Connecticut Renters Struggle to Find Affordable Housing

Renters in Connecticut are short on options with prices soaring.

“Currently, Connecticut has a shortage of 85,000 units of affordable housing for those families that earn an income of 80% or below the AMI,” Renée Dobos, CEO of Connecticut Housing Partners, told The Center Square. AMI is an acronym for area medium income.

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Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Releases June Revenue Numbers

The Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration announced Friday that overall June state tax revenues exceeded budgeted estimates. On an accrual basis, June is the 11th month in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

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Communities Grant Program to Send $45 Million to 12 Connecticut Cities for Improvement Projects

Ned Lamont

A total of 12 cities will be receiving funding through Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s new grant program.

The governor announced $45 million will be awarded through the Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant Program, which works to leverage $74 million in nonstate, private funding to prop up projects aimed at improving livability and vibrance of cities.

“Investing in our communities is a key part of our plan to accelerate long-lasting and equitable economic development in Connecticut,” Lamont said in a release. “This new grant program we launched will have wide-ranging impacts as we emerge stronger than ever from the pandemic, creating new jobs, improving the vibrancy and quality of life in our neighborhoods, and making all corners of the state even more attractive for investment and opportunity.”

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Ohio Commits More Federal COVID-19 Money to Law Enforcement

Ohio plans to use more federal COVID-19 money to help local law enforcement agencies reduce violent crime, Gov. Mike DeWine announced.

The state plans to add $50 million from American Recovery Plan Act funds to the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program, which began this year with $8 million in the state budget.

“One of the most important things that we can do to support our law enforcement officers is to give them the tools they need to keep themselves and the public safe,” DeWine said. “By significantly increasing the amount of funding available, we can help more law enforcement agencies better combat crime and protect their communities.”

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Minnesota House DFL Pitches $1.15B Increase in Education Spending Using State Surplus

Catrin Wigfall

Minnesota House DFL committee chairs on Monday pitched a $1.15 billion increase in education funding for fiscal year 2023 and $2.12 billion in fiscal years 2024 and 2025.

The Minnesota House Education Finance, Policy and Early Childhood committees proposed using the state’s historic budget surplus for the increases.

Center of the American Experiment Policy Fellow and Educated Teachers MN Director Catrin Wigfall told The Center Square in an emailed statement Monday that the House plan won’t help.

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New Michigan Law Saves School Districts $8 Million in Interest

School bus

The School Loan Revolving Fund (SLRF) interest rate dropped to 1.19% last week, saving some local school districts about $8 million in interest.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law Senate Bill 618 that adjusted the SLRF interest rate.

“Every student, in every district, has a birthright to a phenomenal public education so they can pursue their potential,” Whitmer said in a statement. “With these cost savings, we will have even more resources to invest where they matter most – in our students, teachers, and classrooms. I am proud of the work the Michigan Legislature and I have done to close the funding gap between districts and increase per-pupil funding to its highest amount ever.”

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Study Recommends ‘Dynamic Upgrades’ to Address Disparities in Michigan’s Per-Pupil School Funding

Ben DeGrow

Asserting “student aid should take precedence over school aid,” a new study seeks to address among other topics the funding disparities between traditional public schools and charter school academies.

Released earlier this week, “From School Aid to Student Aid” was written by Ben DeGrow, Education Policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

DeGrow notes the COVID-19 pandemic played a significant role in parents selecting alternatives to publicly funded schools for their children. He also says schools are recognizing the effects of declining birth rates.

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer to Sign $4.8 Billion Spending Package

Gretchen Whitmer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will sign a $4.8 billion spending plan into law to focus on water, broadband internet, and housing.

“The Building Michigan Together Plan makes bold, bipartisan investments in the kitchen-table issues that matter most to Michigan families, including clean water, smooth roads, fast internet, and beautiful parks,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I am so proud that the Michigan Legislature and I were able to come together to get this done. This bill will make a real difference in our communities, support tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, and set up Michigan’s economy for decades of success. It is a testament to what is possible when we put Michiganders first.”

However, she didn’t say when she would sign it. Her office hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment. 

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Kemp Signs Bill to Give Georgia Taxpayers a More than $1 Billion Refund

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a measure Wednesday to give a one-time tax refund to eligible Georgia taxpayers.

Taxpayers who are single or married and filing separately will receive a $250 refund under House Bill 1302. Heads of households will receive a $375 refund, while married taxpayers who file jointly will receive a $500 refund.

The Georgia Department of Revenue will credit taxpayers with the refund once they file their 2021 taxes, which are due April 18. Taxpayers who already have filed their 2021 taxes will receive a refund based on what they indicated on their tax returns.

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Republicans Outraise Democrats by 130 Percent in Ohio House Races

Campaign finance requirements govern how much money candidates may receive from individuals and organizations, how often they must report those contributions, and how much individuals, organizations, and political entities may contribute to campaigns.

While campaign finance is not the only factor in electoral outcomes, successful fundraising can provide a candidate with advantages during a campaign. Fundraising can also indicate party momentum.

This article lists top fundraisers in the Ohio House of Representatives, overall and by party. It is based on campaign finance reports that officeholders in and candidates for the House submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State. It includes activity between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021.

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Commentary: Stimulus Checks Are the Latest Immigration Scam

A great plague of our contemporary political landscape is that one bad policy begets even more bad policies. Such is the case with many of America’s existing immigration laws.

Federal law, for example, calls for specific enforcement protocols. But our elected representatives have decided that some of those protocols simply should be ignored. This mindset led to ideas like catching and then releasing illegal aliens into our communities, preventing local law enforcement from working with federal law enforcement, and “sanctuary” cities where those who have broken our laws can hide from accountability.

From this witches’ brew of bad ideas has come the latest product rollout, one suited for our time: stimulus checks for illegal aliens. Using the economic damage caused by COVID-19 as a pretext, anti-borders activists and their allied politicians have found a way to sustain those here illegally while creating further incentives for even more foreign nationals to move here.

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Republicans Outraise Democrats by 88 Percent in Arizona House Races

Reginald Bolding and Mark Finchem

Campaign finance requirements govern how much money candidates may receive from individuals and organizations, how often they must report those contributions, and how much individuals, organizations, and political entities may contribute to campaigns.

While campaign finance is not the only factor in electoral outcomes, successful fundraising can provide a candidate with advantages during a campaign. Fundraising can also indicate party momentum.

This article lists top fundraisers in the Arizona House of Representatives, overall and by party. It is based on campaign finance reports that officeholders in and candidates for the House submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State. It includes activity between Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021.

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Youngkin to Go After Unemployment Fraud, Gets Thanks from Virginia Businesses

Woman organizing table contents in restaurant

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced a deal aimed at cracking down on fraudulent unemployment claims, a move that garnered support from members of the business community.

The governor and Attorney General Jason Miyares signed an agreement with the Virginia Employment Commission, which allows the attorney general to represent the VEC in the prosecution of criminal unemployment compensation fraud cases.

“The VEC has asked that I take on this responsibility, and I enthusiastically agreed to the VEC’s request,” Miyares said in a statement. “Protecting the Commonwealth from crime is one of my top priorities as Attorney General. Fraudulent claims must be prosecuted and fraud on the unemployment fund diverts resources from those who need them most.”

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Farmers Hit Hard by Price Increases as Food Price Spike Looms

Man in white shirt and jeans planting seeds in the ground of a garden

Goods and services around the country are becoming increasingly more expensive, but farmers may be among the hardest hit as inflation, supply chain issues, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are expected to send food prices soaring even higher.

That impact is being felt by farmers around the country.

“The cost of fertilizer is up as much as 500% in some areas,” said Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron. “It would be unbelievable if I hadn’t seen it for myself as I priced fertilizer for our farm in southern Indiana. Fertilizer is a global commodity and can be influenced by multiple market factors, including the situation in Ukraine, and all of these are helping to drive up costs.”

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Commitment to Behavioral Health in Connecticut Governor’s Spending Plan

Ned Lamont

A number of programs within Connecticut’s health-related agencies could be the benefactors of added cash infusions in the second year of Gov. Ned Lamont’s 2022-23 biennium budget.

Members of the Connecticut General Assembly sitting on the Joint Appropriations Committee discussed with agency heads a range of issues — from sports gambling to staffing shortages to lead abatement programs — at a Feb. 24 meeting.

Lamont, a 68-year-old Democrat, earlier this year announced a proposed amendment to the second half of the biennium budget. He wants to add 2.4% into the spending plan for fiscal year 2023, which would bring its total to $24.2 million.

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Senate Committee Examines Economic Benefits of Horse Race Betting in Georgia

Legislation to legalize horse race betting again has been introduced in the Georgia Legislature.

Similar bills have been pushed in Georgia over the past three years after the federal government lifted a federal ban on sports betting outside of Nevada in 2018.

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Wholesale Prices Jump in January as Inflation Continues to Soar

Wholesale prices jumped a full percentage point in January and 9.7 percent over last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday, as inflation continues its rapid rise.

“On an unadjusted basis, final demand prices moved up 9.7 percent for the 12 months ended January 2022,” BLS said.

That increase comes after a 0.9% increase in November and a 0.4% increase in December.

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State Labor and Industry Department Addresses Unemployment Fraud for Pennsylvania House Committee

Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and the Office of Administration discussed ongoing fraud and other issues in the commonwealth’s unemployment system Thursday during a House hearing.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor & Industry Jennifer Berrier told the House Labor and Industry Committee that “overall the (unemployment compensation) system is in a good place,” but acknowledged a raft of ongoing issues, from hundreds of millions of dollars stolen through fraud to large backlogs of unresolved claims and fraud cases.

Berrier said the unemployment compensation system has processed more than 611,000 claims since the modernized system went live in June, paying out about $3.4 billion in benefits. During the height of the pandemic, the department faced a backlog of 300,000 nonmonetary determinations, or those involving eligibility, that since has been whittled down to 95,000, she said.

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Governor Lee Proposes $626 Million in Transportation Spending in Tennessee Budget

construction worker holding a stop sign

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s proposed fiscal year 2023 budget includes $626.5 million in road projects for the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The proposal includes 22 new projects that are categorized under the State Highway Partnership Program ($226 million), Rural Interchange Improvement Program ($176 million), IMPROVE Act Acceleration ($100 million) and economic development projects ($77 million).

The economic development projects, in what are characterized as some of the state’s fastest-growing counties, include a Cleveland Street extension and Interstate-24 underpass in Davidson County ($40 million), a Sullivan County alignment project ($22 million) and widening State Road 334 in Blount County ($15 million).

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Michigan Conservative Group Files for Declaratory Ruling on Gov. Whitmer Recall Fundraising

Gretchen Whitmer

The Michigan Freedom Fund is seeking answers from Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson related to her decision to allow Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to disburse questionable campaign donations to other Democratic candidates.

The conservative MFF filed a formal request Friday for a declaratory judgment from Benson – who, like Whitmer, is a Democrat – over $3.4 million collected from 119 large donors. Michigan Campaign Finance law limits individual donations to $7,150, but allows an exemption to accept unlimited contributions if a governor is facing a recall attempt.

At the time Whitmer accepted the contributions, there was no active recall effort.

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Analysis Shows Education Vouchers Saved Georgia Taxpayers Money

Georgia’s school choice programs saved taxpayers at least $605 million in fiscal year 2018, an updated analysis by EdChoice found.

EdChoice examined the fiscal effects of 40 private educational choice programs in 19 states and the District of Columbia. The nonprofit found the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program and the Georgia Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit saved taxpayers between $605 million and $1.1 billion in fiscal 2018.

Each taxpayer saved money on the sum they would have paid in taxes for each student enrolled in the program to attend public schools. The programs saved each taxpayer between $4,355 to $8,013 per student, according to the report.

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December Revenue Exceeded Expectations, Says Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration

The Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration announced Friday in a press release that revenues for December 2021 were higher than expected and exceeded the monthly revenues from the previous year. On an accrual basis, December is the fifth month in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

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Missouri Economic Leaders Give Glimpse of How $2.6 Billion in Federal Pandemic Funds Will be Spent

Maggie Kost

Missouri’s Department of Economic Development (DED) recently previewed how Gov. Mike Parson plans to allocate the state’s $2.6 billion portion of federal pandemic funds.

In late December, Maggie Kost, acting director of the DED, outlined major priorities for Missouri’s portion of the more than $195 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. A total of $350 billion will be delivered to the 50 states and the District of Columbia and local and Tribal governments throughout the nation to support the response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The total amount of ARPA funds, passed in March 2021, is $1.9 trillion.

“We want to give you an idea of what to expect as we get into the legislative and budget session here in January,” Kost said. “As you’re planning and setting priorities locally for communities, we want to make sure you have an idea of what’s to come so you can think about how to leverage state funds as you’re building out your local priorities.”

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Iowa Awards Two-Thirds of Strengthening Communities Grants to YMCA or YWCA Projects

Kids at a table, wearing masks, with teacher who is wearing a mask

Projects in the rural communities of Clinton, Hampton, Keokuk, Lake City, Maquoketa, Red Oak and Stanton will all together receive $250,000 in Strengthening Communities grants, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced Thursday.

The Iowa legislature appropriated funding for the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund for the Strengthening Communities grants. The grants support communities of fewer than 28,000 residents (based on the 2010 Census) that are renovating facilities or undertaking construction projects that promote “youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.” Organizations must present a minimum of 50% of the grant amount they request. The funding must be secured, dedicated to eligible expenses, raised through public and private funding (not including state funding), and be spent between 2022 and 2024.

The funding will support the following projects:

$65,000 for the YWCA in Clinton’s reconfiguration of childcare spaces and youth classrooms to expand capacity and improve efficiency to help increase child care accessibility and provide a safe environment.

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Iowa Leaders React to Biden Administration’s $1 Billion for Expanding Independent Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity

Inside of a butcher shop with meat hanging up

The Biden Administration announced Monday it will spend $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds to increase independent meat and poultry processing capacity.

The administration will invest $375 million on independent processing plant projects that fill a need for diversified processing capacity, spend up to $275 million in working with lenders to increase availability of loans, particularly to underserved communities, for independent processors, and spend $100 million to back private lenders investing in independently owned food processing and distribution infrastructure to move product through supply chain.

It will spend and additional $100 million to support training, safe workplaces and jobs in meat and poultry processing facilities, $100 million in reducing overtime and holiday inspection costs for small and very small processing plants, and $50 million to provide independent business owners and producers with technical assistance and research and development.

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Connecticut Governor Lamont Directs Increase in Earned Income Tax Credit to Benefit Lower-Income Taxpayers

Ned Lamont

Nearly 200,000 households in Connecticut will benefit from an increase in the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, Gov. Ned Lamont said.

The governor said in a news release that the Department of Revenue Services will increase the 2020 Earned Income Tax Credit from 23% to 41.5% as directed by the state budget.

Lamont said the increase will “provide needed economic support to low-to-moderate income working individuals and families” who faced negative economic impacts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Sen. Cruz: Skyrocketing Inflation in U.S. Comparable to 1970s under Carter

Ted Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says that skyrocketing inflation and long lines at gas stations are a result of President Joe Biden’s policies and are returning the U.S. to the days of high inflation, high cost of living and gas lines under President Jimmy Carter.

Eleven months into Biden’s term, inflation reached a 31-year high and gas prices surpassed a seven-year high.

“I’ve got to tell you the trillions that are being spent, the trillions in debt that’s being racked up, it is historic and not in a good way,” Cruz told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

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Developers Pause, Pull Out After St. Paul Passes Rent Control

St. Paul School District

Earlier this month, St. Paul voters chose 53%-47% to impose a 3% cap on rent increases per year.  Despite the rule not activating until May 22, developers already are pausing and pulling out of projects.

The cap is strict: it doesn’t account for inflation, small or large landlords, new or old buildings, “regardless of change of occupancy.” The goal is to obtain stable, affordable housing prices, but there are also wide-reaching unintended consequences.

Pre-election, Mayor Melvin Carter said he supported the initiative.

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Two Minnesota Organizations Receive ‘up to $1M’ in Community Navigator Pilot Program Grants

U.S. Small Business Administration members

The Chinese American Chamber of Commerce, MN and the Minnesota State University Mankato’s Strategic Partnerships Center have each received up to $1 million in Community Navigator Pilot Program grant funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The program is an American Rescue Plan initiative intended to increase small businesses’ access to critical support. It distributed $100 million, in total, to 51 organizations across the nation that will partner as hubs for local groups to connect entrepreneurs with government resources, the administration said. The funding was announced late last month.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized building our small business ecosystems back better so that all of our entrepreneurs have a fair shot at achieving the American dream of business ownership,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said in the news release. “We need to meet businesses where they are with resources to start, grow and be resilient, and the Community Navigator Pilot Program will power a trusted network of community partners to connect America’s entrepreneurs with the SBA. The program’s Community Navigators will develop strong relationships with deeply trusted community-based organizations that will tap into one-on-one, targeted support from programs designed to help them create jobs and drive innovation.”

The program has a 3-tier approach that provides funding over two years according to geographical level of reach. The Chinese American Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota State University Mankato’s Strategic Partnerships Center received Tier 3 funding (up to $1 million) to focus on city, countywide and/or rural engagement, while Tier 1 (up to $5 million) recipients are national and Tier 2 (up to $2.5 million) are regional or statewide.

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Gov. Whitmer Asks Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association to Refund $5 Billion to Ratepayers

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is calling for the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association to refund $5 billion in surplus funds to Michigan automotive insurance customers.

“My office recently reviewed the Annual Report of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) to the Legislature issued in September 2021,” the governor wrote in a Nov. 1 letter addressed to R. Kevin Clinton, MCCA executive director. “The report stated that the MCCA had a surplus of $2.4 billion at the end of 2020. In your annual statement issued on June 30, 2021, the surplus is now $5 billion. I am calling on you today to refund money to Michiganders.”

The governor attributes the surplus to the bipartisan Senate Bill 1 insurance reform bill she signed in May 2019. Provisions of the bill include:

Guaranteeing lower rates for drivers for eight years;    
Giving people the choice to pick their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) options with coinciding PIP rate reductions, offering unlimited coverage (at least 10% PIP reduction), $500,000 coverage (at least 20% PIP reduction), $250K coverage (at least 35% PIP reduction), $50,000 coverage for Medicaid eligible recipients (at least 45% PIP reduction), or a complete opt out for seniors or anyone with sufficient private insurance (100% PIP reduction).  
Increasing consumer protections by banning companies from using the following non-driving factors to set rates: ZIP code, credit score, gender, marital status, occupation, educational attainment, and homeownership.  
Setting fee schedules for hospitals and providers to prevent overcharging for auto-related injuries.   

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TennCare Proposes $600M Budget Increase

Tennessee’s TennCare program would like to spend $600 million more next fiscal year than this year, according to a budget request presented Monday to Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley.

The proposed spending increase in the state’s Medicaid program includes a $250 million increase in recurring federal funds and $182 million in nonrecurring federal expense increases.

The spending increase would cost the state $137 million in additional recurring expenses.

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Ohio Businesses in Line for Easier City Income Tax Filing Process

Bill Roemer

Filing municipal income taxes for businesses might get a little easier if a bill passed unanimously by the Ohio General Assembly gets Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature.

State Rep. Bill Roemer, R-Richfield, said House Bill 228 will reduce unnecessary state and municipality paperwork for Ohio businesses and simplify the tax filing process.

“The way we currently file municipal net profits taxes in Ohio places an unneeded burden on business owners,” Roemer said. “The last thing businesses need is another hoop to jump through. This bill streamlines the filing process so business owners can get back to creating jobs and contributing to their communities. I am very pleased that both the House and Senate have unanimously agreed to send this bill to Governor DeWine.”

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Gov. Northam: Virginia Should Reach Universal Broadband by 2024

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

Virginia is on pace to have universal broadband access throughout the commonwealth by 2024 following a record number of local and private sector applications to match state investments, Gov. Ralph Northam announced.

After the most recent application window closed, the state received 57 applications from 84 localities for about $943 million worth of state funding, which leverages about $1.15 billion worth of private and local matching funds. In total, this amounts to an investment larger than $2 billion, which the governor’s office estimates will connect more than 250,000 homes to broadband internet.

“Broadband is as critical today as electricity was in the last century,” Northam said in a statement. “Making sure more Virginians can get access to it has been a priority since I took office, and the pandemic pushed us all to move even faster. Virginia is now on track to achieve universal broadband by 2024, which means more connections, more investments, easier online learning, and expanded telehealth options, especially in rural Virginia.”

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Report: Tennessee One of 11 States with Financial Surplus

Sheila Weinberg

Tennessee continued its trend of growing a financial surplus as the state ranked sixth nationally for its fiscal health, according to Truth in Accounting’s annual Financial State of the States report.

Using numbers that included data from the fiscal year that ended in June 2020, Tennessee had $8.7 billion more than it owed in obligations, amounting to a $4,400 surplus per taxpayer and earning a grade of B in the report, which was released Tuesday.

The state had a $3,400 surplus per taxpayer the year before.

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University of Michigan-Flint Grant to Support 300 Jobs, $10.4M Investment in Flint

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a $3.8 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Recovery Assistance grant to the University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, to construct the university’s new College of Innovation and Technology.

The grant, to be matched with $4.9 million in local funds, is expected to create 126 jobs, retain 175 jobs, and generate $10.4 million in private investment.

“We are grateful to Secretary Raimondo and the Biden Administration for investing in University of Michigan-Flint’s College of Innovation and Technology,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This grant will help us usher in a new era of prosperity by supporting over 300 good-paying jobs and generating $10.4 million in private investment.” 

Mayor Sheldon Neeley welcomed the investment.

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Phoenix to Use Federal Funding for Universal Basic Income Pilot

Phoenix City Council Building

One thousand lucky Phoenix families will get $1,000 in taxpayer funding a month in 2022. 

The Phoenix City Council has approved $12 million for a “Financial Assistance for Phoenix Families Program,” a lottery-based form of universal basic income that will begin in January 2022 if not sooner.

The program, which has yet to be finalized, will send approximately 1,000 families a monthly stipend of $1,000 for all of 2022. According to a city document, the funds would be limited toward “basic household necessities” such as housing, childcare, food and other staples. 

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Dow Plummets More Than 500 Points at Monday Open, Following Three Straight Weeks of Losses

U.S. stocks shed more than 500 points as the markets opened Monday morning as emerging risks continue to become the September story for Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 570 points – its biggest single day drop since mid-July. The S&P 500 lost 1.4%, while the tech-oriented Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.6%.

The sell-off comes as a the result of a number of investor concerns. On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve will begin a two-day meeting, which investors are worried will result in a decision that will pull stimulus funds as inflation continues to surge.

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Michigan Leaders Announce Budget Deal with Few Details

Gov. Grethcen Whitmer announces that Michigan received a $10 million grant to support the state’s registered apprenticeship expansion efforts and increase employment opportunities for Michiganders.

The GOP-led Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer struck a budget deal to avoid a government shutdown before the next fiscal year.

Budget officials welcomed the deal.

“The last year and a half has been hard on all of our families and communities. Addressing their needs – from jobs to education to government accountability – is at the center of today’s budget deal,” Senate Appropriations Chair Jim Stamas, R-Midland, said in a statement. “By working together our divided Michigan government has shown what can be accomplished when Michigan families are put first. Michigan families are counting on us to invest in them. This budget does that by laying the groundwork for a healthy economy for Michigan’s future. I thank House Appropriations Chair Thomas Albert, Budget Director David Massaron, and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their collaboration.”

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DeWine: Ohio’s Unemployment Loan Repayment Helpful for Businesses

Mike DeWine

Ohio businesses should profit as the state completes paying off nearly a $1.5 billion loan it needed to cover unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

DeWine announced Ohio began the process of repaying the U.S. Treasury Department using federal money from the American Rescue Plan. The action is expected to be completed Thursday. If the loan is not paid by Monday, the federal government would have charged the state 2.777% interest, which would mean higher unemployment taxes for employers.

“I am not willing to let our employers bear the unemployment debt burden caused by the pandemic,” DeWine said Wednesday. “By repaying this loan in full, we ensure that Ohio businesses won’t see increases in their federal unemployment payroll taxes.”

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Many Pandemic Unemployed in Arizona Can Re-File for a Tax Rebate

Arizona taxpayers who received unemployment benefits in 2020 and filed their state tax return before the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) was enacted on March 11 can receive a new income tax refund.

That’s according to a Thursday announcement from the Arizona Department of Revenue. 

Congress passed the ARP to give communities money to address public health and economic recovery issues which resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Rising Inflation Could Mean Largest Social Security Increase Since 1983

Person counting cash

Rising inflation and the price increases that come with it may lead to the highest raise for senior citizens in decades.

The Senior Citizens League predicted Thursday that the annual cost-of-living adjustment for 2022 Social Security payments could be the highest since 1983. The prediction comes as federal data this week showed two major signs of inflation, continuing a trend that has worsened this year.

“The estimate is significant because the COLA is based on the average of the July, August and September CPI data,” said Mary Johnson, a Social Security policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League. “With one third of the data needed to calculate the COLA already in, it increasingly appears that the COLA for 2022 will be the highest paid since 1983 when it was 7.4%.”

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Farmers Cry Foul over Biden’s Death Tax Proposal

Woman with ball cap on, out in the fields of a farm

President Joe Biden has proposed amending the inheritance tax, also known as the “death tax,” but farmers around the country are raising concerns about the plan.

In the American Families Plan introduced earlier this year, Biden proposed repealing the “step-up in basis” in tax law. The stepped-up basis is a tax provision that allows an heir to report the value of an asset at the time of inheriting it, essentially not paying gains taxes on how much the assets increased in value during the lifetime of the deceased. This allows heirs to avoid gains taxes altogether if they sell the inheritance immediately.

Under Biden’s change, heirs would be forced to pay taxes on the appreciation of the assets, potentially over the entire lifetime of the recently deceased relative. 

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Critics Pan Biden Order Calling for Half of U.S. Vehicle Sales to Be Electric by 2030

Electric car being charged

A new executive order from the Biden administration has accelerated the timeline for electric vehicles and raised questions about the economic impacts of the transition away from gas-powered vehicles.

President Joe Biden signed the executive order Thursday aimed at making 50% of vehicles zero emission in the U.S. by 2030, an aggressive push toward electric vehicles. About 2% of new cars sold each year in the U.S. are currently electric, according to the Pew Research Center.

“The Executive Order also kicks off development of long-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards to save consumers money, cut pollution, boost public health, advance environmental justice, and tackle the climate crisis,” the White House said.

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Western Governors to Biden on Wildfires: Feds Need to Play to Win

Joe Biden

Governors in wildfire country had a message for President Joe Biden and Congress on Friday: it’s time for the federal government to step in and manage its forests because their state resources are running on empty.

In 2021, 83 large fires have burned more than 1.7 million acres in 13 states, the National Interagency Fire Center reports. Some 547,000 acres have been lost to fires in Oregon, where the state’s Bootleg Fire has swelled to 413,000 acres and has become the nation’s largest fire. While some 22,000 wildland firefighters and support personnel beat back the flames nationwide, states governments are calling on Biden to help them rewrite the nation’s firefighting playbook.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said as much to Biden on Friday at a virtual news briefing. More specifically, Newsom took aim at the U.S. Forest Service response to the Tamarack Fire south of Lake Tahoe that grew to 625 acres before creeping into Nevada over little more than a three-week span this month. 

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Study: Democrats’ Capital Gains Tax Hike Could Cost More Than 745,000 Jobs

Chris Van Hollen

A new Democratic proposal to increase the capital gains tax could cost 745,000 jobs, a study published by the Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) projects.

The Sensible Taxation and Equity Promotion (STEP) Act, which would tax unrealized capital gains when heirs inherit assets, among other things, would have a “significantly negative impact” on the economy, including average job losses of 745,000 over 10 years, the report found.

The analysis, conducted for the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, found that sustained annual job losses from eliminating a tax benefit on appreciated assets known as the step-up in basis could eliminate between 537,000 to 949,000 jobs, with models predicting a base of 745,000 lost jobs through 2030.

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Georgia to Start Accepting Applications for American Rescue Plan Funds Sunday

COVID Testing station

Georgia is still deciding how to divide more than $8.1 billion from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March.

Applications for more than $4.8 billion in funding opens up Sunday. State government entities, local governments, businesses and nonprofits have 30 days to apply for the aid.

The aid will be issued in two installments and cover expenses from March to the end of 2026, but the state has until December 31, 2024, to allocate all of the funds.

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800 Virginia Businesses Back Tourism, Hospitality Relief in Budget

More than 800 businesses and business associations are jointly urging the Virginia General Assembly to approve a budget item for $291 million in relief to the travel and hospitality industries, which was proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam.

Northam’s proposal would appropriate funds from the federally passed American Rescue Plan to help these industries bounce back from losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic restrictions. The General Assembly is scheduled to meet on Aug. 2 to consider the budget proposal.

The businesses and business associations signed a joint letter showing their support. It includes the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Restaurant Lodging and Travel Association.

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Michigan’s $348.7 Million Pandemic Relief Bill, with Funds for Child Care, Hospitals, Signed into Law

Jim Stamas

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed Senate Bill 27 to appropriate $384.7 million in supplemental pandemic relief funding.

Signed by the governor on Monday afternoon, the bill also provides $10 million of financial support for Southeast Michigan families and businesses that endured massive flooding in June.

SB 27 was introduced by Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, in January. The bill combines $367.7 million of federal COVID relief funding authorized through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and $17 million from the state’s general fund.

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Georgia to Issue Licenses to Companies for Medical Marijuana Production

Zane Bader

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission will pick six companies to start producing the plant for medical uses in the state.

Nearly 70 companies applied for licenses to grow marijuana and convert it to oil to treat various illnesses. Once the commission approves them, the companies could be looking at paying up to $200,000 in licensing fees to the state. They will have one year to get product to thousands of Georgians who have been waiting for more than five years.

Patients with a Low THC Oil Registry card legally can purchase up to 20 fluid ounces of the THC oil from licensed dispensaries or pharmacies under legislation signed into law by former Gov. Nathan Deal in 2015. However, without guidelines and a medical marijuana marketplace, the 14,000 registered patients in Georgia have no way of legally obtaining the oil.

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Treasury Secretary Warns of ‘Rapid’ Inflation This Year

Janet Yellen

As more federal data show a major spike in inflation, another top federal official said the U.S. is in for more aggressive inflation for the rest of 2021.

Federal officials have been pressed to speak on rising inflation after \data released earlier this week showed that the all items index increased 5.4% over the last 12 months, the biggest spike since the 2008 financial crisis.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen commented on the rise in inflation, saying it would grow worse this year.

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