8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
Committee Business Breakfast
Public Pension Challenges: Responses from Oklahoma
Oklahoma, just like a majority of the state retirement systems across the country, faces enormous challenges related to improving the funded ratio of its pension system, a scenario exacerbated by the gloomy outlook in every element of our national retirement architecture. In response, Speaker Kris Steele, Oklahoma House of Representatives has made it clear that he intends to aggressively push to reform, revamp and stabilize his state’s wobbly pension system. Along with sponsoring a series of legislative measures to accomplish this goal, Speaker Steele appointed his House colleague Representative Randy McDaniel to lead this reform effort. What are some of the measures that Oklahoma initiated in 2011?
Representative Randy McDaniel, Oklahoma
Modifying Public Pensions: Legal and Other Challenges
Public pensions are an expenditure category posing complex fiscal challenges in many states. In recent years, state policymakers in dozens of states – influenced by the depleted fiscal position of many retirement plans dating back to the 2001 recession, the enormous investment losses experienced in the Great Recession and their weak state budget situations—have enacted legislative and other changes to lower expenditures related to public pensions. These changes include a blend of increased employee contributions and benefit reductions. Controversially, in some instances, these benefit cutbacks have been extended to lower pension benefits for current and future retirees. What is the status of this most recent trend and what are the legal implications of such an approach? How have the states that deployed these strategies to lower their overall pension costs fared in the courts?
Professor Amy B. Monahan, The University of Minnesota Law School
E-Commerce and State Finances: Latest Trends
The explosive growth in e-Commerce transactions has profound impacts on many aspects of the contemporary economy. U.S. retail e-Commerce sales exploded from a mere $8.3 billion in the first quarter of 2001 to $41.5 billion in the third quarter of 2010, a remarkable increase. Yet, due to U.S. Supreme Court rulings and federal inaction, state and local governments continue to lose sales and use tax revenues because of their inability to collect taxes on these transactions. Research by the University of Tennessee indicates that states and local governments lost and continue to lose billions of dollars as a result of this restriction. As a result, North Carolina ranks among a growing number of states that are taking action to force online retailers to collect sales and use tax on purchases made by their residents. What are the latest statistics related to estimated annual national state and local sales tax losses on e-commerce transactions? What measures did North Carolina initiate to collect sales taxes on purchases made on the Internet? What were the legal arguments, both for and against in these efforts? What is the current status of these measures?
Dr. William F. Fox, Director and Professor of Economics, Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at The University of Tennessee at Knoxville
David W. Hoyle, Secretary, Department of Revenue, Raleigh, North Carolina
noon - 1:30 p.m.
LEGISLATIVE Fiscal PLENARY
Poised to Take Off? U.S. Economy in 2011 and Beyond
U.S. economic forecasts from across the spectrum for 2011 and 2012 reflect renewed optimism that more robust rates of growth are likely. Given the far-reaching, adverse consequences of the Great Recession, this is very welcome news, particularly to those of us at the state level. What are the actual forecasts for 2011 and 2012 and what areas in the U.S. economy stand poised to gain from the increased growth? What are the implications of high growth rates in other parts of the world, China, Brazil and other emerging markets, on the U.S. economy? How can the U.S., particularly the Southern states, take advantage of this growth overseas?
Tim Nicholls, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, International Paper, Memphis, Tennessee
Effective Debt Management Policies: Efforts in Tennessee
In the last few years, a number of local governments around the country faced and continue to grapple with enormous financial liabilities as a result of taking on risky debt instruments to pay for schools, roads and other projects. Interest rate swaps, derivatives and other complex financial instruments were part of this trend in the past decade. Conflict of interest issues, a lack of financial sophistication and over-reliance on variable-rate debt financially crippled these local governments and taxpayers. In a policy response to this development and to stave off future occurrences, the State Funding Board in Tennessee has initiated a number of measures to adopt a model debt management policy. What are the key elements of this plan? How will the new plan’s “guiding principles” help protect taxpayers and local governments going forward? Can elements of the plan be adopted in other states?
Justin P. Wilson, Comptroller of the Treasury, Nashville, Tennessee
noon - 1:30 p.m.
Comparative Data Reports Presentations
These reports are prepared annually by select SLC states' fiscal research departments. Because CDRs track a multitude of revenue sources and appropriations levels in Southern states, they provide a useful tool to legislators and legislative staff alike as they determine their own state spending. The reports analyze state tax structures and revenue forecasts, adult correctional systems, K-12 educational systems, state transportation programs and Medicaid spending. Comparative Data Reports are prepared under the auspices of the Conference's Fiscal Affairs & Government Operations Committee.
West Virginia Legislative Staff
Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Office
Arkansas Bureau Of Legislative Research
Kentucky Legislative Research Commission
Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Office