Budget and Tax
Research & Commentary: The Growing Illinois Municipal Pensions Problem
On May 12 and 13, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Chicago credit ratings for the seventh time in two years. Its credit rating is now above only Detroit’s. Moody’s rationale for the downgrade focused on the city’s high unfunded pension liabilities. In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans argues lawmakers should enroll all newly hired public-sector workers in defined-contribution pension plans and give current workers the option of transferring into such plans. Under these plans, workers own their pensions and can change employers without losing their accrued benefits. Defined-contribution plans prevent the burden on taxpayers from automatically rising in future years. Read more
Energy and Environment
Solar Net Metering Subsidies Are Too Costly for Louisiana
Louisiana is currently giving the solar power industry a special competitive advantage via “net metering” subsidies. Net metering is an intentionally vague term used by the solar power industry to describe laws that require non-solar power customers to purchase electricity from small-scale power equipment at above-market prices, even when non-solar power customers have no need for the solar electricity. James Taylor, a Heartland senior fellow and vice president for external relations, argues Louisiana should not give favorable treatment to the solar power industry, stating, “the motivations behind Louisiana’s net metering program and other solar power subsidies may have been noble, but the programs have proven to be a costly failure. It is time for Louisiana policymakers to relegate net metering to the state’s past.” Read more
Florida School Boards Association Abandons Lawsuit against Tax Credit Scholarship Program
The Florida School Boards Association has decided not to appeal a ruling against the group’s challenge to Florida’s tax credit scholarship program for low-income youths. Heartland Research Fellow Heather Kays, managing editor of School Reform News, notes, “The FSBA board of directors voted to abandon the lawsuit, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times.” Kays continues, “FSBA made this decision after Leon County Judge George Reynolds III threw out the case, saying FSBA and the other plaintiffs didn’t have standing to bring the lawsuit, according to the report.” Read more
Research & Commentary: Pennsylvania Should Not Backslide on Certificate of Need
Pennsylvania is one of 14 states that do not require hospitals to acquire a certificate of need (CON) to introduce new medical services or facilities. Pennsylvania’s CON statute expired in 1996, but legislators are now discussing whether to reestablish the program. No other state without a certificate of need law is currently considering a bill to impose such regulation, and at least a half-dozen states are considering rolling back parts or all of their CON laws, to reduce health care costs and increase competition.
In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans argues CON laws are burdensome regulations that increase the cost of health care while limiting access and benefitting those with political connections. Pennsylvania lawmakers should not revive a failed policy the state wisely abandoned decades ago. Read more
An Open Letter to the House of Representatives: Oppose the Remote Transactions Parity Act!
In this letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, The Heartland Institute and other free-market and limited-government organizations examine the new Internet taxation bill, the Remote Transactions Parity Act, and argue against its passage. “In seeking to address the failures of the ‘use tax’ systems employed by states, the RTPA ends up blessing a massive expansion in state tax-collection authority and dismantling a vital taxpayer protection upon which virtually all tax systems are based. This will harm online sales, which – despite their dramatic expansion – still only account for roughly $0.07 of every $1 in retail spending. Conservatives in Congress should oppose this unwise legislation and instead work to preserve geographical limits to tax authority and to encourage tax competition.” Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis
The Cato Institute recently released Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis, a book by Cato scholar Michael D. Tanner that explores the growing national debt and its dire implications for America’s future. The book explains why a looming financial meltdown may be far worse than anyone expects. Read more