Today 4pm EDT: Conference Call: Empowering Communities Through Broadband
As states continue to recover from the worst economic downturn in decades, our economic security depends on investing in 21st century infrastructure and putting Americans back to work. Yet, despite this, conservatives continue to fight against investments in the very areas where our communities need them the most. Today, March 31st, at 4pm EDT, Progressive States Network invites you to join policy experts to discuss successful models to empower our communities through broadband. RSVP here to receive call-in information.
Corporate-backed legislators and governors are sacrificing their future political prospects as they ram through increasingly unpopular bills attacking the middle class and economic security. While the greatest attention has focused on the dramatic story that is still unfolding in Wisconsin, equally important fights are going on across the country. In case after case, polls show public approval ratings plummeting for elected officials pushing legislation that scapegoats public sector workers and collective bargaining rights for their states’ fiscal problems. While some of these officials are moving to moderate their course to save themselves, others are pressing forward with a zeal that is likely to cost them politically.
In recent weeks, public workers have been targeted in states across the nation by a corporate-funded, national right wing movement seeking to capitalize on the effects of the economic downturn on state budgets by stripping workers of many hard-won rights, including the right to collectively bargain. Now, the same groups who have campaigned to demonize public workers are deploying a new tactic to intimidate those who dare speak out in support of the middle class: broad and politically motivated Freedom of Information Requests seeking the personal emails of professors and other employees at public academic institutions.
In early March, New Mexico progressives achieved a notable victory after the state legislature approved SB47, a bill to develop an annual tax expenditure budget, to accurately assess how much the state spends on tax breaks for various industries and companies. The bill's movement is complimented by heightened legislative momentum around accountability across the states. Such reforms, including increasing disclosure of state spending on subsidies, contracts, and corporate tax breaks, are especially necessary considering the bleak fiscal and economic circumstances states continue to confront.
Research Roundup: Federal Immigration Program Mainly Nets Low-Level Criminals, The GOP Takes Its War on Women to the States, and Slashing Subsidies, Bolstering Budgets
Federal Immigration Program Mainly Nets Low-Level Criminals – Of the hundreds of counties in the U.S. participating in the rapidly expanding federal “Secure Communities” program designed to catch and deport immigrants who are dangerous criminals, Arizona’s Maricopa County leads the nation in both the number of immigrants arrested and the number deported. But as this Arizona Republic analysis of the 2-year old program concludes, the majority of the immigrants caught in the county and deported through “Secure Communities” – 66 percent – are in fact either low-level criminals or have no criminal record at all.
The GOP Takes Its War on Women to the States – This report by People for the American Way describes in detail the vast assault on women’s reproductive rights taking place in the states this legislative session. The bills being advanced across the nation include ultrasound requirements, biased counseling, targeted restrictions on abortion providers, “personhood” laws, the legalized murder of abortion providers, and more. As the report notes, these “new and dangerous laws emerging from the states put women’s healthcare and reproductive freedom at grave risk.”
Slashing Subsidies, Bolstering Budgets – As public employees and critical public services find themselves the targets of choice for many state legislatures facing budget shortfalls, this Good Jobs First report highlights how targeting wasteful corporate subsidies and economic development programs can save states billions of dollars. As examples, the authors highlight ten ineffective state programs that, added together, cost $2.8 billion and which could be targeted for elimination or scaled back – programs which have not succeeded in creating or retaining jobs, aid large corporations while shortchanging small businesses, and are subject to little accountability.
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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."