Budget and Tax
Research & Commentary: Alabama Flat Tax Proposal
Alabama legislators have considered several major tax proposals during the current legislative session, including Gov. Robert Bentley’s (R) $541 million tax hike package. Bentley’s plan relies on sin taxes and tourism taxes, which distort markets, decrease economic competitiveness, and encourage unsustainable increases in government spending while placing an unnecessary burden on lower-income taxpayers. The newest proposal, introduced by state Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) takes another approach, aiming to simplify the tax code by introducing a flat tax.
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans argues instead of creating and increasing discriminatory taxes like those in Bentley’s proposal, states should implement tax reform that lowers rates, puts dollars back into the pockets of taxpayers, and tightens budgets by creating new, reasonable limits on spending. Hightower’s flat tax lowers rates and simplifies the tax code for Alabama taxpayers and represents an important step in the right direction for tax reform in the state.Read more
Energy and Environment
West Virginia Requires Legislative Approval for State Power Plant Regulations
Following Pennsylvania’s lead, West Virginia Gov. Earl Tomblin (D) signed into law a bill requiring the state legislature to approve any state-developed carbon-dioxide reduction plan before it is submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency following the proposed Clean Power Plan rule. In thisHeartlander article, Research Fellow Sterling Burnett discusses the law, noting, “the fact that steep emissions cuts could be enacted without congressional approval is proving controversial on both sides of the aisle.” Read more
Montana Governor Fights School Choice
Gov. Steve Bullock (D) of Montana has once again vetoed a bill promoting a school choice program for students with special needs. Earlier in the month, he declined to sign a bill that would have created a tax credit scholarship program. That measure passed without his signature. The governor claims the education savings accounts program would allow too many students to qualify. Heartland Institute Research Fellow Heather Kays finds test scores in the state are below average and the majority of constituents support programs such as school vouchers and scholarship programs for children with special needs and from low-income homes. Bullock’s stance against school choice is hurting the state and its children. Read more
Research & Commentary: Alaska Medicaid Expansion Update
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) made Medicaid expansion a central issue even though the state legislature has opposed expanding Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many policy analysts contend expansion would be expensive and would not provide better or more affordable health care for Alaskans.
In this Research & Commentary, Heartland Institute Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans contends that, contrary to expansion supporters’ depiction of new federal funds as “free money,” Medicaid expansion is expensive, creating new costs the federal government may not always cover and leaving state taxpayers on the hook for new liabilities. He writes, “Without significant reform, Medicaid will remain fiscally unsustainable. Alaska should avoid expanding a flawed model that is costly, delivers subpar health care, and shifts more power to the federal government.” Read more
Why Court Very Likely Will Stay FCC’s Title II Reclassification
In this Somewhat Reasonable article, Scott Cleland argues that based on the latest best arguments this week from the Federal Communications Commission and broadband petitioners, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is likely to partially stay the FCC Open Internet Order’s reclassification of broadband as a Title II service and imposition of a new Internet conduct standard. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
Thomas Jefferson Institute Debate on Climate Change
The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy is sponsoring a series of hour-long television debates on WCVE. Last week, the first debate addressed “Living with Climate Change.” Dr. David Schnare, director of the institute’s Center for Energy and Environmental Stewardship and director of the Energy & Environment Law Institute, debated Glen Besa, director of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club. View the debate here.