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Assessing the affordability of state debt
State governments commonly issue debt to finance the construction of roads, schools, and other investments in infrastructure that are important for economic growth and competitiveness. While borrowing funds can facilitate these investments, there is also a danger in allowing debt to grow unchecked. If debt service is too high, it can crowd out other public spending or else necessitate burdensome taxes or fees. Policymakers thus must carefully balance a state's capital needs with efforts to keep debt levels affordable. This report highlights some considerations faced by policymakers or ...
How does New Hampshire do it?: an analysis of spending and revenues in the absence of a broad-based income or sales tax
This report seeks to understand how New Hampshire has avoided a broad-based income or sales tax by examining the factors that drive the state?s lower-than-average per capita spending and the revenue sources the state relies on to pay for that spending in lieu of an income or sales tax. It presents comparative data for the six New England states and discusses some of the impediments faced by other states in the region interested in emulating New Hampshire's fiscal model. ; The author finds that New Hampshire's below-average spending is due to a combination of policy choices and favorable ...
Measuring municipal fiscal disparities in Connecticut
Fiscal disparities exist when some municipalities face higher costs for providing a given level of public services or fewer taxable resources to finance those services than others. A municipality's economic and social characteristics can affect both costs and resources. The potential for fiscal disparities in Connecticut is particularly high given the vast socioeconomic differences observed across the state's 169 cities and towns. This paper measures the non-school fiscal health of Connecticut municipalities using a "municipal gap." Municipal gap is the difference between the ...
When the tide goes out: unemployment insurance trust funds and the Great Recession, lessons for and from New England
The unemployment insurance (UI) program is a federal-state program aiming to: (1) provide temporary, partial compensation for the lost earnings of individuals who become unemployed through no fault of their own and (2) serve as a stabilizer during economic downturns by injecting additional resources into the economy in the form of benefit payments. Each state, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, operates its own UI program within federal guidelines. ; Since the onset of the Great Recession in late 2007, two-thirds of state UI programs depleted their trust funds ...
State highway funding in New England: the road to greater fiscal sustainability
Many of the region's roads and bridges are in need of significant repair and improvement. There is concern that current revenue sources are inadequate relative to the projected expense of maintaining and keeping New England's roads, bridges, and other transportation assets in good condition. How to address the projected gap in transportation revenues and expenditures is largely a policy choice. Most states rely on the motor fuel excise tax or "gas tax" but this revenue source is widely recognized as not fiscally sustainable. The tax does not automatically grow with inflation, whereas the ...
Evaluating business tax credits: reading between the lines
This policy brief provides guidelines for critically evaluating and interpreting empirical studies of state business tax credits. This brief summarizes analysis in NEPPC discussion paper 09-3: State Business Tax Incentives: Examining Evidence of their Effectiveness.
A guide to state debt affordability studies: common elements and best practices
Policymakers must carefully balance a state's capital needs with efforts to keep debt levels affordable. To help weigh these competing concerns, a number of states routinely prepare formal debt affordability studies. By exploring the purpose of such studies, their common elements, and best practices, this policy brief aims to provide guidance to states that are developing or re-examining their own debt affordability analyses.
State business tax incentives: examining evidence of their effectiveness
State governments commonly use business tax credits to promote economic development. Whether these incentives are successful at generating new economic activity - and whether they do so in a cost-effective manner - are important concerns, particularly in times of fiscal and economic stress. This paper explores the use and effectiveness of a selected group of incentives, namely tax credits geared toward capital investment, research and development, job creation, and film production. The paper examines the various credits offered by New England states and their structural features, and reviews ...