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Research Roundup

Public-Private Power Grab: The Risks in Privatizing State Economic Development Agencies - Recently, several right-wing governors have proposed privatizing state economic development agencies. A new report by Good Jobs First assesses the problems these misguided policies, and finds that, in states that have undertaken this effort, “the track record is filled with examples of misuse of taxpayer funds, political interference, questionable subsidy awards, and conflicts of interest.”

A Capital Idea: Repealing State Tax Breaks for Capital Gains Would Ease Budget Woes and Improve Budget Fairness - A recent policy brief from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) examines capital gains and how they are taxed. ITEP finds that states can alleviate fiscal pressure by repealing the huge tax breaks provided for income from capital gains, and that eight states alone in 2010 lost almost $500 million in tax revenue due to these “costly, inequitable, and ineffective” breaks.

Controlling Risk Without Gimmicks: New York’s Infrastructure Crisis and Public-Private Partnerships - The Office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli recently released this analysis of the use of privatization to address the state’s significant infrastructure needs. The report identifies four major risks to undertaking such efforts: underestimation of the value of public assets and the likelihood of short-changing the public; the potential to place unwarranted expenses on the backs of taxpayers; poorly drafted agreements; and budget gimmickry.

Holding Steady, Looking Ahead: Annual Findings Of A 50-State Survey Of Eligibility Rules, Enrollment and Renewal Procedures, And Cost Sharing Practices in Medicaid and CHIP, 2010-2011 - This annual 50-state survey from Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that, despite plummeting revenues leading to budget crises in many states, almost all “maintained or made targeted expansions or improvements.” The analysis credits the stability in state Medicaid and children’s health insurance programs in large part to funds provided by the Recovery Act in 2009 that were tied requirements to maintain Medicaid coverage. Only one state cut health insurance for children in 2010 (Arizona), while only two (Arizona and New Jersey) cut health services for low-income residents.

Constructing Buildings and Building Careers: How Local Governments in Los Angeles are Creating Real Career Pathways for Local Residents - This report by the Partnership for Working Families looks at three case studies in the Los Angeles area that show that effective implementation of community workforce agreements — negotiated, legally binding agreements signed by a local government unit, unions, and the general contractor — creates career opportunities for low income workers. The agreements, binding as well across sub-contractors, provide for prevailing wages, benefits and training access for workers on the job, conflict and dispute resolution mechanisms, workplace safety, and outlines of hiring practices.  The study found that they put a significant number of local residents to work, have a proven record of retaining those workers, and lifted up wages for those workers, creating middle-class career paths.

Smart Cities Prevail - This new web resource provides messaging and aggregates a variety of resources on the benefits of prevailing wage standards for public construction and contracting projects.  It also puts a human face to the issue by showcasing personal stories of workers, contractors, and elected officials that illustrate how prevailing wages change lives, strengthen families, generate high-quality construction standards, and bolster local economies.

44 Million U.S. Workers Lacked Paid Sick Days in 2010 - This fact sheet from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows that 42% of private sector workers lack access to paid sick leave – 4.2 million more workers than previously estimated – and fully 77% of food service workers lack access to a single paid sick day.  IWPR corrected original estimates by taking into account workers who are not eligible to access sick leave benefits because they haven’t worked for their employer long enough.