Hawaii gov expected to sign jobless tax relief

Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is expected to sign into law this week a measure reducing an increase in businesses’ unemployment taxes. Lingle’s administration had set a Friday deadline for the law to be passed, and the governor has said she isn’t inclined to veto the bill passed by the Legislature last week. Lingle says she would have preferred more tax relief for businesses, but “a little relief is better than no relief.”

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Business taxes were scheduled to go up from an average of $90 per employee to $1,070, but this bill reduces the increase to $630 per employee.

The taxes ensure that the state has enough money to continue paying benefits to laid-off workers. [Read the full article]

As Washington state lawmakers enter the final stretch of the 60-day legislative session, majority Democrats are trying to negotiate how best to bridge a $2.8 billion budget deficit, a task that offers a fundamental political dilemma.

Try to cut too much spending on priorities such as education and health care, and not enough Democratic lawmakers will agree. Try to raise taxes enough to pay for all those priorities, and centrists worried about hurting the economy and provoking voter outrage will balk.

Three different plans have been introduced, but with time running out before Thursday’s scheduled adjournment, House and Senate leaders and Gov. Chris Gregoire still need to reach a consensus.

Both the House and Senate have each approved their own budget plans, but it didn’t come easily, and now the real negotiations must begin. [Read the full article]

Portugal announced new austerity measures Monday to avoid a debt crisis like the one engulfing Greece, cutting welfare benefits and government hiring as well as selling assets and raising taxes on the well-off.

The announcement comes two days ahead of a bond issue in which Portugal will try to raise euro750 million ($1.02 billion). Greece was able to tap bond markets last week after also announcing more deep cutbacks to shore up its finances.

The two countries’ troubles have fueled a Europe-wide debt crisis that has undermined the euro and led the European Union to consider setting up a new European monetary fund to help support the euro.

Portugal aims to raise euro6 billion ($8.2 billion) from privatizations, trim welfare benefits and slash other state expenditure in an effort to reduce the country’s heavy debt load, Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos said. [Read the full article]

New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey and former defensive lineman Charles Grant are suing ex-teammate Kevin Houser over investments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars tied to a now-defunct movie studio.

Shockey and Grant paid for what they thought would be state movie industry tax credits returning $1.33 for each dollar they invested.

State officials say Wayne Read, the CEO of the bankrupt Louisiana Film Studios LLC, never applied for the credits and the money was never returned to investors.

Louisiana’s film tax credit program is designed to promote the movie industry in the state. Buyers of tax credits get a reduction in the actual amount of income taxes they pay, unlike a deduction, which only reduces taxable income. The credits can be bought and sold.

In a suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court, Grant claims he paid Houser, a licensed securities broker, $425,000 in January 2009 and was to receive $585,000 in tax credits. [Read the full article]

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