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State tax hikes take aim at top earners

Two months into the current fiscal year and still without a budget, Connecticut state senators voted at 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 1 to send Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) a spending plan that generates revenue by hiking income taxes on the state's wealthiest residents.

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Budget cuts test state personnel policies

Forced to dramatically cut payrolls, some states are finding low-cost ways to boost employee morale, even as they struggle to maintain basic human resource functions such as training, recruiting, hiring and regular performance reviews.

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Tax appeals skyrocket as home values plummet (access required)

After learning in February that 99 percent of all Maricopa County homeowners could expect to see the value of their homes decrease from the previous year, Gregory Sarena was stunned to learn the county assessor concluded his Cave Creek residence had gone up 20 percent within one year.

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States draw down rainy day funds

or Maine Gov. John Baldacci (D), the convergence of bad economic times and a depleted state emergency savings account is a familiar experience. When Baldacci stepped into office in 2003, he inherited a recession-battered economy and an empty reserve account, also known as a rainy day fund. As a result, he and the Legislature faced the daunting task of closing a $1.2 billion budget hole without a financial cushion to absorb any of the shortfall.

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Cities, states wrangle over cuts to local aid

In Minnesota, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's cuts in state funding to local government forced cities and counties to consider their own round of layoffs, furloughs and benefit freezes. State reductions were so troubling in Massachusetts that three cities are now deciding whether to cancel their primary elections to conserve cash.

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Budget cuts drive states’ DMV changes

Drivers going to the department of motor vehicles will likely face longer lines and higher service fees in several states as recession-ravaged budgets force the shutdown of branch offices, a reduced work force and the need to raise revenue.

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Are struggling community banks prepared for a new threat? (access required)

Most community banks in Arizona are losing money, lending is down, and a veteran banker concedes that every day is a challenge. It was a little too challenging for two Arizona banks, which were closed by state and federal regulators Aug. 14. A third bank is operating under federal orders to improve what were found to be “unsafe and unsound banking practices.”

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