What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/17

US: High school graduation rate reaches new high

High school graduation rates have reached a record high of 83.2 percent, continuing a steady increase that shows improvement across all ethnic groups.

FL: Florida Supreme Court rules jury must be unanimous on death penalty

The state’s high court declared unconstitutional Florida’s law that allowed a death sentence when 10 of 12 jurors agreed, saying the verdict must be unanimous.

GA, NC: Judges extend voter registration in Georgia, North Carolina

Judges in Georgia and North Carolina ordered state election officials to extend voter-registration deadlines in some counties because of disruption caused by Hurricane Matthew. The rulings came after Republican Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia and North Carolina's state board of elections' executive director declined to extend the deadlines.

NJ: New Jersey governor signs gasoline tax hike, restarts halted projects

Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed a 23 cents-a-gallon increase in New Jersey’s gasoline tax into law and ordered bridge, road and transit projects that have been stalled since July restarted.

CA: California cities seek record tax hikes

California is booming, yet many of its cities aren’t feeling it and are asking voters next month to approve the most sales tax increases on record.

OH: Ohio the latest to bar Wells Fargo from state business

Republican Gov. John Kasich is barring Wells Fargo from participating in Ohio debt offerings or financial services for a year. Ohio joins California, Illinois, and Chicago in banning the bank from participating in government business over a scandal involving as many as 2 million bogus accounts.

KY: Kentucky retirement systems to get out of hedge funds

The $14.9 billion Kentucky Retirement Systems plans to end its controversial investments in hedge funds. Public pension systems in California and New York already have begun divesting from hedge funds after deeming them too risky.

NV: Nevada governor to sign bill to help finance NFL stadium

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval will sign a bill that provides $750 million in public financing for an NFL stadium in Las Vegas designed to house the Oakland Raiders. The Nevada stadium deal also calls for $650 million from the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. chairman Sheldon Adelson and $500 million from the Raiders.

NE: Nebraska tax revenue down in September

Net tax collections were about $25 million less than expected last month. Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts cut agency allotments by an additional 1 percent for the third quarter, which begins in January, but said he’s not likely to call a special budget-cutting session of the Nebraska Legislature.

NY: Fees meant to update New York's 911 system get diverted to other uses

New York trails other states in modernizing its 911 systems to handle greater cellphone use, in part because lawmakers routinely divert money intended for that purpose and use it to plug holes in the state budget. It's the only northeastern state with gaps in service in rural areas. Few places can accept text messages. And its high-rise cities are unable to detect the floor from which cellphone calls are placed.

WI: Boosts in Wisconsin state school aid will help taxes, not classrooms

About 60 percent of Wisconsin school districts will get a boost in state aid over the next year, but the money will flow through to property tax relief instead of funding for classrooms.

TX: Despite governor's boasts, Texas has not blocked Planned Parenthood funds

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and other state officials are largely silent on why they haven't fulfilled vows to cut off funds for women's health programs offered to poor Texas women by Planned Parenthood. Abbott has raised campaign funds off the issue, but cutting the funding might violate federal law.

Taxing Nonprofits Soda Tax