Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Arizona teacher walkouts to continue … Gary to cancel its air show for second time … Nashville transit vote … and companies scoop up their scooters in Austin.
PUBLIC HEALTH | A coalition of legal and health care advocates plan to sue Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s administration for not acting to expand Medicaid eligibility in the state, as was approved by a majority of state voters in a November ballot initiative. LePage has opposed the expansion of Medicaid in Maine without state lawmakers identifying long-term funding to pay for it that doesn’t rely on one-time funding, increasing taxes or shifting money from other budget priorities. The state is facing federal deadlines in order to launch expanded Medicaid in July. [NECN; Modern Health Care]
PUBLIC EDUCATION | The #RedforEd teacher walkouts in Arizona will continue into Tuesday and Wednesday as Gov. Doug Ducey and state lawmakers in Phoenix continue to figure out a compromise to boost salaries of educators in the Grand Canyon State, as has been demanded. While most school districts will remain closed in the coming days, some, including the Vail School District near Tucson, are figuring out ways to staff operations with substitutes and administrators in classrooms. Some school districts plan to be closed the rest of the week. [The Republic / AZCentral.com; Arizona Daily Star / Tucson.com; KPNX-TV / 12News]
CITY HALLS | Voters in Nashville go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to approve a major transit expansion funding package in Tennessee’s capital city. The plan, which includes light-rail and bus rapid transit lines plus a transit-only tunnel downtown, was originally championed by then-Mayor Megan Barry, who resigned earlier this year, and is supported by the city’s current mayor, David Briley and other civic stakeholders. But it’s unclear whether transit supporters or opponents have the edge going into Tuesday’s vote. [The Tennessean; CityLab]
Officials in Gary, Indiana have canceled the city’s air show for a second year in a row, due to a lack of funding. "While we are developing our long term financial recovery plan, we have frozen spending and hiring and reduced spending while embracing opportunities to attract new businesses to the table,” Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said in a statement. “This has required focus, discipline and sacrifice. We know that the short-team difficulty will be rewarded with long-term benefits." [WIBC-TV]
In order to boost his city’s police bureau budget, Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler has proposed increase the city’s business license tax by an estimated $15.3 million. The business license tax, “which is 2.2 percent of a business' net income, is the second largest source of money for the city's general fund, after property taxes.” [Willamette Week; Portland Tribune]
- New York City, New York: After months of closures for rehabilitation and reconstruction work, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reopened the Myrtle Viaduct and Fresh Pond Bridge, which carry subway trains on the M line through parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Rehabbing the century-old elevated track infrastructure has been a priority ahead of next year’s closure of the Canarsie Tubes, the heavily underwater tunnels that carry L trains between Brooklyn and Union Square in Manhattan, for significant rehabilitation work to repair damage from flooding from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. With L train service out of commission for 15 months starting in April 2019, commuters in Bushwick, Williamsburg and other Brooklyn neighborhoods will have to change their commuting routes to cross the East River, including shifting to J and M trains via the Williamsburg Bridge. [amNY; MTA; @NYCTSubway]
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Gov. Mary Fallin signed a $7.6 billion spending package on Monday. The “higher tax rates on motor fuel, cigarettes and the production of oil and gas” will help fund a 20 percent increase in education spending. [The Oklahoman / NewsOK.com]
- Austin, Texas: Two companies have pulled their motorized scooters from the streets of Texas’ capital city following the Austin City Council passing an emergency ordinance on Friday, which allows the city to impound scooters left on public rights of way. The companies, Bird Rides and LimeBike, deployed their motorized scooters in central Austin neighborhoods without city permission. [Austin American-Statesman]
- Los Angeles County, California: Voters in the nation’s most populous county will be considering a property tax measure aimed at funding stormwater infrastructure improvements. The measure is a “proposed parcel tax of between 3 and 4 cents per square foot of area deemed impermeable to water—such as roofs, driveways, garages and parking lots” and could generate up to $400 million annually. [Los Angeles Times]
- Snohomish County, Washington: A nearly 110-year-old Washington state law requires that local governments to file financial reports with the state auditor within a 150-day of the end of a fiscal year. While that law certainly applies to municipalities, it also impacts “the state’s 1,931 fire, sewer, diking, drainage, cemetery and other special purpose districts,” which have found compliance difficult and burdensome. That includes the tiny Snohomish County Diking District 2, which hasn’t filed an annual report for nearly a decade. [The Everett Herald]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.