2013 September Budget & Tax News

Issue Date: 
September, 2013
Newspaper PDF: 

The September issue of Budget & Tax News reports on efforts to rein in crony capitalism in the Community Development Block Grants program in St. Louis. Federal government funds for blight-reducing efforts are divvied up by ward in St. Louis, giving individual alderman great power in determining what projects get funded. Even HUD officials say that opens the program to corruption, nepotism, and other forms of political favoritism.

Also in this issue:

  • In the same week the City of Detroit made national headlines by filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in national history, the City of Chicago made smaller headlines when Moody’s Investors Service announced it had hit the city with a nearly unprecedented triple-downgrade of its credit rating on general obligation bonds.
  • Unrestrained spending--on gifts for tenants, on memorabilia, on failed real estate deals, on its own salaries, and especially on contracts with two firms connected to two former board members--has dissipated the Harris County (Texas) Housing Authority’s fund balances from $37.9 million to $1.6 million. The spending included more than $100,000 on a bronze statue of a winged angel designed by the authority’s CEO at the time.
  • Cigarette tax revenue in Illinois is falling far short of the amount projected last year, state officials say. In May 2012, state legislators approved a $1-per-pack increase in the state’s cigarette tax, nearly doubling it to $1.98 per pack. The tax delivered only $212 million of the expected $350 million for the fiscal year ended June 30.
  • In 2009, a year after signing the nation’s most lucrative film incentive program, then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) of Michigan touted the jobs it would create. Now a Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows the incentive failed in at least one key aspect of the film industry: post-production work. In the years since Granholm signed the bill allowing the state to offer up to 42 percent reimbursement on money spent by movie producers in Michigan, just seven post-production jobs have been added.
  • Parents of homeschooled children will pay less in property taxes if a novel bill passes in Ohio. Senate Bill 127, which would become effective in 2014, would give homeschoolers a tax credit equal to the proportion of property taxes on their home that fund their local school district.

Newspaper Articles in this Issue