Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: West Virginia Sin Taxes and Vaping
West Virginia has become increasingly reliant on revenues from sin taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and gaming, in order to close budget gaps. Governing magazine recently found that Delaware, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia relied the most heavily on sin tax revenues as a percentage of total state tax revenues. In response to this problem, the West Virginia Legislature is now discussing changes to the state’s tobacco taxes.
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans argues sin taxes distort markets, reduce economic competitiveness, and encourage unsustainable increases in government spending while placing an excessive burden on lower-income taxpayers. Glans advises West Virginia legislators to avoid the temptation of sin taxes and to instead focus on tax reforms that lower rates, put dollars back in the pockets of taxpayers, and encourage government efficiency by creating reasonable limits on spending. Read more
Work on Fixing What Washington Broke Begins At Home
Jesse Hathaway, managing editor of Budget & Tax News, writes in Town Hall the growing size of direct liabilities owed by the federal government continues to soar, and the inability of Congress to rein in its irresponsible spending needs to be addressed before another financial crisis emerges. Hathaway argues the Article V mechanism for passing a balanced budget amendment may be the tool state legislators need to enact positive reforms. Read more
Lies, Damned Lies, and Common Core
Only Common Core supporters are surprised that one of the central promises they made isn’t coming true: The New York Times reports states are labeling the same test scores in wildly varying ways despite using the same Common Core tests. In other words, what counts as proficient in Ohio still doesn’t count as proficient in Massachusetts, despite federal officials having coerced both into using the same tests using, in part, the promise of a universal standard. Joy Pullmann, a research fellow at The Heartland Institute, explains how this is not the only Common Core problem not panning out. Read more
Energy & Environment
States, Localities Handling Road Issues Related to Frac Sand Mining
H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News, summarizes a new Heartland Institute study that finds states and localities in the Upper Midwest are effectively dealing with cases of excess road deterioration from increased heavy truck traffic related to frac sand mining. The study found local authorities in areas of unusually high traffic from frac sand mining have negotiated road upkeep and maintenance agreements (RUMA) with mine operators. RUMAs have resulted in industrial sand operators spending millions of dollars upgrading and maintaining local and county roadways to meet their needs for transporting industrial sand while providing safe and efficient transportation for other road users. You can find the full studyhere.
Heartland Daily Podcast – Dr. Merrill Matthews: Hillary Clinton’s Plan Makes Prescription Drugs More Expensive
In this edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast, Dr. Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, speaks with Kenneth Artz, former managing editor ofHealth Care News, about Hillary Clinton’s plan to make prescription drugs even more expensive. Clinton announced in September her plan to introduce price controls on prescription drugs, which immediately led to the biotechnology and health care sectors tanking, as investors fled those industries, taking billions of dollars of capital with them. Matthews said, “[B]oth these prescriptions are the wrong tonic for curing what’s wrong with the American health care system.” Read more
From Our Free Market Friends
High Stakes Rules for Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts
The Goldwater Institute released a new opinion article, titled “High Stakes Rules for Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts,” discussing important issues related to Nevada’s new education savings account program. “Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a law that allows every public school child in the state to apply for an education savings account which parents could use to pay for services like those Fit Learning offers,” wrote Jonathan Butcher, education director of the Goldwater Institute. “With an account, the state will deposit approximately $5,000 (more for children from low-income families) in a private bank account that parents can use to buy educational products and services for their children. Parents can pay for online classes and private school tuition, or save for college, along with purchasing tutoring services, among other potential uses.” Read more