New Year’s Gas Tax Changes: Seven Up, Two Down

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By all indications, 2017 is shaping up to be a major year for state gas tax reform. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has already proposed tripling his state’s gas tax. Task forces in Indiana and Louisiana have laid the groundwork for significant gas tax reforms in those states. And Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam seems to be on the verge of releasing a gas tax proposal as well. Altogether, it appears that more than a dozen states will seriously debate gas tax changes next year.

But 2017 will also usher in a few gas tax changes before state legislative sessions even begin. Specifically, seven states will be raising gasoline tax rates while two states will be cutting them. Three of the increases (in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Nebraska) are the result of legislation enacted by lawmakers during the last few years. The other four increases, and both of the rate cuts, are automatic adjustments based on various formulas those states use in setting their gas tax rates.

Here are the details on the changes taking place in each state:

Pennsylvania is raising its gasoline tax by 7.9 cents per gallon and its diesel tax by 10.7 cents. These are the final increases associated with legislation enacted by lawmakers in 2013, though further increases could be triggered in the years ahead if gas prices rise.

Michigan is raising its gasoline tax by 7.3 cents per gallon. The state’s diesel tax will rise by 11.3 cents to bring the two tax rates into alignment with each other. These changes are the result of legislation enacted in 2015. No further changes are expected until 2022, when the state’s gas tax rate will begin rising annually to keep pace with inflation.

Nebraska is raising its gasoline and diesel tax rates by 1.5 cents per gallon as part of a four-part, six-cent increase enacted in 2015.

Georgia’s gasoline tax will rise by 0.3 cents, and its diesel tax will rise by 0.4 cents, under a new formula linking the state’s fuel tax rates to growth in inflation and vehicle fuel efficiency.

North Carolina’s gas and diesel tax rates will rise by 0.3 cents under a new formula linking the state’s fuel tax rates to growth in population and energy prices.

Indiana’s gasoline tax rate will rise by 0.2 cents as it varies each month alongside the price of gasoline.

Florida will implement 0.1 cent gas and diesel tax rate increases because its fuel tax rates are tied to inflation.

New York will cut its gas and diesel tax rates by 0.8 cents per gallon as part of an annual adjustment based on the price of gas.

West Virginia, much like New York, will cut its gas and diesel tax rates by 1.0 cents per gallon as part of an annual adjustment based on the price of gas.

New Jersey’s diesel tax rate will rise by 15.9 cents on January 1 due to legislation enacted last year. The state will not change its gasoline tax rate on January 1, though it did implement a 22.6 cent increase in that tax on November 1, 2016.

See chart of gasoline tax rate changes 

See chart of diesel tax rate changes

Tax Justice Digest: State Tax Policy Plans for 2017

Thank you for reading the Tax Justice Blog and Tax Justice Digest. We’re going on hiatus until Jan. 3, 2017, to recharge our brains and get into the holiday spirit with bad fruitcake and eggnog. Well, maybe not the latter two. But we will be revving up our tax analysis chops because next year we will head into one of the most significant federal tax battles in the last generation.

In the meantime, here’s our last Tax Justice Digest for 2016. 

But first, please consider supporting our work with a donation to ITEP this year.  It is more critical than ever for our research to inform tax policy debates in Washington, DC and in statehouses across the country next year.

Keep an Eye on State Estate Taxes in 2017
We know that Congress and the incoming Trump Administration have set their sights on eliminating the federal estate tax. A new ITEP research brief explains the role of state estate taxes in the 18 states that levy the tax, and a blog by ITEP policy analyst Dylan Grundman argues that states have a unique opportunity with the estate tax to ensure their tax systems are more progressive.

Governors’ Plans for State Taxes in 2017/2018
In advance of the new year, several governors have released tax and budget proposals for their states’ next two fiscal years. While these proposals are not necessarily indicative of nationwide trends we expect to see in 2017, some help to set a good example of progressive solutions to raising revenue and improving tax fairness. Read ITEP’s State Policy Fellow Misha Hill’s summary here.

ITEP Holiday Entertainment Guide
Oddly enough, we tax policy wonks have interests outside of tax policy, and in the spirit of the giving season, we’d like to share some of the podcasts, films and books we’ve enjoyed this year with you. If you have selections for us, please tweet at us @iteptweets! 

The State Rundown
This week’s rundown looks at how several states are taking the taxation of online sales into their own hands; new taxes in Philadelphia and the District of Columbia, and state budget woes in Oklahoma, Alaska, and Virginia. Read more

Governors’ Plans for State Taxes in 2017/2018

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In advance of the new year, several governors have released tax and budget proposals for their states’ next two fiscal years. Below, proposals from Montana, Washington, Alaska, Arkansas, and Oklahoma are outlined. While these proposals are not necessarily indicative of nationwide trends we expect to see in 2017, some help to set a good example of progressive solutions to raising revenue and improving tax fairness.


Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) released a budget proposal that aims to address a revenue gap while improving tax fairness. As highlighted by the Montana Budget & Policy Center, the governor’s budget would restore a higher tax bracket on top earners (on incomes over $500,000) and limit the preferential treatment of income earned from wealth rather than work by limiting the lower tax rate applied to capital gains income to the first $1 million of income. And it would increase parity for the treatment of income by capping the deduction for federal income tax paid for income from estates and trusts like it currently does for other types of income. Perhaps most notably, Gov. Bullock’s proposal also called for the creation of a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Gov. Bullock’s plan is not all rosy. The budget includes across-the-board cuts to services and by no means flips Montana’s overall tax structure from regressive to progressive. But it is an example of how states can remedy revenue shortfalls without placing all the responsibility on low-income families.


In Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) proposed a host of revenue raising measures, largely to increase state funding for K-12 education. The state is under a court order to increase contributions to teachers’ salaries. The governor’s proposal would raise revenues beyond the court’s requirements by establishing a capital gains and carbon tax, increasing the business tax on services provided by some professionals, and eliminating several tax exemptions.

It would establish a 7.9 percent tax on some capital gains earnings, like stocks and bonds. (Homes, farms, retirement accounts, and forestry would be exempt from the new tax.) About half of the revenue from a new carbon tax of $25 per metric ton of pollution would go to K-12 education. Inslee’s proposal restores a decades-old rate cut to the business and occupation tax on professional and personal services. It would also expand the definition of business and occupation to capture revenue from certain out of state retailers that currently avoid the tax. Eliminating several state tax breaks, such as a sales tax exemption for nonresidents, would also generate significant revenue for the state. And because of the increase in state contributions to school funding, the local tax levy in most of the state’s school districts would be lowered.

As the Washington State Budget & Policy Center noted, the proposal would raise needed revenue in a forward thinking and equitable manner, but there is still more that needs to be done to create a more equitable and adequate tax system overall.


The stated goal of the budget proposal from Gov. Bill Walker (I) is to continue cutting the size of government, restructure the state’s Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve (Permanent Fund) to make it more sustainable and provide funding for services, and generate new revenue through broad-based taxes. To that aim, the governor’s proposal re-introduced a version of a bill that passed the Senate earlier this year to restructure the state’s Permanent Fund. It would establish a formula to draw from the fund to provide funding for government services. The proposal also includes an increase to the gas tax to cover transportation expenses. Alaska currently has the lowest gas tax in the country (8 cents per gallon) so the proposed threefold increase would keep the state under the national average. The proposal did not give specific guidance on what broad-based taxes the governor hopes to utilize for new revenue. Walker departed from his strategy in the last budget of proposing to reinstate an income tax for the first time in 35 years and instead left a $890 million revenue gap that he hopes will be addressed with the help of the legislature.


Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) called for a $50 million decrease in revenue from income tax cuts. This proposal follows the previous budget which included a $100 million income tax cut which the administration claims the state budget fully absorbed. (The governor has pushed back against calls from legislators for even more aggressive income tax cuts unless they are paid for by reductions in exemptions and loopholes.) While being billed as a tax cut for families earning less than $21,000 per year, an ITEP analysis shows that the proposal would only give a cut to 45 percent of taxpayers in the bottom two quintiles, with 75 percent of the tax cut going to taxpayers in the top 60 percent. To provide tax relief for low-income families, the governor would be better off proposing a targeted tax cut like a state EITC.

The governor’s budget proposal has been appropriately praised for its increased funding for critical services, such as the state’s foster care and mental health services, but it missed an opportunity to use sensible tax reform as a source for the needed revenue. Arkansas’s tax structure already suffers from a fundamental mismatch – it’s a low-tax state that’s high-tax for many low-income families – and further cutting the state income tax will not help.


Oklahoma is expected to face a shortfall of more than $800 million. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has not released a formal budget, but she has hinted at a few proposals. The first is wishful thinking that the price of oil and gas will rebound by February so the state can cash in on its oil and natural gas production tax. Another includes ideas to generate new revenue – including a cigarette tax, expanding the sales tax to services, and eliminating $8 billion in sales tax exemptions. Since Oklahoma has not met revenue projections it will not reduce its top income tax rate – yet another example contrary to the idea that tax cuts always increase revenue.

A Strong Case for State Estate Taxes

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Keep an eye on state estate and inheritance tax debates in 2017. Our newly updated policy brief explains the mechanics, history, and current status of state estate and inheritance taxes, and how states can adapt or improve them.

Debates over estate and inheritance taxes in the states will be important barometers of at least three major questions:

Are state legislators committed to promoting equality of opportunity? Estate and inheritance taxes are two of the most progressive revenue options available to states, applying only to the very wealthiest estates while protecting family farms and small businesses. As such, they are an important tool for states that wish to equalize opportunities and build broad prosperity for all their residents. Unfortunately, the most recent state developments have worked in the opposite direction. New Jersey legislators, for example, voted just this year to phase out their estate tax entirely by 2018 as part of a regressive tax package skewed to the benefit of wealthy families.

Will states step up to the challenge of taking on more responsibility in an era of likely federal retrenchment, or allow the whims of Congress to determine their fates? State and federal estate tax laws worked in harmony for about 75 years, as most states designed their estate taxes to match a federal credit so that the revenue from breaking up the country’s largest fortunes was shared between them. When federal lawmakers phased out that credit between 2001 and 2005, however, states had to decide whether they wanted to continue playing a part in that effort. Most states declined to act, resulting in only 18 states currently having estate or inheritance taxes, many of which are still tied to federal statute in some way. If Congress moves to further weaken or repeal the federal estate tax, the responsibility will fall even more on states. With possible major federal budget cuts also likely harming states, estate tax fights could set the tone for whether states will passively accept such harmful federal changes or make an effort to take matters into their own hands.

Will our communities be strengthened by increased investments in education, health care, and public safety made possible through this progressive revenue source, or weakened by single-minded devotion to tax cuts that undermine those investments? States play a crucial role in paying for the education, health care, public safety, and infrastructure that build strong communities and economies. Estate and inheritance taxes are rarely major portions of state budgets, but nonetheless represent significant revenue streams that promote these values. States that wish to protect and strengthen their communities and economies will have the opportunity to show it as these estate and inheritance tax debates proceed.

ITEP Staff Holiday Entertainment Selections 2016

Whether you’re looking for connection with loved ones over the winter holidays, escapism during trying times, or gift ideas for policy wonks and others in your life, the ITEP list has something for you! Please see below for what our staff members are into this year:

Read Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
Who isn’t in the mood for some behavioral economics this holiday season? This year I’m revisiting Ariely’s work that in an entertaining, accessible manner explores human motivation–which, as he finds, is often irrational. – Aidan Russell Davis

Watch The West Wing and Listen to The West Wing Weekly Podcast
For those not keen on the incoming administration, watching The West Wing may provide a needed escape into a world of a more humorous and progressive presidential administration. If you want to dig deeper into the show, there is a new weekly podcast that provides thoughtful commentary on each episode and includes guest appearances by people who worked on the show and in politics. You might also find it interesting to skip to Season 2 Episode 20 in the TV show, where the West Wing staff run into trouble with the organization Americans for Tax Justice, a group inspired by a certain real life tax advocacy group you may be familiar with. – Richard Phillips

Watch 13TH
If you haven’t watched it already, take an hour and a half over your winter break to watch Ava Duvernay’s 13TH (a reference to the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed slavery), a documentary film that explores mass incarceration in the United States, and its disproportionate and pernicious effect on the African American community. The film traces how the U.S. prison population exploded over the last century while simultaneously showing how federal policy funneled billions of dollars to the prison industrial complex, creating financial incentive for the U.S. to have the world’s largest prison population. For-profit prisons continue to find ways to profit from the penal system, including GPS home-based incarceration and detention centers (a euphemism for prisons) for undocumented immigrants. 13TH is available to stream on Netflix. – Jenice R. Robinson 

Listen to the 99% Invisible Podcast with Roman Mars
No matter your interests, you should be able to find at least a few episodes of this podcast about “all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about” that you’d enjoy. One of my favorites is titled U.T.B.A.P.H. – which is all about new uses for buildings that Used To Be a Pizza Hut. Other memorable episodes explore topics such as the invention of elevators, the I Heart NY trademark, and the art of naming. But I’ve always been particularly impressed by how the podcast manages to keep my attention even when exploring topics that I never thought I was interested in, like barcodes – Carl Davis

Listen to the Invisibilia Podcast with Lulu Miller, Hanna Rosin, and Alix Spiegel
Carl and I are apparently on parallel podcast wavelengths these days! Fans of accessible and fascinating science stories like those in Radiolab will enjoy NPR’s podcast Invisibilia if they’re not already doing so. It focuses on “the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions” – and is delightfully hosted by three women (Lulu Miller, Hanna Rosin, and Alix Spiegel), who even include a dance party at the end of many episodes. Season 1 was excellent and after a long break, Season 2 was even better this year. – Dylan Grundman

Gather Wisdom from Elder Social Justice Advocates at The Veterans of Hope Project
Vincent Harding was a scholar, historian, and activist working to build an America that lived up to its own vision of itself. Among his work, he cofounded The Veterans for Hope Project — a collection of interviews with educators, religious leaders, community activists, and artists who have worked for decades to advance freedom, peace, and human rights in the U.S. and abroad. Their perspectives and wisdom can be very grounding at a time of political uncertainty.  – Lisa Christensen Gee

Read Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond, edited by Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall
Engage in some productive escapism with this collection of science fiction stories featuring minority authors, characters, and issues. Short science fiction is a genre I hadn’t explored before and turned out to be just the ticket for these times. These stories challenge the reader to think flexibly in order to adjust to a wildly different setting and context for each story, a helpful exercise for those of us feeling disoriented in these trying times. With entries by Junot Diaz and many others, and a wide range from pulpy action stories to intellectual thought experiments, some of these stories are sure to stick with you well after reading. – Dylan Grundman

Listen to A Tribe Called Quest’s new album, We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
Somehow simultaneously nostalgic and prescient, Tribe’s first (and last) new album in 18 years is excellent and timely. – Dylan Grundman

Listen to The Uncertain Hour, podcast from the producers of NPRs Marketplace
This six episode docupod series (one story told over many episodes, think Serial) is produced by the folks at Marketplace’s Wealth and Poverty Desk. Reporter Krissy Clark takes an in-depth look at “welfare as we don’t know it.” In post-fact America, a podcast that is driven by the idea that we know the least about the things we feel most strongly about seems especially appropriate. Listen in order. – Misha Hill

Listen to 2 Dope Queens, podcast from comediennes Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams
If you want to escape from reality, but not go too far, this stand-up style podcast is for you. Phoebe and Jessica invite a rotating cast of diverse comics to perform in front of a live audience. They talk about everything from the obsession with dad bod to frustration with white people asking to touch their hair. While the range and style of comedy is broad, most of the comics manage to be socially conscious, politically aware, body positive, gender inclusive, and hilarious. But it’s definitely not safe for kids. It’s heavy on adult content and language. – Misha Hill

Listen to the Death, Sex and Money Podcast with Anna Sale
This podcast deals with “the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.” You never know what to expect from week to week topic-wise, but you can always count on a thought provoking conversation that will leave you with fodder for your next dinner party conversation. It also fosters an unexpected sense of community via listener generated lists such as a google doc with favorite short stories and an “Anthems of Change” playlist and through encouraging listener input on topics and feedback on shows. – Meg Wiehe

Happy Holidays! If you enjoy any of our selections let us know! Write to or find us on twitter at @iteptweets

State Rundown 12/21: Last Minute (Sales tax free) Shopping Online May Be Coming to an End and Other News From Around the States

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This week we are bringing you good cheer about several states taking the taxation of online sales into their own hands, budget tidings from Oklahoma, Alaska, and Virginia, and the gift of new taxes in Philadelphia and DC.

Enjoy the Rundown? Please consider supporting ITEP’s work with a donation.

– Meg Wiehe, ITEP State Policy Director, @megwiehe

  • States have long been waiting for Congress to act on the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow them to collect sales taxes that are already legally due on online purchases from multi-state retailers such as With no progress on that front, states such as Colorado have attempted to take action by requiring retailers to collect and remit – or at least report to the consumer – taxes due. These state-based efforts received a boost recently when the U.S. Supreme Court opted not to hear a challenge to Colorado’s law. The momentum may continue to grow. A rule in Tennessee is moving closer to implementation; Virginia‘s Gov. McAuliffe is pushing for such a measure to help plug that state’s revenue shortfall, and Alabama is looking to mimick the Colorado approach. Other states, including Nebraska and South Dakota, may follow suit as revenue experts identify uncollected online sales taxes as a contributing factor to those state’s revenue woes as well.
  • Oklahoma‘s state finance secretary announced that the state did not experience enough revenue growth to trigger another income tax rate cut (this time from 5 to 4.85 percent). The possibility of triggering yet another rate cut, despite a projected budget gap exceeding half a billion dollars, rightly worried many Oklahomans.

  • Alaska Gov. Bill Walker released his FY 2018 budget without any broad-based revenue options. Rather, it includes a gas tax increase, suggested restructuring of the state’s Permanent Fund, and an $890 million revenue gap. Walker anticipates working with the legislature to fill the remaining revenue shortfall.

  • Virginia Gov. McAuliffe’s budget amendments use a variety of means to start addressing the state’s $1.5 billion shortfall but rely heavily on the state’s rainy day fund, which could put the state in a worse bind when the next recession hits.

  • Soda purchasers in Philadelphia, Penn., will ring in the New Year with a new tax. A city judge dismissed the beverage industry’s attempt to block the city’s planned tax on sugary and sweetened beverages, despite claims that the tax is unconstitutional on the grounds of duplicate taxation.

  • An audit of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) projects in Nebraska is strengthening calls for reform of how localities are using the tax break, which is intended to spur local economic development but is carried out with “remarkably little monitoring and oversight” and can push property taxes upward.

  • The push continues, largely from conservation groups, to raise Iowa‘s state sales tax 3/8ths of a cent to support water quality improvements.

  • One legislator in Tennessee is advocating for diverting sales tax revenue to local governments to help them deal with budget woes. The state could consider instead cancelling its decision from earlier this year to phase out the Hall Tax on dividend and interest income for high-income Tennesseans, which is shared with local governments and is one of the few progressive pieces of the state’s tax code.

  • The District of Columbia City Council has passed a paid family and medical leave policy that allows all workers in the district access to time off for illness, child-bearing, and assistance with family medical issues. The system will be funded much like unemployment insurance, via a payroll tax that goes into a district-wide pool.

What We’re Reading…

  • CBPP’s new report, How State Tax Policies Can Stop Increasing Inequality and Start Reducing It, explains how income disparity has reduced opportunity and weakened the overall economy, and the steps policymakers can take to reverse that trend.

  • In a new report the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center proposes a “Fair Share Tax Plan” that explores ways in which the state can raise revenue while sparing most Pennsylvanians.

If you like what you are seeing in the Rundown (or even if you don’t) please send any feedback or tips for future posts to Meg Wiehe at Click here to sign up to receive the Rundown via email.

Tax Justice Digest: Kansas Rising, Estate Tax Falling

In the Tax Justice Digest we recap the latest reports, blog posts, and analyses from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). Here’s a rundown of what we’ve been working on lately. 

But first, please consider supporting our work with a donation to ITEP this year.  It is more critical than ever for our research to inform tax policy debates in Washington, DC and in statehouses across the country next year.

Defending the Estate Tax
Both President-elect Trump and congressional Republicans have proposed major tax cut plans, and one of the many areas where the two plans agree is repealing the estate tax. Such legislation would widen wealth inequality and persistent deficits. Read ITEP’s new reportThe Federal Estate Tax: A Critical and Highly Progressive Revenue Source to understand the importance of the estate tax or read our summary blog post if you are short on time.

ICYMI: 3 Lessons about Tax Policy from the Star Wars Universe
Even in the universe of Jedi, Death Stars and Ewoks, tax policy plays a surprisingly important role in driving the events of the day. In anticipation of the release of the newest Star Wars movie, we just wanted to share once again some of the little-known tax policy lessons from the Star Wars universe. Read the full blog post.


Rise Up Kansas Coalition Calls for Comprehensive Tax Policy Reform
The “Rise Up Kansas” coalition includes advocacy organizations representing educators, transportation contractors, state employees, early childhood providers, and tax policy experts who want to see an end to the state’s budget crises and tax policies that benefit the few at the expense of critical public investments. To read more on the coalition efforts check out ITEP’s Lisa Christensen Gee’s blog post.

State Rundown: An Upheld “Amazon tax” Law and an Emphasis on Revenue
This week we are bringing you news about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Colorado’s “Amazon tax” law, another look at a vehicle miles traveled tax in Massachusetts, possible tax reform proposals in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and emphasis on the need for tax revenue in Arizona, Ohio, and Wyoming. Read the full Rundown.

If you have any feedback on the Digest or tax stories you’re watching that we should check out too please email me

Sign up to receive the Tax Justice Digest

For frequent updates find us on Twitter (ITEP), Facebook (ITEP), and at the Tax Justice blog.

State Rundown 12/15: An Upheld “Amazon tax” Law and an Emphasis on Revenue

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This week we are bringing you news about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Colorado‘s “Amazon tax” law, another look at a VMT tax in Massachusetts, possible tax reform proposals in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and emphasis on the need for tax revenue in Arizona, Ohio, and Wyoming.

If you appreciate the news we bring you each week, please consider a year-end donation to ITEP.

— Meg Wiehe, ITEP State Policy Director, @megwiehe 

  • Colorado‘s “Amazon tax,” which requires out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes for internet purchases or complete more paperwork and remind purchasers that they owe taxes, stands after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up a case challenging the law. Don’t be surprised if other states begin to follow suit.

  • Despite setbacks, a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax remains on the table in Massachusetts as a potential long-run funding source for the state.

  • New Hampshire‘s upcoming legislative session will likely see additional business tax cuts and an income tax proposal coupled with property tax elimination and business tax changes.

  • Some think that property tax reform will be readdressed in Pennsylvania this session. A collection of activist groups are pushing to increase sales and income taxes while completely eliminating the state’s property tax.

  • In Arizona, town hall participants agreed that the bias in favor of tax cuts has gone too far, so much so that it has hurt the state’s economic future. They also concurred that the state could do a better job investing in Arizonans.

  • Editorial boards point to the value of tax revenue: Ohio Beacon Journal’s editorial board connects the dots between the state’s financial woes and history of excessive tax cuts. And Wyoming‘s Casper Star Tribune encourages lawmakers to revisit the recommendations for revenue raising and structural tax reform.

What We’re Reading…

  • A recent report from NASBO shows that half of the states have experienced revenue shortfalls in the first months of this fiscal year, shaking up plans for upcoming legislative sessions and putting increased pressure on states that have been struggling with budget deficits for some time.

  • With illustrations from Kansas, Texas, and California, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains why the theory of low taxes, low regulations, and low wages doesn’t work.
  • Oklahoma Policy Institute’s David Blatt warns that the Legislature may be setting themselves up for another ill-timed income tax cut.

  • A new report by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy examines the state’s chronic poverty and provides recommendations to address it. 

If you like what you are seeing in the Rundown (or even if you don’t) please send any feedback or tips for future posts to Meg Wiehe at Click here to sign up to receive the Rundown via email.

And, don’t forget your favorite tax wonks at ITEP in your year-end giving.  Consider supporting our work with a donation  this year.


Rise Up Kansas Coalition Calls for Comprehensive Tax Policy Reform

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A statewide coalition is calling for the end of the Brownback tax experiment in Kansas with the release of its 2017 comprehensive plan for tax reform.


The “Rise Up Kansas” coalition includes advocacy organizations representing educators, transportation contractors, state employees, early childhood providers, and tax policy experts who want to see an end to the state’s budget crises and tax policies that benefit the few at the expense of critical public investments.


The coalition proposes the following: 


• End the “March to Zero,” stopping the eventual elimination of the individual income tax and preventing future budget crises.


• Re-instate the top income bracket of 6.45% for single filers earning $40,000 a year or more ($80,000 for married couples), turning the tax code “right side up” so everyone chips in.


• Close the “LLC loophole,” cleaning up the tax code and ensuring it’s not benefiting a select number of Kansans at the expense of the common good by ending the ability for taxpayers to shield business pass thru income from taxation.


• Hold the Kansas Highway Fund harmless for the first time since Gov. Sam Brownback took office by temporarily diverting the 4/10 of a cent sales tax currently dedicated to the State Highway Fund to the State General Fund for a period of three years while also pairing the sweep with an equivalent increase in the state gas tax of $0.11 per gallon.


• Reduce the state sales tax on food by 1.5 percent, taking the rate from 6.5 percent to five percent.


ITEP analysis shows that the proposal would restore approximately $820 million to the state’s general revenue fund while putting $100 million back into the pockets of Kansas families by reducing taxes on groceries.


Gov. Brownback’s recent proposals for addressing the state’s ongoing budget shortfall have included shifting money from the transportation to the general fund, deepening cuts to higher education, K-12 public schools, and community colleges, not making required pension contributions, and selling tobacco settlement dollars.


In contrast, the Rise Up Kansas coalition is calling for long-term solutions to the address the state’s long-term fiscal woes, cautioning lawmakers that “[t]he only proposal lawmakers should be willing to accept is one that will restore our state’s financial stability and allow us to once again invest in our future.”

State Rundown 12/7: New income taxes, funds for transportation, and revenue shortfalls

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This week we are bringing you news about states seeking revenue–Alaska, South Dakota, and Utah all weigh the creation of or increases to state personal income taxes; the need, and in some cases the will, for transportation funding in West Virginia, Indiana, Montana, and Louisiana; and revenue shortfalls in Florida, Ohio, Oregon, and Kansas.

— Meg Wiehe, ITEP State Policy Director, @megwiehe

  • As Alaska legislators are gearing up for a challenging session, Gov. Bill Walker works to steer the discussion away from oil taxes and more toward a structural fix that includes broad-based taxes. The Walker administration is working to develop an income tax system less closely linked to the federal tax.
  • South Dakota‘s heavy reliance on the sales tax threatens to inhibit the state’s ability to invest in vital state services, as revenues from that tax continue to struggle and other revenue options are limited. One leading businessman is proposing that it is “long past time” to discuss creating an income tax in the state to better diversify its revenue sources.
  • A coalition in Utah has announced its plans to pursue a personal income tax increase to fund education on the ballot in 2018.
  • West Virginia’s Road Fund is down $49 million over three years due to the state’s annual recalculation of the average wholesale gas price. The latest trigger comes amidst mid-year cuts to K-12 education and a shortfall expected to exceed $400 million.
  • Speaking of funding for transportation… it is a top legislative priority for Indiana lawmakers. There is less consensus around the source of new funds. Ideas being considered include new tolls, increasing the cigarette tax, raising the gas tax and indexing to inflation, and reallocating existing state resources. Gas tax increases are also being considered in Montana and Louisiana.
  • Revenue shortfalls: Economists in Florida are now projecting a budget shortfall for the upcoming budget cycle that could hit $1 billion. In Ohio, state revenues continue to lag behind estimates. Gov. John Kasich warns that the state is on the verge of a recession.
  • With the failure of ballot measure 97, Oregon faces a daunting $1.7 billion deficit. Gov. Kate Brown’s budget released last week relies on deep cuts, funds withheld from many social services and universities, and some new revenue through increased taxes on tobacco, liquor, hospitals, insurers, and some corporation owner’s incomes.
  • After revising revenue forecasting in the state, Kansas revenues in November met projections for the first time in months. However, they didn’t make a dent in the $350 million budget gap that still remains.

What We’re Reading…

  • The Lincoln Land Institute has a new-and-improved interactive website to learn about Significant Features of The Property Tax in your state and how they compare to other states and the U.S. generally.
  • New analysis from economists Piketty, Saez, and Zucman’s shows how an expanding U.S. economy over the past 3.5 decades has left half of all Americans behind.