Debt limit talks are idling, so what about prioritizing? The House Ways & Means Committee recently advanced a bill that would prioritize certain payments if the Treasury runs out of emergency measures to prevent a default. Those payments include payments for principal and interest on debt held by the public, as well as benefits for Social Security and Medicare. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week told lawmakers that such debt prioritization is “effectively a default by just another name.”
A $1.1 billion tax relief package awaits signature by New Mexico Gov. Grisham. The state legislature passed the package over the weekend. The legislation will deliver $500 individual tax rebates, tax credits of up to $600 per child, a phased-in 0.5 percent reduction in gross receipts taxes on sales and business services, and film industry incentives. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has until April 7 to sign the tax cuts into law, which made possible by windfall revenues from oil production.
Florida lawmakers want to permanently remove the sales tax on children’s diapers. Florida’s sales tax on diapers for children was suspended for one year and will return in June. Democratic and Republican lawmakers want to make the exemption permanent. Democrats are working to secure support for expanding the exemption to include adult products.
Three dozen cities and counties in Minnesota push for local sales taxes. An unprecedented number of local governments hope the state legislature approves requests for a local sales tax increase. If it does, sales tax increase proposals will appear on local ballots for approval. Revenues would fund projects ranging from nature trails to recreation centers and library improvements. The last legislative session ended in gridlock and did not approve the local government sales tax increase requests.
How might Olympia, Washington, raise revenue to fight climate change? The city’s climate program manager has identified some options. The most viable? A property tax rate increase approved by voters. Another option would be a sales tax increase, but the city would need the state’s authorization to surpass its allowed maximum tax on top of the state’s 6.5 percent levy. The city could also raise the private utility or municipal utility tax rates. A budget plan for using the revenue is due in August.
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