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This November, Coloradans will vote on whether to invest $950 million in their state’s education system under a newly approved ballot measure (Amendment 66) that would convert the state’s flat income tax into a more progressive, graduated rate tax.  Given the steep regressivity (PDF) of the state’s tax system, moving toward a more progressive income tax would be an equitable way to raise revenue.  Watch this space for more discussion of the impacts of Amendment 66 in the coming weeks.

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie is calling lawmakers back to Honolulu for a special session next month to legalize gay marriage in the Aloha State. The state already allows civil unions, which grant same-sex couples state benefits and protections, but not federal.  In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling this summer on marriage equality, the Governor wants to ensure all of his state’s citizens are able to take full advantage of federal tax benefits and other protections as soon as possible.

Later this month, Nebraska’s Tax Modernization Commission will begin holding public hearings to get feedback on a list of potential tax reform options.  As this editorial from the Lincoln Journal Star explains, the Commission is looking to hear from citizens about the best ways to improve the state’s tax system, not simply “a parade of people saying they want to pay less in taxes”.  The committee is looking at “equity — creating a fair and balanced tax system for all Nebraskans.”  Committee members have also said they will not support eliminating the personal income tax, part of a reform plan Governor Heineman pushed for earlier this year. In the wake of the governor’s tax reform failure, the legislature created this Commission.

More state lawmakers are beginning to give serious thought to whether special tax breaks are doing anything worthwhile for the vast majority of their constituents. Elected officials in Maine, Nebraska, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia have each addressed this issue in recent weeks.  Will any of them choose to follow Rhode Island’s lead in implementing a new process for evaluating tax breaks?