Addressing State Budget Deficits, Promoting Civil Rights & Equal Opportunity, The Foreclosure Generation, and Much More

Addressing State Budget Deficits:

  • A Balanced Approach to Closing State Deficits - To close budget deficits, this report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities urges a "balanced approach" that includes increasing efficiency in existing spending, using available resources like rainy day funds and federal fiscal support, scrutinizing all spending including tax expenditure, improved collections, and appropriate revenue increases.  It also urges examining contracting practices to reexamine whether private contractors are delivering value compared to doing the work in-house with government employees.  It provides links to a number of Center resources to assist on each of these goals.
  • Let There Be Light: Making Oklahoma's Tax Expenditures More Transparent and Accountable - This Oklahoma Policy Institute policy brief found over 450 separate tax expenditures in Oklahoma law; together, they represented at least $5.6 billion in lost revenue in FY '08, an amount equal to more than 75 percent of direct state appropriations and an increase of over $1 billion compared to just two years earlier. The brief lays out a dozen specific policy recommendations to expand transparency and accountability for those tax expenditures.
  • The State of the States 2010 - While focus has been on the immediate ways the recession is effecting state budgets, this report by the Pew Center on the States also looks at the choices lawmakers and voters are about to make that will affect states’ fiscal well-being in the long term.  Questions raised include whether changes will lead to permanent downsizing of government and whether there will be a reexamination of how states and the federal government divide responsibility for funding certain programs

Promoting Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity-

  • Uniting Communities: The Toolkit - This new toolkit by the Western States Center is designed to proactively bring together the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community and communities of color to address racial justice and LGBTQ equality.  It contains 10 case studies that highlight the successes that groups across the country have had in breaking new paths towards inclusiveness and culturally specific engagement.
  • Ensuring Equal and Expanded Opportunity - The Opportunity Agenda has created this series of tools for advocates and policymakers to use as they advocate for equal opportunity in the economic recovery process.  As they argue, an economic recovery policy should not only jump-start the economy in the short-term, but also invest in lasting opportunity for all beyond simply returning us to the conditions that existed at the beginning of this economic crisis.
  • Broadband in the Mississippi Delta: A 21st Century Racial Justice Issue - With far too little Internet access in communities of color, hundreds of thousands are effectively prevented from contributing to the economy, as this report on broadband availability in Mississippi by the Center for Social Inclusion finds.  Neighborhoods without high-speed access have few businesses and few jobs available.  The report urges that Recovery Act funds ensure that resources are directed to communities hardest hit by the recession, particularly rural and urban communities of color.

Immigration and Wages: Methodological Advancements Confirm Modest Gains for Native Workers -  In a new analysis of the impact of immigrants and immigration on wage levels for native-born workers, the Economic Policy Institute contradicts the flawed conventional wisdom on immigration’s effect on wage rates of native-born workers.  The recent study uncovered little evidence that immigration negatively impacts US-born workers, and found the wages of native-born workers actually rose as a result of immigration between 1994 and 2007 — a period when the nation absorbed a historic influx of immigrants.  In addition, the study found wage rates of black and white native-born workers rose overall as a result of immigration.  

The Foreclosure Generation: The Long-Term Impact of the Housing Crisis on Latino Children and Families - Latino children and families who have lost their homes to foreclosure suffer long-term psychological and social trauma, according to this report by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and UNC's Center for Community Capital (CCC).  Problems experienced by Latino families include multiple moves, marital discord, anxiety, depression, children's poor performance in school, and loss of the family savings and financial safety net.  These troubles continue to escalate for our nation as an estimated 1.3 million Latino families have lost or will lose their homes to foreclosure between 2009 and 2012. 

The Right Track: Building a 21st Century High-Speed Rail System for America - U.S. PIRG explores the economic and social significance of passenger rail and the need for substantial investment moving forward.  The report comprehensively analyzes current infrastructure on a regional and state basis and provides recommendations as to how the country can properly develop a 21st century rail network that will reduce oil dependence, encourage regional cooperation, protect the environment, and foster growth.

Expanded Time, Enriching Experiences: Expanded Learning Time Schools and Community Organization Partnerships - This Center for American Progress report examines how longer school days and years have been used in some school districts to improve student outcomes.  Many schools also seek to maximize student success within the expanded school day through partnerships with external organizations that offer a variety of resources to students and teachers. The report recommends involving partners early in planning processes, ensuring that partners have the capacity to include all children in their programs, and that policymakers help facilitate that these partnerships are funded and supported.

Improving Access to Public Benefits: Helping Eligible Individuals and Families Get the Income Support They Need - While the federal Recovery Act helped make available funds for the unemployed and low-income families suffering in the recession, many of those resources are unused by those in need because of eligibility requirements and complicated application processes, according to this report by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute, and Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report calls for improved outreach efforts to increase public awareness and the implementation of new technology-based tools to ease the application process.