What We're Reading: Top State Stories 11/17

IL: Illinois budget stalemate means state’s unpaid bills could reach $13.5 billion

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget office estimates the state’s backlog of unpaid bills will hit a record $13.5 billion by July if the Illinois governor and Democrats who control the General Assembly remain deadlocked over a spending plan.

CO: A record September for Colorado’s marijuana shops

Colorado marijuana shops reeled in $127.8 million in sales of medical and recreational cannabis in September. So far this year, sales have topped $974.3 million in nine months, about $22 million shy of the $996.2 million revenue total for all of last year. 

NY: New York governor announces ethics reforms

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would appoint a procurement officer to review all contracts involving New York state funds, a clear nod to the revelation this fall that three of his former aides and advisers had orchestrated a bribery and bid-rigging scheme in which economic development contracts were steered to a few favored developers.

WV: West Virginia governor orders 2 percent budget cuts

Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered West Virginia state agencies to cut their spending by another 2 percent, a move expected to save $59.8 million. The state faces an $87 million budget shortfall.

MO: Missouri appeals court rules frozen embryos are property, not people

A divorced man and woman must mutually consent to using embryos that were frozen and stored while married, a Missouri appellate court has ruled, declaring the embryos marital property, not humans with constitutional rights. 

TX: Most border arrests by Texas troopers are not for drug smuggling

The Texas Department of Public Safety has added more troopers to the border, ostensibly to go after drug and human smugglers. But most of their arrests are for drunk driving and misdemeanor drug possession.

OH: Local governments oppose new Ohio development bill

Local officials are criticizing a business-backed bill in the Legislature that would offer property tax breaks for more economic development efforts, saying it would further shift the local tax burden to Ohio homeowners.

GA: Enrollment in Georgia universities reaches record high

More than 321,000 students were enrolled in University System of Georgia schools this fall, the highest level in the past 10 years. That’s due in part to Georgia’s “move on when ready” policy that allows high school students to attend college full-time during their junior and senior years.

MD: Tax mix-up for Maryland localities more widespread than thought

An independent audit has found that nearly all of Maryland’s taxing districts were affected by the state sending local income-tax revenue to the wrong jurisdictions since 2010, expanding the scope of a problem that county and city officials discovered last year.

CA: Amid economic uncertainty, California’s finances could weather mild recession

California’s finances will stay in the black over the next four budget years, the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst projected, while warning of “considerable uncertainty” about the state of the economy.

WI: 19 Wisconsin ballots rejected over voter ID

At least 19 Wisconsin ballots cast in last week’s elections were rejected because voters lacked valid photo IDs. While that’s a tiny fraction of the more than 2.9 million ballots tallied, it provides an early look at how the state’s voter ID law played out in its biggest test to date.

NM: New Mexico courts brace for cuts

Short on cash but flush with cases, the New Mexico judicial branch is preparing to delay payments to jurors — for four months or more — and enact employee furloughs in appellate courts unless it gets emergency funding.

VT: Vermont panel recommends four-year terms

If Vermonters want to save money and modernize government, the state should begin with four-year terms for the governor, state senators and representatives, a new report recommends. Vermont's two-year terms foster a culture that gets in the way of efficiency, the report says.

Coal Jobs Automatic Voter Registration