Economic Prosperity

The State Government Leadership Foundation is committed to educating decision makers on how economic prosperity is best achieved and fostered. The State Government Leadership Foundation is committed to supporting policies that provide for less and more efficient government, which ultimately allows for the competitive environment and outstanding entrepreneurship that keeps the American economy strong, state by state.

The SGLF further believes that economic prosperity goes hand and hand with lowering the tax burden, while simultaneously lowering government spending. We believe this decreased tax burden will not only help America’s families, but will also help in America’s road to economic recovery. The SGLF also supports lower government spending at the state level. We support policies that aim to hold governments responsible for their spending habits.

Free market principles work best in our economy and help foster the entrepreneurial spirit that America is known for. By eliminating harmful and burdensome government red tape and by decreasing taxes and limiting spending, American businesses will be able to flourish.

Jobs

  • Although technically out of a recession, the United States is still experiencing a terrible economic downturn. National unemployment continues to hover around 7% and states across the country are seeing companies and jobs flee to other locations, leaving behind a trail of economically depressed cities and unemployed residents.
  • State leaders need to look for ways to incentivize businesses to open or relocate in their state. States that best do this have decreased government regulations, lower business taxes, tax incentives, and other economic development programs designed to stimulate growth.

Taxes, Spending, & Budgeting

  • The ballooning cost of government has been forcing legislators to consider tax increases in order to balance their budgets. The SGLF supports making government leaner and more efficient in order to avoid tax and fee increases. Families have had to make difficult decisions on how to save money in this economic downturn, and governments need to do the same. Belt tightening is also good for future fiscal policy, and helps states be proactive rather than reactive.
  • Spending too much is not an excuse for raising taxes. In order to stay true to prudent fiscal policy, states must reign in government spending instead of asking citizens to continue dishing out more of their hard-earned money, especially during these difficult economic times.
  • Rainy Day Funds, much like savings accounts, are also wise financial reserves to have in case of emergencies.
  • As was the case in many states once federal stimulus money was handed out, recurring expenses should not be funded with one-time revenue sources. Once that money dries up, the recurring expense is still present, and creates an even bigger issue on how to fund it in the future.
  • Identifying cost saving in all areas of the budget will serve as a responsible budget strategy as well as not allowing any area of the budget to remain immune from cuts, especially in these economic conditions.

Additional Resources


Enterprising States Executive Summary
Enterprising States Report
U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics: Databases, Tables, and Calculators
MarginalRevolution.com
Greg Mankiw's Blog: Random Observations for Students of Economics
Keith Hennessey's Blog
Congressional Budget Office: Employment and Labor Market Statistics

Regulation

  • Studies show that overall Americans are wary of government regulation on businesses. A Pew Research Center study conducted in 2009 asked whether or not surveyors thought regulation of business usually does more harm than good, and a majority of respondents agreed that regulation normally does more harm than good. Although their opinions may vary after drastic current events such as the recent financial crisis, in general Americans are wary about the effects of government regulations.

News & Articles

Tax Foundation Ranks State Business Tax Climate

Written by Jackson Brainerd for NCSL on November 14, 2014Economic Prosperity
Wyoming and South Dakota topped the rankings for states' business tax climate in the 2015 State Business Tax Climate Index released last week by the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The Index compares state' tax systems in terms of their friendliness to business and conduciveness to economic development. The 2015 Index is based on the premise that taxes play an important role in where businesses choose to locate, and that states use their tax systems to compete with one another for those businesses. For that reason, the Index asserts that an analysis of state tax policy offers the best explanation for economic growth.
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S&P puts negative outlook on Illinois credit rating

Written by Reuters for Chicago Tribune on July 23, 2014Economic Prosperity
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Wednesday revised the outlook on Illinois' A-minus credit rating to negative, citing risks over the implementation of a recent pension reform law. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Wednesday warned that Illinois' already low credit rating could sink further if the state is unable to implement reforms to curb its big unfunded pension liability and balance its budget. The credit rating agency revised the outlook on Illinois' A-minus credit rating to negative from developing, citing a recent state supreme court ruling that could derail a new pension reform law and the state's structurally imbalanced state budget. “If the pension reform is declared unconstitutional or invalid, or implementation is delayed and there is a continued lack of consensus and action among policymakers on the structural budget gaps and payables outstanding, we believe there could be a profound and negative effect on Illinois' budgetary performance and liquidity over the next two years and that this could lead to a downgrade,” S&P said in a statement.
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Ohio collecting more in online sales taxes

Written by Associated Press for Dayton Daily News on July 21, 2014Economic Prosperity
DAYTON — Online sales-tax collections hit a record $45 million in Ohio in the budget year that just ended, a 68 percent increase from five years ago. The money is pouring in after Ohio officially joined a multistate effort to streamline sales tax for online purchases in January. The Ohio Department of Taxation estimates that the state stands to eventually tap into $308 million worth of tax revenue from online sales. Still, Ohio doesn’t have legal authority to collect from online retailers that don’t have a physical location in the state. Amazon.com’s closest warehouse is in Hebron, Ky. The result: Many consumers don’t get charged sales tax on millions of dollars’ worth of purchases. While consumers save money, local businesses say the practice hurts them because bargain hunters will turn to online retailers that don’t charge taxes, especially for big-ticket items. Local governments say that even though the state is collecting more online sales taxes, they still are missing out on taxes that could help pay for paving roads and prosecuting criminals.
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S.D. GDP gets boost from agriculture, health care

Written by David Montgomery for Argus Leader on June 13, 2014Economic Prosperity
South Dakota's economy continued to grow last year, a broad boom led by agriculture, health care and finance. The 6.8 percent growth in South Dakota's GDP was fourth highest in the nation and almost twice the national rate. Adjusted for inflation, South Dakota's gross domestic product grew by 3.1 percent last year. That's still among the best rates in the country. Adjusting for inflation accounts for rising prices and provides a better comparison of the economy's strength. Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product is called "real GDP." The biggest contributor to South Dakota's economy boom was the farm sector. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting combined grew to $6.3 billion last year from $4.7 billion in 2012 — a 14.4 percent increase, adjusted for inflation.
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Boom offers economic growth, opportunities in La.

Written by TED GRIGGS AND TIMOTHY BOONE for The New Orleans Advocate on June 12, 2014Economic Prosperity
Methanex’s decision to relocate two methanol plants from Chile to Geismar demonstrates the advantages driving the industrial boom in south Louisiana: easy access to the Mississippi River, natural gas and large plots of land, as well as a major limitation, transportation, said Jessica Kemp, vice president of policy and advocacy at the Center for Planning Excellence. “If you drive down River Road, you’ll see a dozen similar sites and you’ll notice they all have these great big parking lots for these thousands of workers,” Kemp told attendees at the Connect Boom Without Bust Policy Forum. “You’ll also notice there’s only one way in and one way out." About 100 people were on hand for the opening session. The challenge for the state and southeast Louisiana in particular will be figuring out the best way to accommodate the coming industrial, business and residential growth and the resulting traffic, Kemp said. The goal is to create sustainable growth and avoid the bust that often follows a boom. The most conservative estimates show $60 billion in major project investment in the state, with $21 billion in the Baton Rouge-to-New Orleans corridor. “We don’t see a lot of what’s coming yet, but right now, it’s like a big cannonball moving through a python,” said Dan Borne, president of the Louisiana Chemical Association.
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Kentucky House and Senate Leaders Agree on State Budget

Written by Tom Loftus for The Courier-Journal on March 30, 2014Economic Prosperity
State Universities and teachers made some small gains, but Lexington lost the state funding it sought for the remake of Rupp Arena in a final budget agreement reached by legislative leaders Sunday morning. The budget accord came after 18 hours of negotiations that began at midday Saturday with a political shouting match and ended at 5:30 am Sunday with Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Republican Senate President Robert Stivers arm-in-arm. “We have reached a fiscally responsible budget, one that has a significant investment in education.” Stivers said. “It was feisty at times.” Said Stumbo, who started the shouting on Saturday. “But that’s just part of the political process.” The two leaders said they expected the agreement would be approved Monday by the House and Senate. 
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Louisiana $50 Billion coastal Restoration Plan Would Inject Billions More Into Economy Every Year, Study Finds

Written by Katherine Sayre for The Times-Picayune on March 27, 2014Economic Prosperity
Under Louisiana’s $50 billion, 50-year coastal restoration plan, the economy would see a boost from construction, cost savings from lower insurance and less hurricane damage, and the creation of a coastal science industry with the potential for being a global leader, according to a report released Thursday. Investing in implementing the plan – which calls for projects ranging from rebuilding barrier islands to raising buildings – would translate into billions of dollars more in economic benefits: $12.35 billion in annual spending, $757 million in annual state and local tax revenues and creation of 109,360 permanent jobs with $3.61 billion in annual earnings, according to the report by economist and former University of New Orleans chancellor Tim Ryan
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Oklahoma Senate approves conditional tax cut

A proposed change would cut the state’s income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent when Oklahoma’s general revenue reaches a certain point.

Written by Randy Ellis for News OK on February 27, 2014Economic Prosperity
The Oklahoma state Senate on Thursday approved a conditional state income tax cut. “I am pleased to present to you today legislation which honors the commitment that we made last year to reduce taxes for the hard-working taxpayers of Oklahoma,” said state Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, who presented Senate Bill 1246 on the Senate floor. The bill would cut Oklahoma’s top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent once certified projections for the state’s general revenue fund get back to where they were when the Legislature approved a tax cut last year. The earlier tax cut bill was struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court because it covered more than one topic.

The earliest the Senate’s new proposed tax cut could take place is the 2016 tax year. The bill contains a conditional provision for a subsequent cut in the top income tax rate to 4.85 percent as soon as the state’s revenue growth is enough to offset the amount that would otherwise be lost because of the additional tax cut. Mazzei told Senate members that about 70 percent of Oklahoma taxpayers would receive some reduction in their income taxes if the Senate bill becomes law.

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In plot twist, California needs tax breaks to lure film crews

Written by Lauren French for Politico on February 02, 2014Economic Prosperity
It’s a tale almost good enough for the big screen. Tired of seeing other states pony up big cash to attract television shows, movies and jobs, California is looking to boost its own tax breaks for entertainment projects. Democratic state Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra plans to introduce legislation in February to increase California’s $100 million-a-year budget for film and TV tax incentives and expand the type of productions able to claim tax credits to big-budget films and network shows, which are now excluded. It may seem ironic that the home of Hollywood needs to persuade studios to shoot in the state, but budget-tightening in the past decade has led to a system where nearly all location decisions are based on how much cash states dangle before production companies. And with nearly 40 states offering financial incentives, competition is fierce.
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Economists: Local, state economies continue recovery, but budget woes could loom

Written by Alicia Wallace for Daily Camera on January 30, 2014Economic Prosperity
The Boulder region and Colorado are doing "pretty darn well," from an economic standpoint, but some concern should be placed on the ongoing health of the state budget, two of Colorado's leading economists said Thursday. The year-over-year gains in Colorado's general fund mask a lurking problem: that a combination of factors could very well create a significant state funding gap in the future, said Richard Wobbekind, economist at the University of Colorado, and Phyllis Resnick, president of the Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University. Wobbekind and Resnick were joined by Josie Heath, president of the nonprofit Community Foundation Serving Boulder County, and William Farland, former chairman of nonprofit lab and science consortium CO-LABS, to share their insights about the local, state and national economy at the Boulder Economic Council's "2014 Economic Forecast: Boulder & Beyond." Resnick, speaking on a panel that preceded Wobbekind's keynote address, said Colorado's current revenue gains are "temporary phenomena." The state's budget in recent years has been propped up by one-time infusions such as federal stimulus dollars and housing credits that fueled growth in real estate and equity markets, she said.
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Boeing to shift research jobs to Missouri, Alabama, S. Carolina

Written by DAVID A. LIEB for Associated Press on December 12, 2013Economic Prosperity
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Boeing announced Thursday that it is shifting hundreds of jobs to Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina as part of a restructuring of its U.S. research operations over the next two years. The Chicago-based aerospace company said the reorganization will result in fewer research jobs in Washington state and California and is being undertaken to better meet the needs of its commercial airplane, military and space and security units. The announcement comes as those same states, and several others, are competing to assemble Boeing's 777X passenger plane — a much-sought-after facility that could generate thousands of jobs. Boeing spokesman Daryl Stephenson said the restructuring of the company's research operations has been in the works for several years and is unrelated to the new airplane or Boeing's contract negotiations with a Seattle area machinists union.

The research restructuring will add 300-400 employees each in the St. Louis area, Huntsville, Ala., and North Charleston, S.C. Research jobs will decline by 800-1,200 in the Seattle area and by 200-300 in southern California, the company said. The restructuring is to start early next year and be complete by 2015. After the changes, Boeing will still have about 4,000 employees in its research and technology operations, but they will no longer be concentrated predominantly on the West Coast. The Seattle and St. Louis sites will have the most employees, and each site will have specific research tasks. The Alabama site is to focus on simulation and decision analytics and metals and chemical technology. The southern California location is to focus on flight sciences, electronics and networked systems. The St. Louis site is to conduct research on systems technology, digital aviation and support technology, and metallic and fabrication development.
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Iowa business interests push tax changes

Written by Rod Boshart for WCF Courier on December 11, 2013Economic Prosperity
DES MOINES | Iowa’s big-city business leaders Wednesday called for a simpler, flatter income tax and a higher gas tax to help fix roads and bridges. Leaders of the Iowa Chamber Alliance, representing business interests in the state’s 16 largest urban areas, say Iowa’s complicated income tax system for individuals and corporations is hard to explain to businesses looking to locate in the state. Deteriorating infrastructure also hurts business recruitment efforts, the said in outlining their priorities for the 2014 legislative session. “Iowa’s road system requires immediate attention,” said Kelly Halstead, economic development director for the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance. She said her nonpartisan group supports new or alternative sources of revenue, including a fuel tax increase.

Alliance leaders also said they support efforts to simplify and reduce income taxes, allowing businesses and individuals to choose to file under the current system or to use a filing alternative that would be simpler, with lower rates and fewer deductions. Steve Firman, director of government relations for the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber in Waterloo-Cedar Falls, said Iowa ranked 40th among states in the Tax Foundation’s 2014 tax climate comparisons because it’s difficult to explain the complexity of federal deductibility that skews Iowa’s true rates. “In economic development, if you’re explaining, you’re losing,” Firman said.
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A tax cut in North Carolina, but first, new paperwork

Written by David Ranii and Virginia Bridges for The Charlotte Observer on December 08, 2013Economic Prosperity
The most significant overhaul of North Carolina tax law in a generation takes effect in a few weeks, ushering in sweeping changes that include more take-home pay and a broader sales tax that includes movie and concert tickets. But first comes the paperwork. Most taxpayers are being asked to complete a new form this month, a direct consequence of the new income tax system. It’s a complication – some would say hassle – for employees and employers alike that is drawing complaints even from some who cheered when GOP lawmakers pushed through a new tax bill and Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law in July.

The new law lowers individual income tax rates to a flat 5.8 percent in 2014 and eliminates dozens of deductions from state returns. The change means employees must fill out a revised form – the equivalent of the federal W-4 – that will determine how much state income tax is withheld by their employer. Those who receive pensions and annuities must also complete the new forms. George Ports, senior executive at CAI, a human resource management firm with offices in Raleigh and Greensboro, said employers have been calling and asking: “Is this for real?”
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Business tax cut tops Pence legislative agenda

Written by Dan Carden for The Times of North West Indiana on December 05, 2013Economic Prosperity
INDIANAPOLIS | Ignoring data showing that Indiana's decade of trickle-down prosperity policies haven't improved the income, health or quality of life for most Hoosiers, Gov. Mike Pence promised Thursday to deliver still more business-centered programs in the upcoming legislative session. "I think a rising tide lifts all boats," Pence said. "So we're continuing to promote policies that will encourage investment and jobs." The top item on the Republican governor's Roadmap 2014 is eliminating the business personal property tax, which would sap another $1 billion a year from cash-strapped schools and local governments already forced to cut services due to the $950 million annual impact of property tax caps.

Pence said Indiana's tax on business equipment, which 38 other states also impose, is an impediment to companies considering relocating to the state, and eliminating it will further improve Indiana's already top-rated business tax climate. "I truly do believe that by phasing out the business personal property tax in the state of Indiana we will ensure that Indiana remains in the very forefront of the competition to attract new investment and jobs," Pence said.
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Alabama House Republicans release "Commonsense Conservative" agenda for 2014 session

Written by Mike Cason for AL.com on December 05, 2013Economic Prosperity
MONTGOMERY, Alabama --- The Alabama House Republican Caucus today released its 2014 legislative agenda, which House Speaker Mike Hubbard of Auburn said would help businesses and the state’s economy. Several of the bills are intended to streamline or reduce taxes, according to summaries of the bills released by the caucus. The caucus dubbed the nine-bill package the "Commonsense Conservative" agenda. The 2014 session will be the last regular session of the four-year term. Republicans have controlled the Legislature since winning filibuster-proof majorities in 2010. Before that, Democrats had controlled the Legislature for more than 130 years. Hubbard said next year’s agenda would be a strong complement to bills the Republicans have passed during the term. “We’re not done building,” Hubbard said. “We’ll continue that in the next quadrennium. But for this quadrennium, it’s a perfect way to cap it off.”
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Legislature Passes Fix For $100B Pension Crisis

Written by Sean Powers and Jeff Bossert for Willradio.tv.online on December 03, 2013Economic Prosperity
The Illinois Legislature has approved a historic plan to eliminate the state's $100 billion pension shortfall, considered the worst in the nation. The House voted 62-53 Tuesday in favor of the plan, which the Senate approved just minutes earlier. It now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he will sign it. Legislative leaders say the plan will save the state $160 billion over 30 years by cutting retirement benefits for hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees.Ahead of the vote, House Speaker Michael Madigan defended the pension plan, saying it is not a one-sided bill.

“There will be changes here, much needed changes," Madigan said. "This bill is a well thought out, well balanced bill that deserves the support of this body, the state Senate, and the approval of Governor Quinn.” Republican House Minority Leader Jim Durkin also stressed the importance of passing the pension overhaul. “I think it’s ironic today that the Detroit bankruptcy judge as it was mentioned earlier did rule that the city of Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy protection," Durkin said. "Our failure to act and to move in a positive manner like today could ultimately put these systems in the same position as the city of Detroit and shame on us if that occurs.”
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Nevada money aimed at attracting federal drone program

Written by SEAN WHALEY for LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL on November 26, 2013Economic Prosperity
CARSON CITY — Nevada is preparing to get into the drone business. The state Board of Examiners will be asked Dec. 3 to approve a request from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to use $1.46 million from a legislative contingency fund to oversee the start-up of an unmanned aerial vehicle program in Nevada. The funding request is contingent upon Nevada’s designation as a national test site for the drone program. The states winning out in the competition are expected to be notified by the Federal Aviation Administration by Dec. 31. There are 25 finalists for six sites.

If approved by the Board of Examiners, the funding request will go to the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee on Dec. 9 for consideration. The 2013 Legislature set aside $4 million for the economic development office to assist in drone test site development efforts. Gov. Brian Sandoval, a member of the Board of Examiners, pushed for the funding in the 2013 session, noting that Nevada has been hosting military drone operations for years. If Nevada is selected, Sandoval said the designation could bring thousands of jobs, generate $125 million in annual state and local tax revenue and have an overall economic impact of $2.5 billion.
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No Nebraska counties will impose sales tax in 2014

Written by GRANT SCHULTE for The Associated Press on November 26, 2013Economic Prosperity
The only Nebraska county with a sales tax will end it next year, state tax commissioner Kim Conroy said Tuesday. Dakota County is planning to stop its half-cent sales tax in 2014, because a voter-approved referendum has helped pay for a new jail and law enforcement center. Joan Spencer, an assistant to the Board of Commissioners, said the county started collecting sales tax money for the project  Jan. 1, 2005. The  tax generated $7.8 million to pay off 10-year bonds. Spencer said the county paid off the bonds early, so the tax no longer was necessary.

Nebraska has 93 counties and 530 cities. As of Jan. 1, the state will have 208 cities that impose  local option sales taxes, ranging from a half-cent to 1.5 cents per dollar. Seward is among the cities planning to raise their sales taxes to 1.5 percent next year. But Dakota County is the only county statewide to levy a sales tax, according to the Nebraska Department of Revenue. Local-option sales taxes are more common among  cities; counties mostly rely on property taxes and, to a lesser extent, the inheritance tax and fees. The Dakota County sales tax has applied only to unincorporated areas and in cities or villages that didn't already have a sales tax, Conroy said. The sales tax did not apply to South Sioux City or the village of Jackson, because both levy sales taxes of their own.
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Idaho jobless claims drop to lowest since 2006

Written by The Associated Press for The Idaho Statesman on November 26, 2013Economic Prosperity
BOISE, IDAHO — Idaho's unemployment insurance claims dropped to their lowest level since 2006, a year of strong economic growth that preceded the deep recession that began in December 2007. The Department of Labor said Monday it paid 7,462 regular benefit claims during the third week of November, 14 fewer than that week in 2006. The amount paid was still 23 percent higher than 2006, however, because the average benefit is $25 higher this year at $255, reflecting benefit increases over the past seven years. Through the third week of November, the total regular benefit payout was $108.1 million, compared to $91.3 million through the same 47 weeks in 2006. In addition to regular unemployment benefits, the department paid $585,000 in federally-financed extended benefits to 2,500 long-term unemployed workers. Those end Dec. 31.

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In 16 states, unemployment is at its lowest in at least four years

Written by NIRAJ CHOKSHI for The Washington Post on November 25, 2013Economic Prosperity
Unemployment reached multi-year lows for about a third of states last month, but a full jobs recovery is still not here. Sixteen states saw the jobless rate in October fall to its lowest level in more than four years. In all but two, October unemployment was at its lowest level since late 2008 or the early months of 2009. In Minnesota, unemployment hasn’t been this low since January 2008. And it’s been more than a decade since North Dakota saw an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent as it did in October. (The last time was August 2001.) In all, unemployment dropped from September to last month in 39 states. And only three states—Arkansas, Oklahoma and Ohio—saw nearly two-year highs.

But the situation isn’t as rosy as those statistics suggest. The jobs recovery still pales in comparison to the recoveries following the 1981, 1990 and 2001 recessions, according to data from Doug Hall, director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network at the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank focused on the needs of low- and middle-income workers. Unemployment had nearly or fully recovered this many months after the start of the three other recessions, as depicted in Hall’s chart below. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, however, it remains high relative to where it was at the start.
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Montana unemployment rate falls to 5.2 percent

Written by Associated Press for Missoulian on November 22, 2013Economic Prosperity
HELENA – The state Labor Department says Montana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in October, after holding at 5.3 percent since July. The national unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in October. Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy says Montana added over 750 jobs in September, but lost 57 in October. The state has added 1,722 jobs since October 2012. Montana’s unemployment rate was as low as 3.1 percent in late 2006 and rose as high as 6.8 percent in the second half of 2010. It has been on a downward trend since mid-2011.
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Pa. Senate approves $2.3B for roads, bridges, transit

Written by Amy Worden for The Philadelphia Inquirer on November 20, 2013Economic Prosperity
HARRISBURG - In a single afternoon, the state Senate on Wednesday did what the House had agonized over for months: approved a $2.3 billion transportation funding bill to repair aging highways and bridges, and bolster mass transit across the state. The vote cements a major victory for Gov. Corbett by delivering the biggest transportation spending plan in 15 years, one to address critical infrastructure needs while creating tens of thousands of jobs. "This legislation is key to the success of Pennsylvania and health and welfare of the region," said Sen. John Rafferty (R., Montgomery), chairman of the Transportation Committee. The bill now goes back to the House for a pro forma vote Thursday afternoon. It could be signed by Corbett the same day.
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Wisconsin crowdfunding bill opens early stage investing to average citizens

Written by MIKE IVEY for The Capital Times on November 20, 2013Economic Prosperity
Crowdfunding — the idea of getting lots of people to donate small amounts of cash for a particular project or organization — has been around since long before the Internet. The concept has been used for everything from public radio pledge drives to helping families with medical bills. With advances in technology, however, crowdfunding has become a popular way to raise money for just about any purpose, from an art project to a video game startup. To date, there have been two distinct ways of using electronic crowdfunding. One is using websites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, where people funding an idea get something in return for their money. For example, the developers of Pebble Smartwatch raised more than $10 million by offering investors the first batches of watches once they were manufactured, and at a discount.

The other type of crowdfunding is aimed at more serious investors who are looking to take an equity stake in a company. Platforms like CircleUp offer legitimate businesses a way to do an initial public offering, where the public can buy stock in a new venture. But regulations from the Securities and Exchange Commission limit equity crowdfunding activity to “accredited investors,” defined as individuals with a net worth of $1 million or more (not counting a primary residence) and income of at least $200,000 annually or $300,000 for a couple.
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SC governor receives report on regulatory review

Written by BRUCE SMITH for Associated Press on November 15, 2013Economic Prosperity
A panel reviewing the approximately 3,000 regulations that South Carolina's state agencies use has presented its report to Gov. Nikki Haley. Haley received the report, which includes an executive summary and 2,000 pages of appendices, on Friday. She told reporters on the Isle of Palms she will spend the weekend plowing through the report of the Regulatory Review Task Force. Haley created the 11-member group by executive order this year and told the panel to review state regulations to determine which can be tossed out and which need to be changed. Haley said one thing is clear and that's agency regulations are made much too easily. She would like to see state lawmakers vote on each individual regulation so they have a better idea of what the rules are for.
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Pension rates to ease

VRS to vote today; rise for two local counties likely less than forecast

Written by MICHAEL MARTZ for Richmond Times-Dispatch on November 14, 2013Economic Prosperity
Local governments will likely get a welcome surprise when they receive their biennial notice of pension rates for their employees next month — a reduction in what they’ll have to contribute to local retirement plans for the next two years. Or, in the case of localities such as Chesterfield and Henrico counties, the rates will be lower than they expected a year ago, while slightly higher than what they’re paying now. The Virginia Retirement System board of trustees is expected to vote today on contribution rates for 583 local pension plans, covering almost 150,000 active and retired employees of counties, cities, towns, and political subdivisions as small as local housing authorities. On average, those rates will go down to 9.91 percent of payroll, compared with 10.63 percent currently paid and 11.11 percent that VRS predicted a year ago.
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