Moving Forward: Progressive Opportunity In A Changed Landscape
Last week 's election results were certainly a setback to all who work for reasonable, reality-based solutions to the many challenges our states currently face. At a moment when state budgets are historically strained, when jobs and critical public services are under sustained attack by the Right Wing, and when lawmakers are about to begin the decennial process of redrawing the political map, nineteen state legislative chambers switched from Democratic to Republican control and hundreds of incumbents were lost to a national right-wing wave fueled almost exclusively by voter anger at the state of the economy.
Yet an honest survey of the post-election landscape across the states also reveals real opportunities for progressives to effect change, both by continuing to stand up for families in our communities and by continuing to build the progressive movement in all fifty states.
In states like California, Connecticut, and Hawaii, lawmakers working with newly elected governors can move forward on a number of progressive priorities that have been bottled up in previous years. In other states with newly divided governments, lawmakers can continue to frame the debate and persuade colleagues of the wisdom of progressive policies to help families and spur economic growth. And in states where progressives now have a smaller voice in state government, lawmakers can make it crystal clear who is to blame when destructive right-wing social and economic policies are unilaterally enacted and - inevitably - fail.
When Progressive States Network was founded five years ago, the national political landscape seemed bleak then too. That was exactly why advocates, activists, and legislators across the nation realized the crucial importance of networking the national progressive movement in the states. Since our founding, Progressive States Network has helped to provide strategic support, research, and advocacy tools to state legislators and their staffs, empowering them to effect change by getting forward-thinking policy passed into law and by changing the way issues are debated in the states.
Now more than ever, state lawmakers are critical in this fight. Progressive States Network stands ready and able to support legislators - whether in a majority or a minority - by continuing our collaborative efforts to build the 50-state progressive movement based on our shared values of rewarding work, helping families, promoting justice, growing the economy, and increasing democracy. We are eager and excited to continue this work in the months and years ahead.
In the wake of last week's results, progressives must continue to pursue policies to promote economic growth and equity, address revenue shortfalls through sound tax reform, alleviate the burden on working families, and support public programs. This is especially necessary as conservatives in legislatures and governor's seats are promising a slew of heinous cuts to state programs and several other fiscally irresponsible proposals.
Last week's midterm elections heralds the possibility of a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping many statehouses, and underscores the need for common-sense, progressive state immigration policy that expands opportunity for all residents, immigrant and native-born alike, and welcomes immigrant contributions to state and local economies and communities.
Access to affordable communication services is a critical issue for low-income and rural communities, and progressive state legislators have an opportunity to level the playing field. In a moment where access to telecommunications is crucial to our economic survival, states must ensure that they call on those who have the responsibility to level the playing field for all.
As newly-elected Republican officials - like incoming Secretaries of State in Kansas and Iowa - prepare to follow through on their promises to enact photo ID requirements, and as other legislatures prepare for debate on burdensome voter photo ID requirements, it is more important than ever to push progressive election reforms that will increase turnout to counterbalance the effects of such harmful legislation.
Enhancing State Clean Energy Workforce Training to Meet Demand: This National Governors Association paper describes state efforts that have emerged thanks to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The study confirms that state policy is a key factor in driving the demand for investment and the creation of green jobs. It also points out that states with aggressive green energy programs are under an urgent need for workforce development. To this end, it proposes five initiatives: (1) developing statewide curricular and certification programs with community colleges; (2) coordinating state, local and private sector workforce training efforts; (3) improving access to available training; (4) using data to assist clean energy workforce development; and (5) leveraging private sector funding to build larger, long-term training programs.
Exploring the Digital Nation: Home Broadband Internet Adoption in the United States: This report by the Economics and Statistics Administration and the Department of Commerce 's National Telecommunications and Information Administration expands upon the findings of the NTIA February 2010 study. It confirms that people of color, rural residents, disabled persons, and low-income households are least likely to adopt to broadband. The report recognizes that although broadband adoption has grown exponentially over the past nine years, the digital divide persists among the groups listed above. The surveyed non-adopters explained that they do not subscribe to broadband because services are too costly, they lack interest, they lack an adequate computer, and there are no available broadband services. The significance of these factors, however, varied across non-users, with affordability and demand generally dominating. Importantly, the study finds that certain groups in the population have lower adoption rates even after taking account of differences that typically affect broadband usage. This is case between low-income and high-income households after controlling variables in education, age, race and ethnicity, and geographic location. The same goes for whites versus African American and Latinos, after controlling for household characteristics, and for urban versus rural residents.
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Progressive States Network works to build a network of progressive legislators, grassroots advocates, progressive policy
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