a bigger bang for the buck in terms of economic stimulus?”

Moody’s Analytics now pegs the state and local budget shortfall at $61 billion when taking existing federal help into account. The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently estimated that the budget gap is around $225 billion, but it noted that that doesn’t include states’ and localities’ costs to continue fighting the virus or helping their struggling residents and businesses.

Author(s):  Tami Luhby

Publication Date: 5 March 2021

Publication Site: CNN

Our View: Federal stimulus checks should not increase state taxes

Link: https://www.bluemountaineagle.com/coronavirus/our-view-federal-stimulus-checks-should-not-increase-state-taxes/article_5efb3986-7ae2-11eb-9c94-e30cd7275f13.html

Excerpt:

The federal stimulus checks helped a lot of Oregonians out when they needed it. And it is also going to help out Oregon government — about $100 million in federal stimulus payments is going to wind up in the state treasury.

The federal government is not taxing the stimulus payments. In Oregon, they are not taxed as income, either. But the payments can impact the federal tax calculations used on your Oregon income tax. And so the stimulus payment may mean you owe state tax on more of your income and wind up paying more taxes or get a reduced refund.

Does that sound right to you? The stimulus checks sure seemed to be aimed at helping individuals, not helping state government.

Author(s): Editorial board

Publication Date: 2 March 2021

Publication Site: Blue Mountain Eagle

Editorial: The dangers of an oversized stimulus package and a lesson from Illinois — yes, Illinois!

Link: https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/editorials/ct-editorial-stimulus-payments-1400-economy-20210210-3jtgubimtjgi5deaigdplzilpe-story.html#new_tab

Excerpt:

Look at Illinois, of all places. Next week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker plans to introduce his budget for the next fiscal year. While the details are sketchy, his office estimates the state will need to close a $3 billion deficit, less than the $5.5 billion his office originally estimated. A stronger than expected economy is partly due the credit. While closing a $3 billion hole is not great news, we’ll take what we can get around here.

Yet, rather than take into account rosier economic pictures states like Illinois are projecting, Democrats in Washington are pressing for another big spending bill, even as they juggle the other big news of the week, the start of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate. They insist an undersized response during the Great Recession slowed that recovery. But keep in mind during that far worse slump, President Barack Obama’s stimulus program had a price tag around $800 billion. Since the pandemic hit, by contrast, Congress has responded with $4 trillion in new outlays.

Does that sound like “too little?” More than $1 trillion of that sum has not even been spent yet, according to the Committee For a Responsible Federal Budget.

Author(s): Editorial board

Publication Date: 10 February 2021

Publication Site: Chicago Tribune

Virus Did Not Bring Financial Rout That Many States Feared

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/01/business/covid-state-tax-revenue.html

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Throughout the debate over stimulus measures, one question has repeatedly brought gridlock in Washington: Should the states get no-strings federal aid?

Republicans have mostly said no, casting it as a bailout for spendthrift blue states. Democrats have argued the opposite, saying that states face dire fiscal consequences without aid, and included $350 billion in relief for state and local governments in President Biden’s $1.9 trillion federal stimulus bill, which narrowly passed the House this past weekend. It faces a much tougher fight in the Senate.

As it turns out, new data shows that a year after the pandemic wrought economic devastation around the country, forcing states to revise their revenue forecasts and prepare for the worst, for many the worst didn’t come. One big reason: $600-a-week federal supplements that allowed people to keep spending — and states to keep collecting sales tax revenue — even when they were jobless, along with the usual state unemployment benefits.

Author(s): Mary Williams Walsh, Karl Russell

Publication Date: 1 March 2021

Publication Site: New York Times

When ‘closing corporate loopholes’ goes wrong

Link: https://www.chicagobusiness.com/greg-hinz-politics/when-closing-corporate-loopholes-goes-wrong

Excerpt:

And that’s the context of that big $932 million tax hike on business Gov. J.B. Pritzker is pushing as part of his proposed 2022 budget.

Pritzker calls the proposal “closing corporate loopholes.” Arguably that’s true, at least in the sense that any tax break I don’t receive must be someone else’s undeserved loophole. But the proposal comes at the very time when population and jobs have begun to drop not only statewide but in the metropolitan area, and at a time when the state refuses to confront its ever-rising pension debt. Not to mention Chicago’s murder and car-jacking wave. Or what Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi is up to.

…..

In fairness to Pritzker, Illinois is not the only state to be moving its tax structure in his proposed direction, at least in part. For instance, according to the Tax Foundation, a Washington research group that’s fairly conservative but also frequently cited in economic circles, only 16 states grant the full accelerated depreciation that’s now in federal tax code. Pritzker’s proposed change there is worth $214 million a year.

Author(s): Greg Hinz

Publication Date:

Publication Site: Crain’s Chicago Business

Tax Hikes for High Earners Are on the Table in Some States

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/tax-hikes-for-high-earners-are-on-the-table-in-some-states-11614162600

Excerpt:

Budgetary pressures vary greatly, despite calls for more federal aid in general and tax hikes in some locales. In New York, state revenue collected from April through December 2020 was 4.1% lower than in the year-earlier period, according to data from the Urban Institute think tank.

In New Jersey, the drop was 2.4%. With tax revenue outperforming earlier projections, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday proposed making a full payment to the state’s pension system for the first time since 1996. California has done even better, with revenue collections growing 1.2%.

While a governor can call on lawmakers to raise taxes, the odds of success for the various proposals depend partly on which parties control state legislative chambers. Additionally, Democrats in Congress have pushed to include money for cities and states in an economic-recovery package, which could shift the equation.

Author(s): Karen Langley

Publication Date: 24 February 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Does Every State Really Need a Big Biden Bailout?

Link: https://www.governing.com/finance/Does-Every-State-Really-Need-a-Big-Biden-Bailout.html

Excerpt:

Then there are states like Hawaii, where cratering tourism has left the state in a $1.8 billion budget hole, with tax revenues not expected to recover until 2024. Florida and Nevada are also missing their frequent flyers after tax receipts plummeted by 7.9 percent and 13 percent, respectively. States dependent on taxing energy and mining, such as Alaska, North Dakota, Texas and West Virginia, have seen their own devastating budget hits. And sales-tax-dependent states like New York wound up in worse shape than those reliant on less volatile revenue streams like Vermont, where 32 percent of revenues come from property taxes. In all, 26 states saw their tax revenues decline in the first 10 months of 2020.

But every state’s been a winner this past year with the federal government, whose aid to states and localities rose an astonishing 42 percent. What might have been a $331 billion budget shortfall due to COVID-19 instead came to a $165.5 billion dip, according to Moody’s, and that’s before counting $79 billion in state rainy day funds. Federal aid also propped up businesses and households, which led to economic activity and hiring that boosted state and local tax revenues, while also hiking taxable unemployment benefits. Having the Federal Reserve goose the stock and housing markets with super-low interest rates didn’t hurt either.

Author(s): MICHAEL HENDRIX, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE

Publication Date: 24 February 2021

Publication Site: Governing