Last week capped the end of what was undoubtedly one of the darkest months for working people in decades, with Ohio Governor John Kasich signing the notorious Senate Bill 5 – stripping public sector workers of their collective bargaining rights – and similar measures advancing in New Hampshire and Oklahoma, and attacks on teachers moving forward in Idaho and Tennessee. At the same time, legislators in Maine opened up another front in the assault on workers’ rights in their state by introducing a bill aimed at gutting one of the most fundamental and cherished labor standards in the country: our child labor laws.
As the prospect of a federal government shutdown looms in Washington D.C., states are nervously preparing for the impact it could have on their already strapped budgets and their fragile economic recoveries. While it would take a more protracted shutdown to threaten federal funding for the administration of major programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Program, a shorter shutdown period could still wreak havoc for states already scrambling to stay afloat.
Several elected officials across the states have approached budget shortfalls with extremely short-sighted and economically damaging proposals, including lavish tax breaks for corporations, slashing unemployment benefits, heinous cuts to programs that primarily benefit middle class and working families, eliminating earned income tax credit (EITC) programs, and privatizing services and institutions across the board, such as mental health services, prisons, and infrastructure. By peddling baseless and debunked right-wing measures, these very same officials refuse to consider sensible, practical, and progressive alternatives to alleviating fiscal woes, despite overwhelming public support for such measures.
In this week's Research Roundup from PSN: Recent reports from the Center for American Progress Action Fund on the central role of the multi-billionaire Koch brothers in funding the right wing movement in the states and on the critical role that unions have played in creating and sustaining the American middle class; the Economic Policy Institute on the thirty-year trend of stagnating wages in the private sector, the increasingly dramatic gap between the super-wealthy and the rest of Americans following the Great Recession, and the continuing importance of pursuing expansionary fiscal policy in the states; the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on state-by-state figures showing the numbers of workers with access and without access to Paid Sick Days; the National Employment Law Project on the case for reforming criminal background checks for employment; and more.
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Progressive States Network works to build a network of progressive legislators, grassroots advocates, progressive policy institutions, unions and community groups to move progressive policy and transform the political debate across the fifty states."