The Williams Report
A look at fiscal headlines from statehouses nationwide
Illinois: Governor Signs Stopgap Budget — But Relief from Stalemate Proves Temporary
A deal cut by Illinois lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner will keep state government running for another six months. Just minutes after the spending measure was signed, the two sides resumed trading barbs.
Massachusetts: Baker ‘Rightsizes’ the State Budget
Governor Baker signed a $38.92 billion state budget last week, after cutting $256 million from the original bill. The savings resulted from roughly 300 line items and 500 earmarks vetoed.
North Carolina: Governor Signs State Budget
Governor Pat McCrory signed a $22.3 billion state budget into law on Thursday. The budget includes raises for teachers and state workers, as well as a middle class tax cut.
Pennsylvania: Vape Shops Hit Especially Hard by New Taxes in State Budget
In the aftermath of product-specific tax hikes, “vape shops” across Pennsylvania are struggling to remain afloat. Vaporized nicotine is often used by those looking to quit smoking, and yet it is treated the same as cigarettes under the new law. Even nicotine-free vapor products are now heavily taxed.
Texas: Budget Dance Begins
It’s time for the “Texas Budget Two-Step,” according Watchdog.org’s Mark Lasheron. The dance began with a joint letter from the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House to every government agency, calling for 4 percent reductions in their spending requests. Various interests groups have already responded with panic.
National: The Funding of State and Local Pensions: 2015-2020
A new study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College finds the funded status of state pension plans further declined in 2015 under new GASB rules. The study authors warn that, if markets fail to recover this year, “funding will drift lower.”
California: CalSTRS Tanking Teachers Pensions to be Politically Correct
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System has pledged to invest heavily in “low-carbon strategies” both at home and abroad. “The losers will be the retirees and the taxpayers,” writes the California Political Review. “CalSTRS, the teachers’ pension system does not even pretend to be investing for the betterment of the retirees.”
Illinois: State Pension Reform Needed to Avoid ‘Catastrophic’ Fate
A new report from Taxpayers United of America (TUA) confirms the unsustainability of public pensions in Illinois. Jared Labell, TUA’s executive director, specifically faults Article XIII, Section 5 of the state constitution, which “unfairly chains generations of taxpayers to an uncontrolled financial burden created by the disastrous decisions of politicians in Springfield.”
New Jersey: Pension Reform at a Crossroads in the Garden State
Erica Jedynak asks her fellow New Jerseyans: “Do we have the courage to reform a broken pension system that’s driving us towards insolvency?”
Rhode Island: Worried About Risk, Pension Fund Managers Mull Conservative Investment Approach
General Treasurer Seth Magaziner stressed the need to be “a little more risk-averse,” but did not say projected returns should be lowered accordingly.