The United States slipped one spot to eighth in the most recent iteration of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings. The Index ranks countries based on how supportive their economies and regulatory frameworks are to starting and operating a local firm. For the United States, the report uses a population-weighted score for Los Angeles and New York City. A decade ago the United States ranked third, behind only perennial top-two finishers Singapore and New Zealand, but in this year’s Index it also ranked behind Denmark, Hong Kong, South Korea, Norway, and the United Kingdom
If the next recession hit the U.S. this year, more than a quarter of states would be financially unprepared to weather even a moderate downturn, according to a new report.
Fifteen states would struggle in the case of a recession-related tax revenue slump and spike in demand for services, such as Medicaid. They are more than 5 percentage points below the share of funds left in their budgets they would need to tap, according to a new Moody’s Analytics analysis. Another 19 states narrowly fall short.
California extended income but not sales tax hikes, though local sales tax increases dropped California in the Index’s sales tax component.
The passage of Santiago’s bill highlighted a continually messy debate at the state Capitol concerning which projects deserve breaks from strictly complying with the California Environmental Quality Act, the primary environmental law governing development. The law, known as CEQA, requires developers to disclose and reduce projects’ effects on the environment, often a time-consuming and costly process made longer by lawsuits that can last years.
Legislators have long talked about overhauling CEQA — Gov. Jerry Brown has called doing so “the Lord’s work” — but the rare measures that advance often only provide relief for deep-pocketed developers or have the backing of Sacramento’s most powerful interests.
Labor influence over climate policies occasionally made Democrats uncomfortable last week. One late addition to state budget legislation, Assembly Bill 134, directs regulators to develop a process for determining whether automakers are “fair and responsible” in their treatment of workers.
If lawmakers approve the process next year and companies fall short of that standard, their electric cars could become ineligible for California rebates that are crucial to making zero-emission vehicles more cost competitive. Tesla, the state’s only automaker, has resisted efforts to unionize the workforce at its Fremont factory.
The provision was supported by the California Labor Federation, a coalition that includes the United Auto Workers, as a way to ensure public money doesn’t flow to companies that mistreat employees. But these kinds of rules could end up “undermining our own goals” of fighting climate change with more electric cars, said Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).