Research Roundup: Paid Sick Days, Teacher Pay and Boondoggles Exposed

In this week’s PSN Research Roundup:
Reports by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on the devastating impact that would result from proposed cuts to the WIC nutrition program, the Economic Opportunity Institute on how the social and economic implications of paid sick days for Seattle, WISPIRG on wasteful spending on infrastructure projects going to some of Gov. Walkers’ biggest campaign contributors in Wisconsin, the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts on the minimal effect of state taxes on migration, and the Center for American Progress on the unequal distribution of teacher quality among different communities.

Proposed WIC Cuts Would End Food Assistance for 325,000 to 475,000 Low-Income Women and Children – This report by Center on Budget and Policy Priorities outlines the devastating impact that would result from cuts being proposed by Congressional conservatives to the WIC nutrition program. The summary notes that the proposal is especially striking when compared to right-wing “insistence late last year on extending all of President Bush’s tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest households.”

Evaluating Paid Sick Leave: Social, economic and health implications for Seattle – This study by the Economic Opportunity Institute looks at how paid sick days would affect the Seattle economy and quality of life for residents. It concludes that a paid sick leave policy would reduce the spread of diseases, strengthen childrens’ health, help victims of domestic violence and assault, and increase employee retention and reduce turnover.

Building Boondoggles?WISPIRG released this analysis of new, wasteful highway projects in Wisconsin, and highlights how Governor Scott Walker has financed them by slashing funds that would normally go to paying public workers for repair and maintenance. The highway projects, totalling almost $2 Billion, went to some of the biggest contributors to Gov. Walkers’ campaign. The report urges the state of Wisconsin to avoid wasting taxpayer money on “projects that have not been thoroughly reviewed and justified, especially when other vital transportation services, such as local road repair and transit, are being cut.”

The Impact of Taxes on Migration in New England – This recent paper by Jeff Thompson of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is one of many recent studies of the affect of state income tax rates on interstate migration. As other reports have also concluded, this study of New England states finds that “the available evidence suggests that the impact of taxes on cross-state migration decisions is weak.”

Speaking of Salaries: What It Will Take to Get Qualified, Effective Teachers in All Communities – This report by the Center for American Progress examines the unequal distribution of teacher quality among different communities by looking at data from California and New York. It provides suggestions for ways in which “federal policy can leverage strong steps toward ensuring every child has access to adequate school resources and quality teachers.”

Health Impact Assessment of Paid Sick Days Policy in New Jersey (Summary and Full Report) - This new report by Human Impact Partners shows definitively that what is good for working families is good for business, health care costs, and New Jersey as a whole.  Utilizing state and national data, as well as qualitative research, HIP reports that up to 34% of flu cases would be prevented by sick workers staying home -- potentially saving thousands of lives in the next major pandemic, which could result in 71,000 fatalities.  With one in six workers reporting job loss or punishment for taking a sick day, and workers without sick days substantially more likely to use emergency room care (+15%), delay necessary medical care (+40%), and report to work while sick (+50%), the lack of a paid sick days standard is a major burden on everyone, from     working families to their employers and the broader community of taxpayers.

Coal Mine Safety: Do Unions Make a Difference? - Unionized coal miners suffer substantially lower injury and fatality rates than workers in non-union mines, concludes Stanford Law Professor Alison D. Morantz in this empirical study of coal mine safety data.  Using comprehensive data from 1993-2008, Morantz reports that union miners experience up to 68% fewer fatalities and up to 33% fewer traumatic injuries, particularly in larger coal mine operations.  Alarmingly, the safety benefits to union coal miners has grown since the mid-1990s, affirming that non-union mines are not keeping pace with new regulations and best practices.