Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2014′s Most & Least Fair State Tax Systems

With summer ending, the 2014 elections are starting to heat up. And as usual tax policy is a hot button issue as candidates for Governor, state legislatures and other state and local offices from both parties claim their plan is more “fair.” But what does a fair tax system look like? Which states actually have the most fair tax systems?

As a follow up to our 2014 Tax Fairness Survey which focused largely on federal tax policy, WalletHub has analyzed and ranked the 50 states based on the fairness of their state and local tax systems — including income taxes, sales & excise taxes, and property taxes. To rank the states, Wallethub conducted a nationally representative online survey of 1,050 individuals to assess what Americans think a fair state and local tax system looks like. Our analysts then compared what Americans think is fair to data on the real structure of tax systems in all 50 states.

We believe this is the first ever ranking of state and local tax fairness that matches representative data on what Americans think is fair with real data on the structure of state and local tax systems.

See more from Wallethub

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2013

     The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that in 2013, the poverty rate declined from the previous year for the first time since 2006, while there was no statistically significant change in either the number of people living in poverty or real median household income. In addition, the poverty rate for children under 18 declined from the previous year for the first time since 2000. The following results for the nation were compiled from information collected in the 2014 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement.
      The nation’s official poverty rate in 2013 was 14.5 percent, down from 15.0 percent in 2012. The 45.3 million people living at or below the poverty line in 2013, for the third consecutive year, did not represent a statistically significant change from the previous year’s estimate.
      Median household income in the United States in 2013 was $51,939; the change in real terms from the 2012 median of $51,759 was not statistically significant. This is the second consecutive year that the annual change was not statistically significant, following two consecutive annual declines.
      The percentage of people without health insurance coverage for the entire 2013 calendar year was 13.4 percent; this amounted to 42.0 million people.
      These findings are contained in two reports: Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013 and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2013.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Churches They Are a Changin’: Americans’ Attitudes Toward Same-sex Marriage Are Transforming the Face of Congregations

Earlier this year, PRRI released a survey showing that support for allowing same-sex couples to marry has risen an astonishing 21 percentage points since the first legal gay weddings were performed in Massachusetts in 2003. Now, a new study of American congregations shows that Americans’ shifting perspectives on same-sex relationships are also transforming church life.

The National Congregations Study (NCS)... found that 48 percent of congregations today allow gay and lesbian couples in committed relationships to be members, up from 37 percent in 2006. More churches are also allowing gay and lesbian congregants to serve in volunteer leadership positions: 26 percent of churches reported that no volunteer leadership positions were closed to gay and lesbian members, up from 18 percent in 2006.

There were some differences among denominations.

More from the Public Religion Research Institute.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hispanic Heritage Month 2014: Sept. 15–Oct. 15

4.8 million
 Los Angeles County had the largest Hispanic population of any county in 2013.

 Miami-Dade County in Florida had the largest numeric increase of Hispanics from 2012 to 2013. Source: 2013 Population Estimates <>

 Number of states in which Hispanics were the largest minority group. These states were Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, PEPSR6H and PEPSR5H<> and <>

Families and Children

11.9 million
The number of Hispanic family households in the United States in 2013. Source: Families and Living Arrangements: Table F1 <>

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES)

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) was created in 2010. DHSES and its four offices -- Counter Terrorism, Emergency Management, Fire Prevention and Control, and Interoperable and Emergency Communications -- provide leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies.

The women and men of DHSES work closely on a daily basis with all levels of government, the private sector, and volunteer organizations to improve the readiness, response and recovery capabilities of communities throughout the Empire State.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America

Here's a superbly-kept secret: All those dates on food products -- sell by, use by, best before -- almost none of those dates indicate the safety of food, and generally speaking, they're not regulated in the way many people believe. The current system of expiration dates misleads consumers to believe they must discard food in order to protect their own safety. In fact, the dates are only suggestions by the manufacturer for when the food is at its peak quality, not when it is unsafe to eat.

U.S. consumers and businesses needlessly trash billions of pounds of food every year as a result of America's dizzying array of food expiration date labeling practices, which need to be standardized and clarified. Forty percent of the food we produce in this country never gets eaten. That's nearly half our food, wasted -- not just on our plates, but in our refrigerators and pantries, in our grocery stores and on our farms. Much of it perfectly good, edible food -- worth $165 billion annually -- gets tossed in the trash instead feeding someone who's hungry. Misinterpretation of date labels is one of the key factors contributing to this waste.

See more from National Resources Defense Council, and read the full report. From that report:

According to our 50-state research, 41 states plus the District of Columbia require date labels on at least some food items, whereas nine states do not require them on any foods. For example, New York does not require date labels to be applied to any products, while all six of its neighboring states—New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island—have such requirements.

Also check out and the USDA.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher Congratulates SUNY Campuses on U.S. News Rankings

“SUNY colleges and universities offer students top quality degree programs, applied learning opportunities, and workforce training that prepare them for success and position New York State as a leader in the 21st-century global economy.

“Today’s favorable rankings by U.S. News & World Report are another testament to SUNY’s capacity to deliver on our promises of access, completion, and success as we offer one of the best values in higher education anywhere in the country.

“Congratulations to the many SUNY campuses recognized by the 2015 U.S. News and World Report rankings.” 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Additional 2013 Characteristics of New Housing

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction, which is jointly funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has released new annual characteristics tables. This release includes never before published data on age-restricted developments, presence of homeowners association, sewer and water systems, framing material and laundry. The report provides estimates of new privately owned residential structures in the U.S and the four regions. Internet address.