The State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) firmly believes that real government reform, innovative policy changes, and the big ideas that will solve America's problems are going to be found in state capitols and not Washington, D.C. As has been the case for several years, there is grid-lock in Washington, and Federal government spending and regulation are out of control, while our country's problems continue to be unaddressed by Washington.
Contrast this with the states, who are getting things done -- some better than others. America is at its most prosperous and productive when there is limited government, less spending, less taxes, less dictation from Washington, and less encroachment into the states.
SGLF will promote innovative reforms advocated by our conservative elected leaders and defend them when the special interest proponents of the status quo attack these elected leaders. SGLF is dedicated to educating policymakers and the public about the benefits of smaller government, lower taxes, balanced budgets, and efficiency in governing.
SGLF is a 501 (c)(4) social welfare organization and is a strategic partner to the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) - home to the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, Republican Attorneys General Association, Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, and the Republican Secretaries of State Committee.
Obama: There Will Be “Bumps” and “Glitches” in Obamacare
Written by Alyene Senger for The Foundry on May 03, 2013Health Care
In light of negative comments made by Congressional Democrats, President Obama discussed the implementation of Obamacare at a press conference this week, explaining that “even if we do everything perfectly, there’ll still be, you know, glitches and bumps, and there’ll be stories that can be written that says, oh, look, this thing’s, you know, not working the way it’s supposed to, and this happened and that happened.” But Obamacare has been experiencing more than a few “bumps” and “glitches.” For starters, it has been over three years since Obamacare’s enactment and public opinion of the law still remains negative. A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 40 percent of respondents still had an unfavorable view of the law, 35 percent reported a favorable view, and 24 percent reported they had no opinion on the law.
Moreover, with just six months until open enrollment for the exchanges begins, the poll found that “about half the public says they do not have enough information about the health reform law to understand how it will impact their own family, a share that rises among the uninsured and low-income households”—the two groups the law is most likely to benefit. In addition, another story about the harmful effects of Obamacare’s employer mandate is in the news. The employer mandate forces all employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer government-approved health coverage or pay a penalty. To avoid the cost of coverage and the penalty, many employers are increasingly shifting their full-time workers to part time. As NPR reports, Rob Wilson, president of the temp agency Employco said it is impacting his business too, “Instead of saying, ‘I want one person for 40 hours a week,’ [employers are saying], ‘I’ll take two people for 20 hours or 25 hours a week.’”
Bullock signs main Montana budget bill after line-item vetoes
HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock signed the Legislature’s main budget bill Friday – but not after first using his line-item veto authority to strike a small portion of the spending. Bullock said in his line-item veto message that he needed to reduce spending. His office said the reductions cut about $30 million, roughly 0.4 percent of the two-year, $8 billion budget. House Bill 2 cleared the Legislature with the backing of minority Democrats and some Republicans. But Bullock said lawmakers did not stick to his goals of a structurally balanced budget that left more money in the bank.
“I asked the Legislature to pass a budget that didn’t spend more than we take in and that left $300 million cash in the bank for a rainy day. Unfortunately, they didn’t,” Bullock said in a statement. “Therefore, I’ve had to veto and line-item veto more bills than I would have liked to, in order to keep the state’s financial position strong.” The line-item veto in the main budget bill did not ax any particularly large programs. One move would strike the 6 percent pay raise that Republican lawmakers gave to game wardens who broke with other union workers and backed Bullock’s Republican opponent.
Broader Unemployment Rate Ticks Up
This month the number of unemployed dropped by more than 80,000, even as more people entered the labor force. Meanwhile, the number of employed workers jumped by 293,000. The total labor force increased by 210,000, leaving the labor force participation rate unchanged at 63.3%. The steady rate is a positive sign that people are encouraged enough to look for work, and raises hope that more long-term unemployed aren’t just dropping out. But there was an area of concern in the report as a broader rate, known as the “U-6″ for its data classification by the Labor Department, increased to 13.9% from 13.8% a month earlier. That includes everyone in the official rate plus “marginally attached workers” — those who are neither working nor looking for work, but say they want a job and have looked for work recently; and people who are employed part-time for economic reasons, meaning they want full-time work but took a part-time schedule instead because that’s all they could find.
Immigration resolution in House gets Republican support
Two House Democrats have been trying all session to get the first Republican member to sign on to their immigration-reform resolution. On Wednesday night, they hooked one. At a State Affairs Committee hearing late Wednesday, state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, signed on to House Concurrent Resolution 44 by Reps. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, and Ana Hernandez Luna, D-Houston. HCR 44 calls for comprehensive immigration reform and incorporates some immigration measures drafted by national and state Republican and conservative groups. The end goal of the largely symbolic resolution is to get U.S. Congress to pass immigration legislation that takes into account the bipartisan approach of Texas leaders, Anchia said.
“Jason has engaged in a good faith dialogue on this issue and has brought much-needed leadership on the Republican side,” Anchia said. “It is this type of bipartisan collaboration that gets things done in Austin and that is needed more in Washington, D.C.” The resolution takes a middle-of-the-road, even conservative, approach, the Democrats said. Anchia and Hernandez Luna borrowed language from the Texas Federation of Republican Women, which in January called for allowing young people in the country illegally to earn legal status or citizenship when they meet certain standards, such as English fluency.
Part-timers to lose pay amid health act's new math
Some workers are having their hours cut so employers won't have to cover them under Obamacare. But many will benefit from the healthcare law's premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion.
Written by Chad Terhune for Los Angeles Times on May 02, 2013Health Care
Many part-timers are facing a double whammy from President Obama's Affordable Care Act. The law requires large employers offering health insurance to include part-time employees working 30 hours a week or more. But rather than provide healthcare to more workers, a growing number of employers are cutting back employee hours instead. The result: Not only will these workers earn less money, but they'll also miss out on health insurance at work. Consider the city of Long Beach. It is limiting most of its 1,600 part-time employees to fewer than 27 hours a week, on average. City officials say that without cutting payroll hours, new health benefits would cost up to $2 million more next year, and that extra expense would trigger layoffs and cutbacks in city services. Part-timer Tara Sievers, 43, understands why, but she still thinks it's wrong. "I understand there are costs to healthcare reform, but it is surely not the intent of the law for employees to lose hours," said the outreach coordinator at the El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach. "It's ridiculous the city is skirting the law."
Senate expected to consider education budget on Tuesday
MONTGOMERY, Alabama --- The chairman of the Senate’s education budget committee said today he expects the Senate to debate the Education Trust Fund budget on Tuesday. The budget had been expected to come up this week. One of the key sticking points has been the size of pay raise for educators. The House of Representatives passed the budget with a 2 percent cost of living raise for current teachers and education employees. The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee reduced the raise to 1 percent, with a conditional appropriation for a 1 percent pay bonus if the money is available.
Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, chairman of the committee, had supported the 1 percent raise. “I feel like the 1 percent with the 1 percent bonus would be more conservative with all the unknowns we’re dealing with,” Pittman said. But Pittman said there was strong support in the Senate for the 2 percent raise and said that would give it the best chance to pass the Senate. Education employees last received a cost of living raise in fiscal year 2008. Gov. Robert Bentley had proposed a 2.5 percent raise for education employees. The budget bill, HB166 by Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery, would appropriate $5.76 billion from the Education Trust Fund for public schools, colleges and other entities for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
GOP legislators plan right-to-work bills
Kasich, Republican leaders mum on support
Written by Joe Vardon for The Columbus Dispatch on May 01, 2013Labor Reform
Rekindling the raw emotion of Senate Bill 5 from 2011, two House Republicans plan to introduce bills today that would “eliminate compulsory unionism in Ohio.” If enacted, the two bills would make Ohio a right-to-work state in both the public and private sectors by prohibiting mandatory participation in a union or payment of union-related fees as a condition of employment. In November 2011, voters overwhelmingly rejected Republicans’ effort to sharply limit collective bargaining for public employees by overturning Senate Bill 5 — a referendum that might still have political ramifications for Gov. John Kasich.
Kasich has since refused to support any right-to-work efforts in Ohio — a bid to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot is proceeding slowly — and Democrats were quick to pounce on news of the new bills. But Kasich wouldn’t commit one way or the other on the latest GOP effort. “There have been 300 bills introduced so far this year,” said Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesman. “ We don’t weigh in on all of them, and it would be premature to do so on these.“The governor has a big agenda that’s moving through the legislature, and he continues to work on it.” State Reps. Ron Maag of Lebanon and Kristina Roegner of Hudson will hold a news conference today announcing their intentions.
Uncertainty Still Clouds Health Care Law
Written by MICAH COHEN for The New York Times on May 01, 2013Health Care
Three years after President Obama signed the health care reform law, there are concerns that the process of implementing it will be rocky. Even some of the law’s supporters are worried. Perhaps more troubling for the White House, the Affordable Care Act is still not well liked or well understood. The Obama administration had hoped that over time, the legislation would gain enough support to help smooth over the rough patches of putting it into practice. Instead, public opinion has remained mostly static: a plurality of Americans still disapprove of the law, and a substantial portion of the public remains uncertain about what it says, according to recent polls.
There is even confusion about whether the health care law is still, in fact, law. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey [PDF] conducted in April found that 41 percent of American adults did not know that the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land. A separate tracking survey conducted by Kaiser, which has done far more surveys on health care than any other polling organization, found that roughly half of American adults said they did not have enough information about the law to understand how it will affect them. The tracking poll found that there had actually been an increase in the percentage of American adults with no opinion about the health care law.
Environmental rollbacks clear first NC Senate vote
RALEIGH — A bill requiring local governments and state agencies to roll back environmental regulations passed its first full vote in the North Carolina Senate on Wednesday. The Republican bill requires cities, counties and numerous state agencies to repeal or rewrite rules that go beyond federal law. It also allows businesses or utilities with decommissioned buildings to dispose of waste on site rather than transporting it to a landfill and potentially weakens standards to mitigate damage to wetlands. The vote was 36-12, with some Democrats crossing party lines to support the Republican majority. A provision removing buffers for development along the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins that are intended to protect water quality was stripped from the bill through an amendment from Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake.
North Dakota air gets top grades
The American Lung Association gave “A” grades to eight counties in North Dakota for lack of smog and to three counties for lack of dust. The association released the information in its annual State of the Air report for 2013. The eight counties, chosen for population or proximity to a national park and grasslands, are Billings, Burke, Burleigh, Cass, Dunn, McKenzie, Mercer and Oliver. The last two are home to five of the state’s seven power plants and the country’s only lignite synfuels plant. Cass County got a “B” for particulates, while Billings, Burleigh and Mercer counties received “A’s” for the same pollution. Bismarck was among the top 25 cities for year-round lack of particulate and both Bismarck and Fargo were in the top-ranked cleanest cities for ozone smog.
Illinois House Republicans push for fracking bill vote
Written by SOPHIA TAREEN and TAMMY WEBBER for The Associated Press on April 30, 2013Energy & Environment
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — House Republicans cranked up the pressure Tuesday for a vote on legislation regulating high-volume oil and gas drilling in Illinois, saying it has the backing of industry and environmentalists and would pass easily, and that the state is losing out on jobs and revenue by dragging its heels. Minority Leader Tom Cross and Rep. David Reis, a sponsor of the bill, accused House Speaker Michael Madigan of holding up the vote for political reasons while lawmakers try to overhaul the state's worst-in-the-nation pension problem and other contentious issues. The Republicans said the bill — aside from a last-minute amendment on hiring requirements — has the support to pass. "It's unfortunate sometimes that groups and industries get used as pawns for leverage," said Reis, who didn't detail the politicking allegations. "This is too important of an issue."
Madigan has said he supports a temporary ban on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," while further study is conducted on its safety, though some have suggested that was meant to pressure industry over fees and "severance" taxes — which since were worked out — or to use as leverage on other legislation. More than 50 House members have already pledged to support the bill, which was crafted during months of negotiations involving industry officials and environmentalists and which supporters say would establish the strictest regulations on fracking in the country. Gov. Pat Quinn supports the bill, which he calls a jobs measure.
Brewer signs bill creating new teacher evaluations
Written by The Associated Press for The AZ Capitol Times on April 30, 2013Education Reform
Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill that makes it easier to fire some low-performing teachers. The bill signed Monday allows experienced teachers to be placed on probationary status if they received the lowest rating on one yearly performance review. That status allows a school board to fire a teacher with little notice. Proponents say the measure will help remove bad teachers. House Bill 2500 easily passed in the Republican-led House, but Senate Republicans and Democrats initially rejected it in a tight 14-15 vote. The Republican-led Senate eventually passed the bill in a 19-11 vote. Critics say an overhaul of evaluations passed last year still isn’t fully implemented and lawmakers shouldn’t pass additional changes.
Daniel Kessler: The Coming ObamaCare Shock
Millions of Americans will pay more for health insurance, lose their coverage, or have their hours of work cut back.
Written by DANIEL P. KESSLER for The Wall Street Journal on April 29, 2013Health Care
In recent weeks, there have been increasing expressions of concern from surprising quarters about the implementation of ObamaCare. Montana Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat, called it a "train wreck." A Democratic colleague, West Virginia's Sen. Jay Rockefeller, described the massive Affordable Care Act as "beyond comprehension." Henry Chao, the government's chief technical officer in charge of putting in place the insurance exchanges mandated by the law, was quoted in the Congressional Quarterly as saying "I'm pretty nervous . . . Let's just make sure it's not a third-world experience." These individuals are worried for good reason. The unpopular health-care law's rollout is going to be rough. It will also administer several price (and other) shocks to tens of millions of Americans.
Start with people who have individual and small-group health insurance. These policies are most affected by ObamaCare's community-rating regulations, which require insurers to accept everyone but limit or ban them from varying premiums based on age or health. The law also mandates "essential" benefits that are far more generous than those currently offered. According to consultants from Oliver Wyman (who wrote on the issue in the January issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries), around six million of the 19 million people with individual health policies are going to have to pay more—and this even after accounting for the government subsidies offered under the law. For example, single adults age 21-29 earning 300% to 400% of the federal poverty level will be hit with an increase of 46% even after premium assistance from tax credits.
Hundreds to be hired to help Arkansans enroll in insurance exchange
Written by John Lyon for Arkansas News on April 28, 2013Health Care
LITTLE ROCK — Expanding health care coverage in the state under the federal Affordable Care Act will be a massive undertaking that will require hiring hundreds of people to help guide thousands of Arkansans through an entirely new system for obtaining health insurance. Mention has often been made of the “navigators” who will help enroll people in the state’s health insurance exchange, a marketplace where people and small businesses can shop for insurance plans that suit their needs. In fact, the navigators will be just one of four different categories of helpers involved in the process in Arkansas.
Charter schools win $91 million for facilities
Written by KATHLEEN McGRORY AND MICHAEL VAN SICKLER for The Miami Herald on April 28, 2013Education Reform
TALLAHASSEE -- Charter schools will receive $91 million for their construction and maintenance needs, state lawmakers agreed late Sunday. The figure represents a $36 million increase over last year’s allocation, but falls just short of the $100 million proposed by Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida House. The deal was struck during a series of budget negotiations that lasted late into the night on Saturday and Sunday. It is almost certain to pass the two chambers and win approval by the governor.
“We’re very pleased that the Legislature worked to get specific capital outlay dollars to charter schools,” said Larry Williams, who represents the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools. The money is a one-time allocation, most of which will come out of the Public Education Capital Outlay fund. PECO dollars are generated from the state’s gross receipts tax on cable-television, electricity and land-line telephone bills. Charter school advocates had hoped to secure a recurring source of funding for capital outlay projects this year. On Sunday, they acknowledged that the goal was unlikely to become reality before the end of this year’s legislative session on Friday.
But that doesn’t mean the fight is over for good. “We need to move forward with a permanent mechanism that automatically funds charter schools’ capital outlay needs,” said former state Rep. Ralph Arza, who represents the Florida Charter School Alliance. “The parents of those children deserve a recurring source.” Charter schools enroll more than 200,000 students statewide, and are run by nonprofit governing boards that function independently of local school districts. Some are managed by for-profit companies.
North Carolina legislators' reactions mixed to voter ID bill
Written by Paul Woolverton for The Fayetville Observer on April 27, 2013Election Law
Like so much other legislation this year, a contentious bill that would require voters to provide photo identification passed the state House last week along party lines. Republicans, who control both chambers of the General Assembly, argue that the voter ID bill will reduce fraud. Democrats counter that their real motivation is to restrict voter access to racial minorities and to the poor. Republican state Rep. David Lewis of Dunn, chairman of the state House Elections Committee, shepherded the bill through the House.
Lewis said photo ID at the polls is needed to prevent people from voting under other people's names. But he said he appreciates the concerns of critics, who say a voter ID law risks blocking legitimate voters from voting. Despite society's growing demand that Americans carry government identification papers in their daily lives, some people don't have a current ID, the critics say. As examples, they often cite elderly voters, who let their drivers' licenses expire because they've had to stop driving and are too infirm to sit in line at a driver's license office to get a new state ID. The critics also say poor people and racial minorities are less likely to maintain current citizenship documents.
Lawmakers expand school voucher program, pause Common Core
Written by Scott Elliott for The Indianapolis Star on April 27, 2013Education Reform
The Indiana General Assembly revised the state’s A to F school ratings and paused its participation in national Common Core school standards late Friday and was poised to expand private school vouchers. House Bill 1427, which addresses Common Core and A to F ratings, passed the Senate 34-15 and the House 53-42. It now heads to Gov. Mike Pence for his signature. A revised version of the voucher bill, House Bill 1003, was heading toward a final vote as lawmakers raced Friday night to try to finish this year’s legislative session.
Vouchers, which allow public school dollars for more than 9,000 low-income children to be used for private school tuition, would be expanded. New provisions would extend the benefit to siblings of those already using vouchers, students in special education or those living within the boundaries of a school rated a D or F by the Indiana Department of Education. Under current law, students have to first attend public school after kindergarten for at least two semesters. Kindergarten would now count toward those two semesters. Rep. Robert Behning, the bill’s author, said that the measure would make an estimated 180,000 more children eligible for vouchers but that the number of new vouchers would be limited. The number of empty seats statewide is estimated to be below 15,000.
Maine Senate delivers death blow to pair of ‘right-to-work’ bills
Written by Robert Long for The Bangor Daily News on April 26, 2013Labor Reform
AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Senate slammed the door on two bills that Republicans called “right-to-work” legislation with 21-13 votes Thursday. Both bills went to the full Legislature with divided “ought not to pass” recommendations from the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee, where they garnered support from minority Republicans and opposition from majority Democrats and independent Rep. James Campbell of Newfield.
Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, sponsored both bills. One, LD 786, sought to repeal the law allowing public employee unions to deduct the equivalent of union dues from the paychecks of public-sector workers who choose not to join the union. On Wednesday, House members rejected the bill 89-56. A second bill, LD 831, aimed to allow an employee to work at a unionized business without having to support the union financially as a condition of employment. The House rejected that bill Wednesday by a tally of 92-53. Debate and voting on both measures followed largely party lines, with Republicans supporting the measures and Democrats voicing opposition. Independent Sen. Richard Woodbury of Yarmouth and Republican Sens. Tom Saviello of Wilton and Brian Langley of Ellsworth voted with the 18 Democratic senators on hand for Thursday’s vote.
Poll shows support for Medicaid expansion in Michigan, but political differences evident
Written by Tim Martin for Michigan Live on April 26, 2013Health Care
LANSING, MI - A new poll says a majority of Michigan voters favor expanding Medicaid through the federal Affordable Care Act, but there are differences based on political preferences. The poll says 60 percent of voters indicated they supported Medicaid expansion after they heard a brief description of eligibility requirements and the number of working adults who would qualify for the coverage. Twenty-six percent were opposed and 14 percent were undecided. The poll was commissioned and done by EPIC-MRA of Lansing. The survey of 600 voters was conducted April 13-16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll was released Friday.
Opponents of Brewer's Medicaid plan speak out, present alternatives
Written by Howard Fischer for East Valley Tribune on April 26, 2013Health Care
Foes of the governor’s plan to expand the state’s Medicaid program laid out their objections and alternatives Thursday, including one that actually would dump thousands of people from the program who are now getting care. “We have a choice: More socialism and bigger government or more freedom and fiscal stability,” said Rep. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, one of the leaders of an ant-expansion rally on the Capitol lawn. Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, called the care provided under Medicaid “substandard” and said entitlement programs like this “disincentivize the poor from improving themselves.” And Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, said an expanded Medicaid program means more tax dollars for family planning services to be paid to Planned Parenthood which has “this mission of terminating life before it’s even born.”
Thursday’s rally came as Senate President Andy Biggs, who also opposes what Gov. Jan Brewer wants to do, drew a line in the stand. He vowed to do all he can to not even allow a vote on her proposal. Biggs’ position does give him vast powers to sideline legislation. “I’m not going to allow late introduction of a bill,” he told Capitol Media Services, pointing out the deadline for that was months ago. And Biggs said even if what the governor wants does end up at the Senate, whether from a House bill or an amendment to something else, “I never made a commitment I’d put it on the floor” for a vote. House Speaker Andy Tobin has not taken such an absolute stand. But Tobin said he would not allow a vote in his own chamber on Brewer’s plan as it now stands.
Oil tax referendum can continue forward
JUNEAU, Alaska — An effort to let voters decide whether to keep or repeal an oil tax cut can move forward, after Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell approved a referendum application Thursday. Supporters of the repeal effort now must gather at least 30,169 qualified signatures from across the state by July 13 to get the measure on next year's ballot, Treadwell said. The Division of Elections plans to have petition booklets ready for organizers within a week, division director Gail Fenumiai said in an email. The Legislature passed a measure earlier this month that would cut taxes for the oil industry as a way to increase production and investment. Supporters of the tax cut, including Gov. Sean Parnell, argued that the state could not stand by and do nothing while production continued to decline. Critics of the bill called it a giveaway to the industry and warned it will be devastating for Alaska's budget.
Pat Lavin, a coordinator for the group "Vote Yes - Repeal the Giveaway," said in an interview that it's unpopular with Alaskans to give up billions of dollars with no guarantees of what the state will see in return. He said his group is planning for a massive signature-gathering effort and is optimistic in its chances. The fiscal note attached to the oil tax bill said it could cost the state between $4.2 billion and $4.6 billion through 2019, based on a forecast that includes a continued net decline in production and oil prices between $109 and $118 a barrel. The figures do not account for possible increases in production.
R.I. House leaders outline broad legislative package to spur economic development
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- House Speaker Gordon D. Fox and other key state representatives unveiled a package of 18 bills Thursday meant to improve Rhode Island's ailing economy by coordinating and streamlining economic development efforts. The measures include creation of an Executive Office of Commerce, to be led by a commerce secretary appointed by the governor. The proposed new office, championed last fall by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, would replace the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation.
House leaders say they worked for months to craft legislation that could improve the state's economy. Many of the ideas grew out of an economic summit for the entire 75-member House in January. Fox said the bills will ensure that the state has a clear, well-developed plan to encourage business growth. The bills offer incentives to growing businesses and seek to remove barriers that often prevent businesses from succeeding.
Oil extraction tax bill moving slowly
Members of a conference committee working on an oil extraction tax bill for a second straight day held two meetings and made no progress. During a morning meeting on House Bill 1234 the committee was presented with fiscal information on the bill’s estimated impact during the 2015-17 biennium. When they reconvened in the afternoon they immediately adjourned after deciding to wait on additional fiscal information.
Deputy Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger presented a rough 2015-17 biennium fiscal estimate to the committee. He said changes to stripper well properties would increase revenue by about $220 million in the 2015-17 biennium. Rauschenberger said the estimates are based on 10 percent growth in both oil production and in oil extraction tax revenue during the 2015-17 biennium. An estimated price of $80 per barrel of oil also was used.
Amendments to HB1234 also would exempt wells drilled on stripper wells properties from being granted stripper well status drilled after June 30, 2013. It also would change the definition of a stripper well to a well with 30 barrels of oil per day in production. The amended HB1234 would reduce the oil extraction tax from 6.5 percent to 6 percent after Sept. 30, 2014. Rauschenberger said the estimated loss of revenue to the state would be $80 million in 2013-15 and would increase further in 2015-17. “(It) goes to $264 million in the 2015-17 biennium,” Rauschenberger said. The change to an even split in the share of oil taxes between the state and tribes on the Fort Berthold Reservation would create a $37.5 million revenue reduction in 2013-15 and $119.9 million in 2015-17.
Senators advance renewable energy tax incentive bill
Senators moved forward Wednesday on promoting renewable energies in the state with a bill that would give incentives to companies -- initially a Kansas wind energy company -- to develop in rural Nebraska. Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop said he prioritized the bill (LB104) to remove a barrier to the development and export of wind energy in Nebraska. "It is going to be a boon for rural Nebraska," he said. "You can't bring more money and more development to rural Nebraska by any other way than the development of wind farms."
The bill advanced to a second round of debate on a 30-0 vote. Nebraska has an opportunity to see $300 million to $400 million of investment yet this year, Lathrop said. It is a preferred investment location for TradeWind Energy of Lenexa, Kan., but the company needs LB104 to get to the finish line, said Executive Vice President Frank Costanza. It has been developing the Rattlesnake Creek Wind project in Dixon County, the first export project in Nebraska, for more than two years.
Mo. House passes bill cutting income tax and raising sales tax
JEFFERSON CITY • Missourians would pay higher sales taxes and lower state income taxes under a bill passed by the House on Wednesday. The sponsor, Rep. Andrew Koenig, R-St. Louis County, said the package of tax changes would help Missouri compete with states like Oklahoma and Kansas, which have reduced their income tax rates. “This bill would move our state forward,” he said. “If we want Missouri to remain competitive we need to reduce our income tax.”
Opponents said the bill would cost state coffers hundreds of millions of dollars, spurring budget cuts when the state is unable to adequately fund public schools and other services now. “I’m pretty sure most Mizzou alums would rather lead than follow any state, especially Kansas,” said Rep. Courtney Curtis, D-Berkeley. The House passed the bill on a vote of 90-68, which was far less than the 109-vote majority needed to override a veto of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. The governor has criticized an earlier version of the bill, saying it would favor corporations and hurt working families and seniors on fixed incomes.