Conf Call: Effective Messaging for Public Services and the Role of State Government
Tuesday, September 21 at 1pm Eastern
Join Progressive States Network for a national conference call for legislators and advocates from around the country about effective messaging on public services and the crucial role state governments play in communities and the day to day lives of citizens. The conference will be held on Tuesday, September 21 at 1pm Eastern.
To receive call-in and follow-up information, please RSVP here.
Christy Davis, Strategic Communications Consultant for SEIU’s Public Service Division
Even Colorado GOP Rejecting Reckless Revenue-Slashing Initiatives
This November, Coloradans will consider three extreme ballot measures, Amendments 60, 61, and Proposition 101, dubbed the "Bad 3." After the failed TABOR experiment, even conservatives now understand that Colorado can ill afford more reckless tax-cutting measures that will harm the economy, shred public services, and threaten Colorado families.
Private Employers Project Cuts in Paid Leave, Highlighting Need For Legislative Action
Family-friendly workplace policies like paid sick days are among the lowest cost benefits employers can offer. Yet, without legislative action, the recession will result in fewer workers able to balance the demands of work and family.
This November, Coloradans will consider three extreme ballot measures, Amendments 60, 61, and Proposition 101, dubbed the "Bad 3." Conceived by notorious anti-government advocate Doug Bruce and billed as tax relief, these proposals would actually threaten the economy and decimate budgets at the state and local level, leaving Colorado with limited ability to invest in communities or necessary public structures.
The recklessness of the initiatives is clear:
Amendment 60 would require school districts to cut property taxes in half by 2020, void previous elections that retained property tax revenues above TABOR limits, and force the state to fill the gap in school funding.
Amendment 61 would prohibit any state debt financing and place a limit on local bonds for school, fire, and hospital construction.
Finally, Proposition 101 would cut state income taxes to 3.5 percent and cap certain fees.
Republicans Denounce Tax Cuts: Progressives have fought diligently to oppose these "backward-thinking" and fiscally irresponsible initiatives. Organizations, such as ProgressNow Colorado, the Colorado Progressive Coalition, the Bell Policy Center, the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, and countless others have expressed their opposition. In addition, numerous state and local officials, county boards, and small businesses have come out against Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101.
What's notable is that several conservative lawmakers have also refused to support them. As reported in the Denver Post, 23 of 27 GOP lawmakers in the state House and 5 of 14 GOP state senators have signed a letter stating that these measures are "so far overreaching that it will ultimately kill Colorado jobs and strip local governments' ability to provide police and fire protection and to educate our children." Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, who sits on the state's Joint Budget Committee, argued:
Those (initiatives) are actually more anarchy than they are fiscally conservative. If those pass, I have no idea what we will do.
Measures Could Cost 73,000 Jobs: In the 2010 Blue Book, the nonpartisan Colorado Legislative Council finds that, if approved, "the measures are estimated to reduce state taxes and fees by $2.1 billion and... would commit almost all of the state's general operating budget to paying for... K-12 education, leaving little for other government services. In addition, the prohibition on borrowing will increase budget pressures." On top of that, the proposals would cause the state to lose 73,000 jobs, mainly in transportation, health care, and construction, and lead to a cumulative state and local deficit of $4.2 billion.
Avoiding Another TABOR: Colorado has had a damaging experience with tax-limiting proposals. In 1992, Colorado approved TABOR (The "Taxpayer Bill of Rights"), which imposes a rigid straitjacket on a state's ability to generate revenue. The repercussions included large declines in K-12 and higher education funding, increased tuition rates, the elimination of an affordable housing loan and grant program, and an exponential rise in the the number of children and adults who lacked health insurance. Voters partially repudiated TABOR at the ballot box in 2005, yet TABOR's heinous legacy has left its mark on the state.
Even conservatives now understand that Colorado can ill afford another reckless tax-cutting experiment that will harm the economy, shred public services, and threaten Colorado families.
Family-friendly workplace policies like paid sick days are among the lowest cost benefits employers can offer. Yet, without legislative action, the recession will result in fewer workers able to balance the demands of work and family. So shows an annual report on employee benefit programs released this week by the Society for Human Resource Professionals (SHRM).
Human resources professionals surveyed by SHRM reported that, on average, paid time off benefits amount to 11% of employers’ total payroll costs. However, paid time off includes not just vacation, sick, and personal time, but a myriad of other benefits, from bereavement leave to paid time for volunteering. Paid sick and maternity/paternity leave, then, amount to very small shares of total payroll costs. As a result, these basic benefits necessary for work-family balance have been among the least touched by the recession thus far.
Projected Cuts in Paid Leave Programs: On the flip side, it is clear that workers who currently have paid leave benefits will begin losing them, even at organizations like those that participated in the SHRM survey, which invest in human resources and benefit packages. While there was a small net increase (2%) in the number of employers providing paid leave this year, there will actually be a net decrease in 2011: 3% of employers indicated they intend to cut their paid sick leave or PTO program in the next twelve months, and no employers that do not currently offer the benefit intend to start doing so.
Compellingly, it appears that organizational philosophy has more bearing on whether an employer provides paid sick leave than business finances. The percentage of employers surveyed that offer the benefit is essentially constant among small, medium, and large employers, ranging from 82-84%. Also, non-profits surveyed provide paid sick days more frequently (91%) than for-profit employers (78% for privately-held companies and 84% for publicly-traded companies) – despite the fact that non-profits operate on even tighter margins and experience similar uncertainty in their revenue sources during the recession, as well as increasing demand for their services.
Note: Nationally, as surveys of the general public reveal, only 61% of workers enjoy paid sick leave benefits. The prevalence of the benefit is naturally higher among the organizations surveyed by SHRM than in the nation as a whole, both because it represents percentages of employers that offer the benefit rather than the percentage of workers who have access to it, and because organizations with human resources staff (ie, those that were surveyed) are more likely to offer voluntary benefit plans.
Need for Legislative Action: The report’s findings underscore the need for states to establish work-family balance policies, such as paid sick days and paid family leave, as a new set of labor standards that protect workers’ job security and their families’ financial stability. For instance, by requiring employers to provide paid sick days, states can remove one competitive barrier between responsible businesses that already meet the standard and low-road employers that opt not to do so. And by establishing paid family leave insurance programs, as California and New Jersey have, states can help level the playing field between employers by taking some costs off their books almost entirely.
More reports debunking myths of overpaid public employees:
Debunking the Myth of the Overcompensated Public Employee - This Economic Policy Institute analysis demonstrates that state and local public employees are under compensated. On average, state and local government workers receive 3.75 percent less compensation than comparable private sector employees. On top of that, the benefits public employees receive do not offset the lower wage rate.
The Wage Penalty for State and Local Government Employees in New England - In New England, when age and education are factored in, state and local workers actually earn less, on average, than their private-sector counterparts, according to this study by the Center on Economic Policy Research and the Political Economy Research Institute. And while while state and local workers on average receive more higher non-wage benefits than private-sector workers, the difference only reduces the wage penalty for the average state and local government worker but do not offset the lower base pay.
From Poverty to Prosperity - With new data likely to show spikes in poverty levels due to the recession, Demos Public Works has worked with anti-poverty advocates to create a new resource to help advocates create a new narrative in our country about the causes of poverty and the ways we can help build prosperity in our communities. The goal is to help communicators avoid unproductive approaches that misdirect and “trap” audiences into unproductive thinking and instead evoke the ways we are connected to one another and can use government to help shape an economy to meet common goals.
Cutting State Corporate Income Taxes Is Unlikely to Create Many Jobs - Noting the importance of state corporate income taxes to funding needed public services and infrastructure critical to long-term economic growth, this report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities details how proposals to cut corporate tax rates are unlikely to help economic or job growth.
“Made in NY” a High-Value Label - Highlighting the continuing importance of manufacturing in state economies, this Rockefeller Institute report finds that products made in New York generate comparatively high levels of wages and spin-off economic activity. In economic terms, the wealth created and added to the economy through manufacturing processes represented 52.7 percent of the total value of products shipped from New York in 2008.
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