What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/15

IL: $7.8 billion deficit predicted for Illinois despite budget deal

Illinois’ stopgap budget for the first half of the new budget year means expenses will outstrip revenue by a record-setting $7.8 billion, a legislative analysis shows. And Comptroller Leslie Munger warned that the state could face a $10 billion backlog of unpaid bills by December.

AK: Alaska governor warns of disaster if Legislature stalls on budget

Independent Gov. Bill Walker painted a dire picture if Alaska lawmakers fail to adopt new sales and income taxes in the current special legislative session, saying there would be a 75 percent reduction in public safety services, a 67 percent cut to education, and an 80 percent reduction in transportation services in two years.

NY: New York governor announces crackdown on synthetic drugs

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said police will increase enforcement, and the State Liquor Authority and New York Gaming Commission will have the ability to revoke liquor and lottery licenses if stores are found illegally selling K2 and other synthetic drugs.

MI: Michigan governor seeks state Supreme Court opinion on school funding

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to issue an opinion on whether the new state budget violates the constitution by providing money to pay private schools for the cost of state requirements such as background checks for employees, immunizations and compliance with state building, health and fire codes.

RI: Rhode Island governor vetoes grandparents’ adoption rights bill

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo vetoed a bill that would have given grandparents with temporary custody of their grandchildren adoption rights. She said the bill could undermine the rights of Rhode Island parents and inadvertently hinder the state’s ability to place children temporarily with grandparents.

MD: Maryland parole agents say there are not enough of them to do their jobs adequately

Parole and probation agents in Maryland said the state is woefully ill-equipped to deal with the hundreds of nonviolent prisoners who could be released next year under the state’s new criminal justice reform law.

MA: Massachusetts governor cuts funds for early-voting program

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed $1.2 million that election officials argue is critical for a new statewide early-voting program that would expand polling places and hours. The early voting law is intended to allow state residents to vote up to 11 business days before Election Day.

CO: Energy companies spend big to fight Colorado ballot initiatives

Companies in Colorado are spending millions of dollars to derail a push by environmentalists to put measures on November's ballot that would stifle oil and gas drilling in the state by transferring regulatory control of energy to local governments and create more stringent setback requirements to keep drilling away from occupied structures.

MS: Mississippi sued over charter school funding

A lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center asks a state court to strike down the funding provisions of the Mississippi Charter School Act, describing it as an unconstitutional scheme that diverts public tax dollars from traditional public schools.

WY: Fees for Wyoming state parks could increase

The Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources is considering raising fees at state parks, as visitation is on the rise and state revenue dwindles.

NJ: New Jersey’s highway and bridge construction could mean big job, revenue loss

Highway builders warn that the week-old shutdown could mean unemployment for 1,700 construction workers, cost taxpayers $41 million and result in $1.3 billion in lost economic activity. Republican Gov. Chris Christie authorized the shutdown when the Legislature failed to replenish the state's $8 billion Transportation Trust Fund.

Prison Education Top State Stories 7/14
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