Quick Hits in State News: Wise Oklahomans, A Smart Texas Judge, and More


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  • Rhode Island lawmakers are considering legislation that would help the state better evaluate the nearly $1.6 billion in special tax breaks it hands out every year.  The way the bill couples evaluations of the tax expenditures and sunsets (i.e. expiration dates on tax breaks) is closely in line with what commissions in Massachusetts and Oklahoma have recently proposed.  Testimony from the Economic Progress Institute in support of the bill can be found here.
  • Here’s a refreshing piece of news: A Texas judge has ruled that oil and gas companies can’t benefit from a special state sales tax break on equipment designed to aid manufacturers.  Southwest Royalties Inc. apparently tried to argue that removing oil from the ground should count as “manufacturing.”
  • Good news in the Sooner State – new polling shows that Oklahomans oppose a regressive cut in the income tax rate, paired with tax credit reductions, by a 42-35 percent margin.  If education cuts are used to pay for the tax cut, the margin of opposition grows to a whopping 81-16 percent.  Oklahoma lawmakers are seriously considering a variety of income tax proposals that would likely require cuts in both tax credits and education spending, so let’s hope that they stop to listen to their constituents first.
  • The details of the coming Maryland tax package that we mentioned earlier this week are beginning to take shape.  The Washington Times reports that income taxes will likely be raised on families earning over $100,000 per year, in a manner very similar to what lawmakers almost enacted at the end of the regular session. More as it happens.
  • Last Friday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a tax plan passed by the legislature which would have frozen statewide business property taxes permanently– and cost the state over $2 billion. He called the bill “fiscally irresponsible.” Thursday the Minnesota legislature gave approval to a smaller tax package that, among other things, only froze business property taxes for a single year.  Though the scaled down version is now on its way to the Governor's desk, the  Minnesota Budget Project  writes that the fate of this bill is up in the air:  “The bill may not receive Governor Dayton’s signature, as it still draws upon the state’s budget reserve and adds to future deficits, two things that he has opposed throughout the legislative session.”

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