What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/2

Top State Stories 2/2

KS: Kansas tax receipts higher than expected in January; Budget shortfall remains

Kansas took in about $24 million more than anticipated in January, the third month in a row that revenue has met or exceeded expectations after the state revised its revenue projections downward. The state still faces a budget shortfall of more than $310 million.

WI: Wisconsin governor wants to expand low-income tax credit he once cut

Republican Gov. Scott Walker is reversing course on a key tax credit for the working poor, proposing to raise incomes for more than 130,000 Wisconsin families by returning the more than $20 million a year he cut from the Earned Income Tax Credit in 2011.

KY: Kentucky governor ‘bans the box’ for state job applications

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed an executive order that would remove questions about criminal convictions from job applications to work in the state executive branch and encouraged Kentucky’s private employers to do the same. He said people who have paid their debt deserve a second chance.

CT: Connecticut House, Senate narrowly approve pension deal

The Connecticut House and Senate approved a plan to restructure the state’s unfunded pension obligations, spreading payments out to 2047 in exchange for avoiding a $6 billion payment looming in 2032. Republican leaders supported an alternative plan that would have relied more on union givebacks.

GA: A Super Bowl trip tempts some Georgia politicians

Some of Georgia’s top politicians are planning a trip to watch the Atlanta Falcons play in the Super Bowl for the first time in nearly two decades, even if it means facing questions about using taxpayer money to pay for the journey to Houston.

HI: Hawaii bills aim to save parts of Affordable Care Act

Concerned about the dissolution of the Affordable Care Act, Hawaii lawmakers are introducing bills to merge into state law the consumer protections they consider the best parts of the federal health care program.

UT: Utah Senate appears ready to OK runoff elections for crowded primaries

The Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that allows for a runoff election in the event that four or more candidates run for a partisan nomination and no one candidate receives more than 35 percent of the vote. The bill requires an additional vote in the Senate before moving to the Utah House.

AZ: Rash of Arizona firings slows amid tighter oversight

Firings of Arizona state government workers plummeted during the final three months of 2016, with just 17 involuntary separations in December, following a series of stories that uncovered questionable and improper dismissals at state agencies.

TX: Texas lawmakers aim to eliminate death penalty for convicts who didn't kill

At least two Democrats and one Republican are pushing to reform the Texas death penalty under the state’s “law of parties,” which holds all those involved in a murder equally responsible, even if they weren't directly involved in the actual killing.

ND: North Dakota House approves state hiring freeze

Amid a downturn in oil and agriculture prices, North Dakota's House endorsed a measure that would prevent filling any vacant state government jobs until the end of April. State officials say there are now more than 600 state openings.

VA: School suspension caps move forward in Virginia Legislature

One proposal moving through the Virginia Legislature would forbid suspensions longer than five school days for children from pre-K to third grade, except in extreme cases. Another proposal generally capping long-term suspensions at 45 days at any grade level also cleared committee.

PA: Facing a budget crunch, Pennsylvania governor pays consultants to help find savings

Facing a multibillion-dollar deficit in the state budget, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf quietly turned to a private consulting firm for advice. Under the six-week, $1.8 million contract, McKinsey & Co. is expected to identify how Pennsylvania can save money, and possible new sources of revenue.

AK: Alaska collects over $145,000 in marijuana taxes for December, delivered to a drop box

Alaska expects to collect $5 million in tax revenue from the state’s growing marijuana businesses between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. But thanks to federal restrictions on marijuana-related banking, marijuana cultivators can’t pay taxes electronically — they must pay in check or in cash, delivered to a drop box in Anchorage.

Population Declines Drug Coverage