Madera, California is in dire financial straits. The city’s general-fund deficit is projected to rise from $1.7 million in 2018 to almost $4 million by 2023. Making the situation even worse, however, is the fact that Madera’s public sector workers recently pocketed a massive compensation increase. () Residents of this largely low and middle-income community were rightly outraged by the massive pay raises at their expense — but wouldn’t have even known about them had it not been for Nevada Policy Research Institute’s multi-state transparency projects: TransparentNevada.com and TransparentCalifornia.com.
Federal tax reform
In late 2017, a tax reform package was passed by Congress and signed by the President that not only lowered the personal federal income tax for all income brackets, but lowered the corporate tax rate as well. And the resulting benefit for workers has been a wave of wage increases, bonuses and new opportunities. () Even here in Nevada, workers are seeing the impact of tax reform. Last week, the owner of South Point, Michael Gaughan, announced he’ll be routing an extra $1 million to employees this year because of tax reform.
It’s no wonder government enterprises always overspend. The IRS, in the last fiscal year, spent $20 million to collect a mere $6.7 million in back taxes using private collectors. The overspending should be seen as a prime example of government’s inability to balance cost and benefit, but is instead being presented by the New York Times as an argument against spending cuts and “privatization” of government services.
Not all health–care reform has to occur at the federal level — a point that the Trump administration seems to be embracing as federal reform efforts stall in Washington. Trump has recently signaled that he’s willing to grant Medicaid waivers to states that want to implement work requirements on the government-funded healthcare program. Such waivers are a significant step toward healthcare reform, given the inaction on the federal level. In fact, it could be “yuuuge.”
In recent years, it has been uncovered that government agents have spied on journalists, members of Congress, citizen activists and even a presidential campaign. It’s therefore not too surprising that many Americans are apprehensive about government’s ability to monitor, collect and comb through our personal data without due–process protections. Unfortunately, this week, the House voted to expand that abuse, increasing the likelihood for potential abuse by federal intelligence agencies.
Two women recently tried to challenge a licensure law in Missouri, which required them to take thousands of hours of training and get government permission before braiding hair professionally. Unfortunately, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the burdensome regulations, using a legal concept known as a “rational basis standard.” Essentially, the standard means that challengers to a regulation must not only refute any justifications advanced by the state, but also must refute “every conceivable basis which might support” the statute or regulation. As Ilya Shapiro and Aaron Barnes pondered at Cato, “What are the actual limits of this amorphous standard? Could a court rationalize requiring a hair braider to obtain a degree in economics to properly price her services? A medical degree with experience in pain management in order to protect the tender-headed? Mandatory viewing of 80’s hair–metal videos in order to warn against the dangers of hair styling gone terribly wrong?”