Political Animal

Blog

July 01, 2014 9:47 AM Happy State Fiscal New Year

By Ed Kilgore

Thanks to a decade or so working in state government, when the calendar rolls around to July 1, I think: “Happy Fiscal New Year!” And indeed, 46 of the 50 states operate on a July-to-June fiscal year, which also means many new laws take effect on July 1.

Stateline’s Susan Mulligan has a brisk roundup of state laws taking effect today. As a sign of slightly better economic times and Republican dominance, quite a few corporate tax breaks are kicking in, some deployed in the self-destructive “race to the bottom” competition for footloose corporate investments:

Critics say business tax cuts do little to stimulate the state economies or lure companies from other states. “There’s always this cycle, when revenues start coming back a little bit, you start to see legislatures using some of the revenue to cut taxes. And it’s unfortunate, because revenues are just finally back to where they were, pre-recession, after adjusting for inflation,” said Michael Mazerov of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a research group focused on low-income families.
Just two percent of the job losses during the recession occurred because businesses moved to another state or country, Mazerov said. “What accounts for how well states do … is stimulating the birth of new business,” he added.
Most states have no way of knowing if a tax break had a direct impact on business retention or hiring, said Joshua Smith, senior policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank focused on low-paid workers. But “it’s a zero-sum game, anyway,” since one state’s gain is another’s loss, he added. Smith said states would be better off using the revenues to fund infrastructure building and repair to create jobs.

Preach it, brother! Maybe somebody out there in a state capital is listening.

As has often been the case recently, July 1 is a big day for the gun lobby and other advocates of a return to the law of the jungle:

Both Georgia and Idaho will expand the legal use of guns on July 1, with Idaho barring colleges from preventing students from bringing guns and ammunition to campus. In Georgia, licensed gun owners will be able to bring firearms into bars, schools and churches. In Tennessee, there is no longer a ban on residents carrying switchblades and knives longer than four inches “with intent to go armed.”

But some good things are happening today, too:

States are also ushering in myriad new laws ranging from higher minimum wages to loosened marijuana laws.
Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick last week signed a bill raising the state’s minimum wage from $8 to $11 per hour by 2017, which would make it the highest of any state.
California’s minimum wage will increase by $1 to $9 an hour on July 1, while in the District of Columbia, the rate goes from $8.25 to $9.50 an hour, above the national minimum of $7.25 an hour. Rhode Island’s fiscal year 2015 budget bars localities from raising the minimum wage on their own (Providence hotel workers were pushing for a $15-an-hour standard), but the state is set to raise the minimum wage next year to $9 hourly.

This November’s elections will go a long way towards determining what laws take effect next July 1. Remember that if you are feeling a lack of enthusiasm.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

(You may use HTML tags for style)

comments powered by Disqus