What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 8/26

US: Labor Department makes it easier for states to launch retirement plans

The department unveiled a rule to help states create plans that would automatically enroll private-sector workers who don’t have access to savings accounts on the job in individual retirement accounts.

NM: New Mexico faces more than $450 million in deficits

The state is forecast to have a $325 million deficit in its current year’s budget. That’s on top of a $131 million hole from last year’s, a sum New Mexico lawmakers plan to cover with money from the state’s tobacco settlement fund.

US: How cuts to public universities have driven students out of state

Declines in state support for public universities have helped reshape the geography of public college admissions, leading many students to attend universities far from home, where they pay higher, out-of-state tuition.

WY: Wyoming lawmakers consider cutting sales tax exemptions

In an effort to raise revenue, Wyoming lawmakers are considering eliminating some exemptions from the state sales tax, such as those for manufacturing equipment and computers for data centers, and requiring some untaxed services to be taxed.

US: Harvard, Bloomberg start project to train mayors

Harvard University says it’s partnering with Michael Bloomberg to provide leadership training to mayors across the U.S. The former New York City mayor is donating $32 million to train up to 300 mayors over the next four years.

WI: Wisconsin targets 1 million unregistered voters with mailing

Wisconsin’s newly created Elections Commission will send a postcard next month to between 1 million and 1.5 million unregistered voters detailing what they can do to cast a ballot in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

VA: Lawmakers ask why the University of Virginia stockpiled billions while boosting tuition

Virginia lawmakers asked the state’s flagship university to justify building $2.2 billion in reserves separate from its endowment fund, while raising the price of in-state tuition for incoming freshmen 30 percent since 2013.

NC: U.S. Justice Department decries North Carolina’s voter ID law

The Justice Department told the U.S. Supreme Court in court filings that keeping North Carolina’s photo ID mandate and other rules in place for the November elections would harm black voters.

IL: Illinois attorney general sues drugmaker over fentanyl marketing

Illinois’ Democratic attorney general, Lisa Madigan, sued Insys Therapeutics Inc., accusing it of deceptively marketing and selling a highly addictive fentanyl-based medication, intended to treat cancer pain, to doctors for off-label uses.

GA: Georgia voters will decide on schools, judicial oversight

Georgians will be asked in November to vote on proposed constitutional amendments on failing schools, judicial oversight, funding for trauma care and help for victims of sex trafficking.

TX: Nearly a third of Texas teachers must work second jobs, survey says

Texas teachers receive an average salary of $51,758, which is $6,306 below the national average. And that requires many of them to work second jobs. 

Saving Carpooling Teacher Shortages