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TAXES: State

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The New Conservative

The state of Maryland has recently received a crash-course in Macroeconomics 101. Amidst a budget deficit last year, the politicians in Annapolis created a new tax bracket for the wealthiest 0.3% of earners. The new millionaire tax bracket raised the top marginal income-tax rate for the state to 6.25%. Democrats praised the new tax, predicting that it would bring an additional $106 million to the state coffers. In true Marxist fashion, Governor Martin O’Malley declared that these taxpayers were "willing and able to pay their fair share." A funny thing happened this past tax season, however. According to the state comptroller’s office, million-dollar income tax returns have decreased from 3,000 to 2,000, down one-third! Naturally, some of this can be attributed to the economic downturn; but much of it is due to millionaires actually leaving the state. In this case, the grass really was greener on the other side. Instead of bringing in an extra $106 million, the st

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Yahoo

There are many things public officials probably shouldn't do during a severe recession, but no one seems to have told the leaders in Florida about them. One thing, for instance, would be giving a dozen top aides hefty raises while urging a rise in property taxes, as the mayor of Miami-Dade County recently did. Or jacking up already exorbitant hurricane-insurance premiums, as Florida's government-run property insurer just did. Or sending an army of highly paid lobbyists to push for a steep hike in electricity rates, as South Florida's public utility is doing. But the less than sunny mood in Miami-Dade is made darker by the feeling among most residents that their fiscal jam is not just a result of falling revenue, but also years of profligate mismanagement. The final determination on their property taxes will be made soon by the Miami-Dade County Commission - a feckless, corruption-tainted body, many of whose members ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in police overti

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Reuters

About 50 yogis gathered in New York recently to discuss hiring a lobbyist and raise funds to fight a state proposal to require certification of yoga teacher training programs -- a move they say would unfairly cost them money.

"It has brought us under one roof," said Fara Marz, who held the gathering at his Om Factory yoga studio in New York. "And this shows that yogis can be vicious, political, together."

Yoga enthusiasts who say autonomy is fundamental to what they do

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WSJ

The recession is finally hitting city budgets, with overall city revenues inching down in fiscal 2009 for the first time since 2002, according to a report to be released Tuesday by the National League of Cities. Weak growth in property taxes, reflecting soft housing prices, did not counterbalance sharp declines in other sources of income, including sales taxes, income taxes and state aid, according to a survey of 379 league member cities. Overall city revenues declined by 0.4%, even as expenses rose 2.5%, and city officials expect steep drops in tax collections in the next two years, making for the worst outlook in the 24 years the group has been surveying its members. Western cities were particularly downbeat. The gloomy mood "is indicative of the depths of the downturn, that they have the worst ahead of them, and the fact that the recession is universally hitting their revenue sources," said Chris Hoene, research director for the league. Because employee wages

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AP

California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass plans to strip the most controversial provisions from a Senate-approved plan that would have trimmed the state's prison population by 27,000 inmates.  The Assembly version would keep about 10,000 more inmates behind bars and leave the state with a new, nearly $200 million budget hole, Bass said early Friday.

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AzFamily.com

An Arizona state senator resigned from her leadership post Tuesday, citing philosophical differences with other Republican leaders on taxes and spending.

In an e-mail announcing her resignation as Senate majority whip, Republican Sen. Pamela Gorman of Anthem says she finds raising taxes during a recession is the wrong thing to do.

Gorman, who is retaining her position as a state senator, is an opponent of Gov. Jan Brewer's proposal for a sales tax increase. Gorman says the tax issue is tearing apart the Republican caucus.

The Arizona Legislature returned Tuesday afternoon to its special session focusing on closing a state budget deficit estimated at more than $3 billion. 


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AP

A bond analyst was skeptical about California's revised budget, saying it was filled with accounting tricks that would do little to improve the state's poor credit rating. In addition, lenders may not be satisfied with California's latest spending plan, which combines $15 billion in cuts to education, prisons, parks and other aspects of state government with accounting maneuvers and borrowing to

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LA Times

Less than 24 hours after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders announced a plan to close California's massive budget deficit, LA Co. officials  sue the state, a union for government workers said it might strike, and Republicans threatened to back out of the deal over a provision to cut the number of prison inmates by 27,000.

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Philadelphia Inquirer

It concerns a little-known law dating to Elizabethan England suddenly being enforced with gusto in Pennsylvania. The law can force adult children to pay their parents' health-care costs.

If Mom and Pop can't pay, you pay. If they have the money but refuse to pay, you pay. If you don't, watch your credit rating sink under the weight of a legal judgment that will haunt you for life.

It happened to Don Grant. It can happen to you.

 

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AP

Thousands of vendors who do billions of dollars of business with the state of California are scrambling as major banks say they will no longer honor the state's IOUs.

Despite pressure from the state treasurer, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., and Wells Fargo & Co. and other major banks planned to stick to their plans and not honor California's warrants after Friday. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer announced Citigroup Inc. agreed to a one-week extension through July 17.

 

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AP

A pro-marijuana group is launching another television bid to legalize pot in California — this time with the pitch that legalizing and taxing the drug could help solve the state's massive budget deficit.

The 30-second spot, airing Wednesday and paid for by the Marijuana Policy Project, features a retired 58-year-old state worker who says state leaders "are ignoring millions of Californians who want to pay taxes."

 

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