What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/31

CA: In California state government, women earn 80 cents on the dollar compared to men

The gender pay gap among state workers is bigger than the gap in California’s private sector and in the federal workforce. And it’s a touchy bargaining point in stalled labor negotiations for the state unions that represent workers in female-majority occupations a year after Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed an ambitious law that aims to shrink the gender wage gap across public and private workplaces.

MO: Missouri voters to weigh ban on expanding sales tax to services

Missouri voters will be the first in the nation to decide whether to amend their state constitution to prohibit sales taxes from being expanded to services like car repairs, haircuts, legal work and financial accounting. The proposal is a backlash against efforts to extend sales taxes beyond goods to keep pace with the service-based economy. 

MA: Outside money flows for Massachusetts ballot battles

High-stakes battles to legalize marijuana and expand charter schools have sparked a tsunami of spending on Massachusetts ballot-question campaigns, much of it from out of state. The spending has already eclipsed the record-breaking $30.2 million spent in 2014 — by close to 70 percent.

VA, US: Supreme Court takes up school bathroom rules for transgender students

The Supreme Court said it will review a case from Gloucester County, Virginia, and decide whether the Obama administration may require public school systems to let transgender students use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

LA: Louisiana budget deficit larger than expected

Louisiana's midyear budget deficit is estimated to be around $313 million, a gap likely to result in larger than anticipated budget cuts to already-stretched state services such as higher education and health care.

KS: Court orders, flood of registrations delay certification of Kansas voter rolls

Large Kansas counties are still working past deadline to certify their voters’ lists because of a rush of last-minute registrations and court orders resulting from lawsuits that challenged the state’s proof of citizenship rule.

MD: Maryland governor proposes budget trim

The University System of Maryland would eliminate about a hundred positions under a plan by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to trim $82 million from the fiscal 2017 budget. The $18.2 million cut to the university system is part of a larger effort to close what could amount to a $250 million gap in the state’s $42 billion budget.

CA, ME, NV, WA: Four states to weigh tougher gun control

Voters in California, Maine, Nevada and Washington will decide whether to enact tougher firearms laws. In a change from past elections, there are no statewide initiatives seeking to expand gun rights anywhere in the U.S.

NM: New Mexico to stop tax refund holds on foreigners

The New Mexico tax department has agreed to stop automatically withholding income tax refunds from many foreign nationals without Social Security numbers who file under alternative identification numbers provided by the IRS, a New Mexico state senator involved in the settlement said.

NE: Nebraska lawmakers facing nearly $1 billion budget shortfall next year

The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board reduced previous revenue estimates based on the gloomy agricultural economy and on lower-than-expected tax receipts this year. Revenues are expected to fall $910 million below estimated expenses from now through the end of the next budget period.

US: Union-led redevelopment program to expand to more Rust Belt cities

The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust's effort that's helping improve homes and create jobs in Detroit is being expanded to other Rust Belt cities such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh and St. Louis as part of a $2.1 billion effort to help communities struggling with aging neighborhoods, disinvestment and unemployment.

Opioid-Abuse Treatment Church and State