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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Ducey Invests Millions of Federal Dollars to Start Visit Arizona Initiative

Three people on bikes in Arizona during sundown

Gov. Doug Ducey is investing $101.1 million from the federal American Rescue Plan funding to launch the Visit Arizona Initiative to increase tourism spending in Arizona and expedite its economic recovery. 

“Tourism is essential for Arizona’s booming economy and job growth,” Ducey said in a release. 

He said that when tourists stay at Arizona hotels, eat at restaurants, buy Arizona products, and partake in the state’s recreational activities, Arizona’s economy booms.

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Republicans Push Back Against ‘Politicization’ of IRS

President Joe Biden has pushed for beefing up IRS audits of corporations to raise revenue for his new spending proposals, but Republicans are raising the alarm about the potential consequences of the plan.

Biden unveiled his “Made in America Tax Plan” earlier this year as a strategy to help fund his trillions of dollars in proposed new federal spending that includes several tax hikes. Despite this, a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. House and Senate have agreed to a basic framework for Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan, but one element has been the theme of the negotiations among Republicans: no new taxes.

The GOP pushback against raising taxes, though, puts more pressure on the Biden administration to find ways to fund his agenda. Aside from Biden’s controversial tax hike proposals, the president also has proposed adding $80 billion in funding to the IRS so it can increase audits of corporations.

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Study: Ohio COVID-19 Vaccine Lottery Failed to Increase Rates

Giving away millions of federal tax dollars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships did nothing to improve Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccination rate, a recent study concluded.

Those results have Democratic leaders saying the state needs to do more to address vaccine hesitancy and deal with what they call root causes of Ohio’s stagnant vaccination rate.

The study, conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine using information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded reports that the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery program increased rates failed to factor in vaccinations expanded to ages 12-15.

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Ohio Ranks Low in Actual Independence

Ohio State flag

Celebrating Independence Day means a little more for some states than others, at least in terms of being independent and self-sufficient.

A report from personal finance website WalletHub showed which states were the most-self-sufficient, and Ohio ranked 36th in where Americans are the most self-reliant despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

To determine the ranking, WalletHub compared five sources of dependency: consumer finances, the government, the job market, international trade and personal vices. Those categories were broken down into 39 key indicators.

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Michigan Senate Passes $17 Billion Budget Plan

The Michigan Senate passed a plan totaling $17 billion for K-12 schools, hours before the budget deadline that levies no penalties for late action.

The real deadline for the state budget is Sept. 30, ahead of the Oct. 1 start of the state’s fiscal year.

House Bill 4410 passed on a 34-0 vote, which Senate Appropriations Chair Jim Stamas, R-Midland, called an “immediate priority.” The bill includes $10 million to repair natural disaster relief in cities flooded in June 2021.

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Michigan House Passes Bipartisan Budget, Including Historic Increases in Education Spending

Jason Wentworth

Although she thinks it’s only a “start,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer applauded the bipartisan budget passed Thursday night by the Michigan House of Representatives.

The House voted to pass the budget before the July 1 deadline, and includes the governor’s proposal to implement the largest increase in K-12 public school spending in the state’s history. Whitmer’s office claims the $16.7 billion in school expenditures will “close the gap between the lowest- and highest-funded school districts for the first time since the goal was introduced in 1994.”

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Minnesota House Approves Housing Bill

The Minnesota House approved the housing budget on a vote of 72-59.

The $125 million measure aims to fund a plethora of programs to create more affordable and stable housing.

Included in the budget is an off-ramp to the eviction moratorium.

Renters can only be evicted for “seriously endangering” another tenant or property or who is eligible for renter’s assistance but won’t apply.

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Report: Clarksville Among Country’s Fastest-Growing Metro Areas

Clarksville, TN watertower

In a housing market booming across the country, Clarksville stands out.

A recent National Association of Realtors report shows that while the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin metro area is one of the largest growing markets in the country, it is Clarksville that ranks as the fifth-fastest growing housing market in the U.S. in terms of new housing permits.

Clarksville’s growth coincides with a jobs boom in Nashville, which is located less than an hour away, but it also has seen its own boom with the growth of small businesses and employers such as Hankook Tire.

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Price Jump for Used Cars Results in Boost in Michigan Sales Tax Collected

Close up of a line of cars

The microchip shortage responsible for bottlenecking the production of new cars has been a boon for the used car market.

However, the lack of available new vehicles also has created a greater demand and thus a scarcity of quality used vehicles.

This has driven up the cost of used cars and trucks, which has also increased the sales tax collected on used vehicle transactions. The national average increase in used car sales prices is 16.8% or $3,926 per vehicle sold.

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Arizona Gains 66,000 New Taxpayers, Mostly from California

Phoenix, Arizona cityscape

Taxpayers are coming to Arizona from other states by the tens of thousands and bringing billions of dollars in annual earnings with them. 

The Internal Revenue Service released its annual migration statistics, a record of address changes by filers and their dependents between tax years. The data released in late May reflects changes from the 2018-2019 tax years, which symbolize moves that occurred between 2017 and 2018. Nationwide, 8 million people relocated to either another state or county. 

Arizona gained 218,736 new taxpayers in that time. Having lost 152,769, that’s a net gain of 65,967 exemptions from one tax year to the next. That’s nearly 1,000 more than the previous tax year.

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Study Finds Tennessee Collects $38M in Court Fines, Fees Each Year

Tennessee flag on pole

A new report from The Sycamore Institute shows Tennessee collects nearly $38 million annually in fines and fees through the criminal justice system, while county governments are collecting a shrinking amount in fines and fees.

While the Tennessee Department of Revenue reports its collections of fines and fees annually, other agencies, such as the Department of Correction, the Department of Safety & Homeland Security and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, do not report detailed information on their collections.

The Sycamore Institute study found 360 fees and fines authorized in Tennessee law, from being charged with a crime to civil asset forfeiture to incarceration costs.

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Missouri’s Treasurer Opposes Biden Administration’s Influence on Divesting in Fuel Companies

Gas station at night

Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick and 14 other Republican state treasurers are questioning President Joe Biden’s administration pressuring of U.S. banks and financial institutions to not lend to or invest in fossil fuel companies.

The group of chief financial officers sent a letter to presidential climate envoy John Kerry this week expressing concern about a reported strategy to eliminate the coal, oil and natural gas industries by cutting off loans or investments.

“While the pursuit of more renewable sources of energy is a noble cause, the fact is that fossil fuels remain critical to our country and the entire world,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “The Biden Administration’s failure to acknowledge this will result in increased costs for consumers and businesses. An energy independent America is vital for national security and strengthens our economy which impacts all Americans – especially our poorest citizens who feel rising prices at the gas pump and the checkout line most. Attempts to pressure financial institutions to cut off the fossil fuel industry amounts to nothing less than an abuse of power by the federal government and should not be tolerated by states.”

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Expanding Broadband Access in Ohio Becomes Law

Gov. Mike DeWine

Advancing broadband access across Ohio became official when Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law a bill that creates a grant program that government and business groups said is critical to economic development.

DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted signed the bill Monday at Middletown’s Amanda Elementary School, along with students, Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria and Ohio Development Services Agency Director Lydia Mihalik.

“Reliable high-speed internet is a necessity for all Ohio industries, including manufacturing,” said Ryan Augsburger, president of the Ohio Manufacturers Association. “The pandemic has illuminated the need for Ohio families and businesses to efficiently access broadband in today’s technology-based economy.”

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Virginia Directs Nearly $136 Million for State and Local Criminal Justice Programs

Arlington Police motorcycles

Virginia awarded $135.8 million worth of grants to support state and local criminal justice programs, primarily to support those who have been the victims of a crime, Gov. Ralph Northam announced late Thursday afternoon.

Nearly 63% of the funding, $85.5 million, will be used to provide services for victims. Many organizations receiving money provide direct services for traditionally underserved populations and for victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.

“Each of these grant recipients play an important role in keeping our communities safe and supporting victims and survivors of crime,” Northam said in a statement. “This funding will sustain the operations of a variety of critical programs and help expand the reach of services to underserved areas of the Commonwealth.”

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Republicans Release Plan to Address Growing Inflation Under Biden Administration

High gas prices

Congressional Republicans grabbed headlines this week after releasing an aggressive budget they say would cut taxes and spending, but key measures in the plan also would address one of the country’s most serious economic problems.

The House’s Republican Study Committee released a budget that lays out several measures to deal with inflation, a growing concern among economists after the latest federal data showed a spike in consumer prices. Notably, the index for used cars and trucks rose 10%, the largest one-month increase since BLS began recording the data in 1953. Food and energy costs rose 0.9% in the month of April, prescription drugs rose 0.5%, and gasoline rose 1.4% during the same month. The energy cost index rose 25% in the previous 12 months.

Republicans on the committee say their plan would address concerns over inflation by balancing the budget within five years, thereby eliminating the need to monetize debt, a process where the federal government prints money to make payments on what it owes. The national debt has soared to more than $28 trillion and is expected to continue climbing under President Joe Biden’s new spending plans.

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Michigan Projects Multibillion-Dollar Budget Surplus

Michigan State Capitol

Michigan budget officials Friday reached a consensus on revised economic and revenue figures for fiscal years 2021, 2022 and 2023.

The state general fund and school aid revenues will total $26.5 billion for the current budget year, exceeding January estimates by $2.2 billion. For the new budget cycle beginning Oct. 1, the agency projected revenues will total $26.6 billion, $1.3 billion more than January predictions.

A majority of that unexpected cash is a byproduct of billions of spending via stimulus checks and boosted unemployment benefits, which led to a spike in personal spending and increased state tax revenues by billions more than previously forecast.

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Most Americans with Children to Receive Monthly Federal Payments Starting in July

Man with two children

Millions of American families will receive hundreds of dollars in regular federal payments beginning next month, the Internal Revenue Service said Monday.

The IRS announced July 15 as the start date for monthly child tax credit payments that would affect the vast majority of Americans with children.

“Eligible families will receive a payment of up to $300 per month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each child age 6 and above,” the IRS said in a statement.

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Kemp Extends Suspension of Georgia Gas Tax by a Week

"Sorry out of service" bag covering gas pump

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp extended the state’s temporary suspension of the fuel tax through May 22 as Colonial Pipeline works to become fully operational after a cyberattack.

Kemp issued an executive order Monday that suspended the gas tax, increased weight limits for trucks transporting fuel and prohibited price gouging. The order was set to expire Saturday before Kemp extended it Friday.

“While Colonial Pipeline is now operational, the company has informed the public that it will be a few days until full service is available statewide,” Kemp said in a statement. “This executive order will ensure fuel supply chains have every resource needed to deliver gas quickly and safely, and that Georgians aren’t hit with state gas taxes at the pump during this shortage. I continue to ask Georgians to only purchase the fuel they need for essential travel through the upcoming weekend.”

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Michigan House GOP $80 Million Plan Pushes Stronger Police Support

Speaker Jason Wentworth

Michigan House GOP unveiled a plan to spend roughly $80 million to support local police departments.

The plan aims to counter the “defund the police movement,” House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Clare, said in a Thursday morning press conference.

House Republicans say the plan supports law enforcement, strengthens the criminal justice system and expands community policing statewide.

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Hawley Cites ‘Culture War’ in Proposal for Monthly Payments to Families with Children

Josh Hawley

Rising Republican star U.S. Rep. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is sponsoring a new measure that would give unprecedented tax cuts to parents with children, and now he is saying his bill is on the front line of the nation’s “culture war.”

The plan in question would give a fully refundable tax credit of $12,000 for married parents and $6,000 for single parents who have children under the age of 13.

“Starting a family and raising children should not be a privilege only reserved for the wealthy,” Hawley said. “Millions of working people want to start a family and would like to care for their children at home, but current policies do not respect these preferences. American families should be supported, no matter how they choose to care for their kids.”

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Florida No-Fault Repeal Advances with No Certainty it Will Lower Auto Insurance Rates

Erin Gall

For decades, Florida lawmakers have pondered bills seeking to repeal the state’s half-century-old no-fault auto insurance system.

They’ve perennially failed because there’s no certainty a repeal would lower Florida auto insurance rates.

There still isn’t, at least according to the insurance industry, but nevertheless, Florida’s 16 million drivers, who already pay the nation’s highest auto insurance premiums, may learn the answer to that long-debated question next year.

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DeWine Signs Partial Repeal of Ohio’s Controversial Nuclear Power Bailout

Nuclear power plant

A little more than eight months after the billion-dollar government bailout of the state’s nuclear energy industry led the arrest of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, Gov. Mike DeWine officially put it to rest.

DeWine signed House Bill 128 into law late Wednesday. It repeals the nuclear provisions of the infamous House Bill 6.

Gone is the bailout for the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants in northern Ohio. Also eliminated was the ability for FirstEnergy to have its revenue levels relatively the same even during years when energy consumption decreases. HB 128 directed refunds of money already collected under the guarantee.

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Surveys: 46 Million People Can’t Afford Health Care, Majority of Hospitals Not Providing Pricing Transparency

Assorted color syringes.

An estimated 46 million people — or 18% of the country — would be unable to pay for health care if they needed it today, a recent poll conducted by Gallup and West Health found.

In another survey by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the majority of hospitals in the U.S. have yet to comply with a transparency ruling implemented this year that would help patients shop around for the most affordable prices.

Gallup’s findings are based on a poll conducted between February 15 and 21 among 3,753 adults with a margin of error of 2%.

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Georgia Legislature Approves $27B Budget for New Fiscal Year

Blake Tillery

The Georgia General Assembly has approved a $27.2 billion spending plan for the 2022 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The Senate and House agreed to spend more money on health care, education, transportation, state positions, internet access and economic initiatives.

The House approved the measure, 148-21, late Wednesday night after it cleared the Senate unanimously, 52-0. Lawmakers now must send the proposal for state spending through June 30, 2022, to Gov. Brian Kemp for consideration.

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