What We’re Reading: Top State Stories 9/23

US: Sluggish revenue dims outlook for state budgets

Drooping sales and income tax revenue in the first half of the year could put holes in state budgets, the Rockefeller Institute of Government reports. Revenue slumped by 2.1 percent in the second quarter based on preliminary data, after growing just 1.6 percent in the first quarter compared to last year.

US: Number of fatal police shootings on same pace as last year

Police in the United States are on pace to fatally shoot about as many people this year as they did last year, when officers shot and killed nearly 1,000 civilians.

NJ: Cancer-causing metal found in water systems across New Jersey

Tests of tap water have found Chromium-6 in water systems in every county in New Jersey. The metal has been linked to liver damage, reproductive and developmental problems and cancer. 

KY: Kentucky governor’s budget cuts for universities ruled illegal

The Kentucky Supreme Court said Republican Gov. Matt Bevin exceeded his authority by cutting state universities’ budgets by 2 percent this spring, after the General Assembly had already appropriated their funding.

US: Immigration does more good than harm to economy, study finds

Waves of immigrants coming into the U.S. in recent decades have helped the economy over the long haul and had little lasting impact on the wages or employment levels of native-born Americans, according to one of the most comprehensive studies yet on the topic.

TX: Cases of improper teacher-student relationships in Texas schools hit 8-year high

The Texas Education Agency investigated 222 teachers in fiscal 2016, which ended Aug. 31. That’s an 80 percent increase from 2008 and the seven-investigator team has 1,110 open cases.

WY: Wyoming cigarette tax increase up in smoke after Big Tobacco opposition

Budget-pressed lawmakers rejected a proposal to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes in Wyoming, which has some of the lowest tobacco taxes and highest smoking rates in the country, after lobbyists representing nicotine companies objected.

MD: Number of overdose deaths in Maryland climbs

The number of drug- and alcohol-related overdose deaths in Maryland in the first half of the year jumped more than 50 percent from the same period last year. From January to June, there were 920 fatal overdoses this year — an escalation of the opioid overdose epidemic that startled even some working in public health.

HI: Hawaii weighs fee for miles driven to replace gas tax

Hawaii could do away with gas taxes and replace them with a road-use charge, depending on the results of a proposed statewide trial program.

NM: New Mexico didn’t collect $193 million in taxes from insurance companies

Republican State Auditor Tim Keller said in a report that New Mexico should have collected more than $193 million between April 2010 and April 2015 in premium taxes from insurers who do business in the state.

CA: Southern California regulators mull hike in vehicle registration fees to reduce smog

The idea is one component of a funding proposal under development that will guide efforts to reduce emissions in Southern California, the nation's smoggiest region, over the next 15 years.

ME: Maine business groups say the state needs more immigrants

Maine needs to do more to attract immigrants to counter a shrinking workforce in a state with an aging population, two business organizations said, in a report that warned that a smaller workforce would affect economic growth.

WI: Ideas for budget cuts in Wisconsin: Single license plate, county-paid parole

Wisconsin vehicles would no longer be required to have two license plates, counties would pay for state parole services, and emergency management would stop stockpiling sandbags for communities to fend off floods, under $606 million in hypothetical budget cuts agencies have submitted to Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s office.

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