Finance

School vouchers were supposed to save taxpayer money. Instead they blew a massive hole in Arizona’s budget.

Arizona, the model for voucher programs across the country, has spent so much money paying private schoolers’ tuition that it’s now facing hundreds of millions in budget cuts to critical state programs and projects.

At two-year mark, federal funding for 988 is running dry. Enter phone fees.

Only 10 states have identified permanent funding for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in their communities. Experts say a surcharge can help policymakers keep pace with the growing mental health crisis.

States, cities consider ‘mansion taxes’ to fund affordable housing

From sales taxes to real estate transfer taxes, governments are desperately trying to identify dedicated funding tracts for homelessness and housing initiatives.

New data tool looks to cure medical debt woes

As state and local governments grapple with the impacts of medical debt on their communities, a new resource looks to help inform strategies aimed at remedying the financial burden.

Zoning reform made way for an explosion of smaller homes in California. Will it work elsewhere?

Encouraged by California’s success, states across the country are passing laws to allow for more accessory dwelling units to address a shortage of affordable homes. But a slew of factors can keep the housing solution from taking off.

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States take a more measured approach to ESG mandates

There's great recognition—on both sides of the issue—that strict pro- and anti-environmental, social and governance investing strategies can lead to unintended costs and administrative challenges.

Federal regulator: Pharmacy middlemen appear to be raising prices, hurting patients

The Federal Trade Commission released an interim report saying that sprawling health care conglomerates are driving out competition in the pharmacy sector and appear to be increasing prices in the process.

Gas taxes can’t pay for roads much longer, but Amazon deliveries might

More states could follow Colorado and Minnesota in putting a fee on retail deliveries.

Fireworks sales have fallen back to Earth after years of explosive growth. Here’s why.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were stuck in their homes and social distancing was common, fireworks use shot up.

$1 trillion a year in tax breaks goes out the door. Are states keeping track?

A new report from the Volcker Alliance highlights the lack of transparency around tax expenditures, and calls on states to better monitor whether the tax breaks are achieving their intended effects.

How states are cracking down on rising prescription drug costs

From creating drug price review boards to bulk purchasing medications, state officials are keen on keeping health care costs down amid skyrocketing prescription costs.

Is it time to dig into rainy day funds?

Despite reserves bulging and revenue receding, state legislators and governors are reluctant to spend savings.

The fuzzy line between sports betting and fantasy games

Several states have already clamped down on fantasy apps for getting too close to sports betting. Virginia could be next.

The time is now: Harnessing rigorous evaluation in a post-ARPA America

COMMENTARY | Cities and states can use the federal funds to evaluate the effectiveness of new programs.

In tax code ruling, U.S. Supreme Court declined to open ‘Pandora's box’

Justices sided with the government, avoiding a decision that could have upended the tax code and cost state and local governments trillions of dollars.

The great Salt Lake City tax tradeoff

In a few weeks, the city council will be voting on a 0.5% sales tax to support economic development downtown. But it’s not the money that is drawing all the attention, it’s what the city is giving up.

Communities step up their resilience and climate planning

COMMENTARY | A county in Florida is leveraging federal funding to reduce carbon emissions, improve energy efficiency in public buildings and invest in renewable energy infrastructure.

How local government fraud has—and hasn’t—changed since the pandemic

We spoke to a leading state auditor about how remote work and artificial intelligence are ushering in new kinds of fraud in state and local governments.

Indiana weighs hospital monopoly as officials elsewhere scrutinize similar deals

Some states are enacting laws that require merged hospitals to agree to conditions imposed by regulators, but the Federal Trade Commission says those agreements increase prices and diminish care.

Big districts like Philadelphia ‘gamble’ on higher spending as enrollment falls, study finds

End of federal relief funds means 'all of the big districts at once' face decisions about layoffs and school closures, says Manhattan Institute.