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Dispatch: Corporations Cheer No-Tax Day, Citizens Unite Against Citizens United, Attacks On Teachers Hurt Economy, and Legislato

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As Tax Day Approaches, Corporations Paying Less and Less

Tax and Budget Reform   *   Altaf Rahamatulla

At the end of March, the New York Times published an explosive story finding that General Electric (G.E.), the nation's largest company which reported $5.1 billion in profit last year from operations in the U.S., would not pay a dime in federal taxes. Similarly, ExxonMobil posted profits exceeding $45 billion last year, but as a result of aggressive tax avoidance strategies, paid no federal income tax in 2009. Almost as shockingly, in a 2008 report, the Government Accountability Office discovered that two out of every three U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005.

These stories mirror a general trend at both the state and federal level that will be on the minds of many taxpayers as they send in their returns this week: at the same time that income inequality, joblessness, and the economic insecurity of the middle class has grown, corporations have been contributing less and less of their fair share in taxes.

Legislators, Voters Take On Corporate Influence In Elections

Clean and Fair Elections   *   Cristina Francisco-McGuire

In recent weeks, state legislatures and voters alike have continued to push back against last year's Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which took away the power of government to limit independent spending in elections and effectively overturned laws in 24 states that banned independent political expenditures from corporations and/or unions. In addition to legislative initiatives requiring shareholder approval of corporate political spending or expanding disclosure requirements for independent expenditures, two other tactics to limit the damage of Citizens United are also quickly gaining momentum: local referenda supporting an anti-corporate personhood amendment to the U.S. Constitution and shareholder resolutions urging corporations to adopt political accountability.

Attacks on Teachers Undermine Economic Recovery, Growth

Wage Standards and Workplace Freedom   *   Tim Judson

Public education and child advocates in Texas have found an uncommon ally in this year’s budget debates: the Texas Association of Business (TAB), the largest business advocate in the state. A budget bill passed by the Texas House of Representatives on April 4 included dramatic cuts to education, providing $8 billion less funding than state law requires. Among the most austere provisions is the complete elimination of state funding for pre-kindergarten programs. TAB published a report  making the case that quality public education is vital for the state’s economy, and that pre-kindergarten programs in particular actually help contain education costs in the short term. Association president Bill Hammond said, "If we don't have an educated workforce, the jobs will leave. We are not meeting the needs of the future."  The unity of business and public education advocates in a state such as Texas is also a bellwether for debates on schools and teachers in other states.

Legislators Voice Support For Health Law in Court

Health Care for All   *   Devin Boerm

This past week, 154 legislators from 26 states joined together to send a message  to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals now considering a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act: that the framers of the Constitution themselves would have supported the law, and that they will not sit idle while the health security of their constituents is endangered by continuing partisan political attacks against legislation from the right wing.  The legislators’ amicus brief  supports the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, arguing that the district court ruling was “based on a fundamentally flawed vision of the constitutional role of our federal government and its partnership with the States – a vision that contradicts the original meaning of our Founding charter.”

Steps Forward

CA: Governor Signs Legislation Requiring State To Get One Third Of Energy From Renewable Sources by 2020

NJ: Senator proposes restoring earned income tax credit for working poor to previous level

US: Fed penalizes 10 banks on mortgage practices


Steps Back

US: State Legislators for Legal Immigration push divisive, anti-immigrant policies

NM: Senators criticize Gov. Martinez vetoes on health exchange, more ‎

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Research Roundup: Viable Revenue Options, Voting Rights Under Attack, Measuring Immigration Enforcement Policies and More

In this week’s PSN Research Roundup:

A progressive alternative to the draconian House Republican budget proposal authored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus; two reports on meaningful revenue-generation options to address deficits at the federal and state level by the Center for American Progress and the Oklahoma Policy Institute; a research memo on the demographics of new voters in the 2008 presidential election by Project Vote; a report on the largest effort to scale back voting rights since Reconstruction by the Advancement Project; a policy brief by the Institute for Policy Studies on the growing level of income inequality and accompanying decline in corporate tax liability; an analysis of the job losses that will be caused by Ohio Gov. Kasich’s “jobs budget” by Innovation Ohio; a Drum Major Institute report on the fiscal, administrative, public safety and civic costs that cities incur as they assume increased responsibility for immigration enforcement; and the second annual progress report for the Department of Homeland Security by the Immigration Policy Center.

The People’s Budget – This progressive alternative to the conservative cut- and tax-break filled budget moving through the House of Representatives was released by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The People’s Budget would eliminate deficits and create a surplus by 2021 through an extensive jobs program, addressing the historic levels of income inequality, ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and protecting the social safety net.

The First Step: A Progressive Plan for Meaningful Deficit Reduction – This report by the Center for American Progress offers a menu of options for addressing the long term federal budget deficit that promise to generate $255 billion in new revenue. These include implementing a surtax on income for those making more than $500,000 per year; imposing a $10 per barrel fee on imported oil, returning the estate tax to pre-Bush tax cut levels, removing the cap on the employer side of the Social Security tax, indexing the entire tax code to a better measure of inflation, increasing the top rate on capital gains and dividends, and increasing income tax rates on tax brackets between $140,000 and $380,000.

First-Time Voters in the 2008 Election - In a new research memo from Project Vote, author Lori Minnite examines changes in the composition and preferences of new voters from 2004 to 2008. Minnite finds not only a significant increase in black and Latino first-time voters over 2004, but a major shift along class lines as well. According to the memo, “First-time voting among the lowest income group, those with annual family income of $15,000 a year or less, nearly doubled in proportion among all voters in this income category, from 18 percent in 2004, to 34 percent in 2008.”

What’s Wrong With This Picture? New Photo ID Proposals Part of a National Push to Turn Back the Clock on Voting Rights - The Advancement Project released this report last week analyzing voter ID proposals that have been introduced in the states this year, as well as how such initiatives fit in with broader voter suppression efforts targeted toward minority and other vulnerable populations - the report finds that voter ID bills are part of the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights since Reconstruction. The comprehensive report includes disenfranchisement statistics, research on the infrequency of voter fraud, fiscal analysis, and other resources.

Unnecessary Austerity, Unnecessary Shutdown – The Institute for Policy Studies released this policy brief that examines the growing levels of income inequality in the country as well as the decline in corporate tax liability. The authors find, “we have indeed become wealthier than ever. But our wealth has become incredibly more concentrated at our economic summit. U.S. income is cascading disproportionately to the top...we are taxing the dollars that go to our ever-richer rich at levels far below the tax rates that America levied just a few decades ago. We have, in effect, shifted our tax burden off the shoulders of those most able to bear it and away from those who disproportionately benefit from government investments the most.”

Protecting Core Services – The Oklahoma Policy Institute highlights several progressive revenue options, including limiting itemized deductions and enacting combined reporting, that state lawmakers should consider in order to protect vital services and public structures in anticipation of upcoming shortfalls.

Direct Job Loss from cuts in the Kasich ‘Jobs Budget’Innovation Ohio recently published this report, estimating that the severe cuts to K-12 education, higher education, state personnel, and local governments in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposals will result in the loss of 51,052 jobs. The authors conclude, “the Kasich ‘Job Budgets’ will reverse the job growth that Ohio has experienced, potentially take Ohio back to June 2010 levels of unemployment, and jeopardize the state’s still-fragile economic recovery.”

The Cost of Failure: The Burden of Immigration Enforcement in America's Cities – The Drum Major Institute just released a new report exploring the fiscal, administrative, public safety and civic costs that cities incur as they assume increased responsibility for immigration enforcement. The report finds that while the vast majority of Americans believe that the nation’s immigration system needs to be reformed, the current laws are being enforced more rigorously than ever – and fiscally strapped cities are bearing too much of the cost.

Second Annual DHS Progress Report – The Immigration Policy Center recently released their second annual review of the Department of Homeland Security, evaluating whether the promises of 2009 were met and examining new problems and solutions that have arisen in immigration enforcement and implementation.

Scholars’ Roundtable: the Effects of Expanding Broadband to Rural Areas - This paper is a representation of a forum conversation that occurred in December and January of 2009-2010, where leading experts responded to questions regarding broadband investment in the United States, especially with respect to rural regions. Panelists agreed that more investment in broadband deployment in rural regions is needed in order to increase competition and shift prices down.  The paper also emphasizes that we must go beyond looking at simple short-term job impacts to widen opportunities in rural America.  When it comes to broadband, we cannot think of it solely as a job creator since that value oversimplifies the developmental impact of the introduction of a new technology capability. Access, adoption, and utilization of broadband in rural communities requires multiple strategies: connecting libraries, schools, and hospitals, making broadband affordable by allowing alternative providers like local governments and non-profits to deploy broadband, and driving demand also by instituting digital literacy.

Please email us leads on good research at research@progressivestates.org

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The Stateside Dispatch is edited by:

Charles Monaco, Press and New Media Specialist

Contributors to the Dispatch include:

Nora Ranney, Legislative Director
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Director
Devin Boerm, Health Policy Specialist
Fabiola Carrión, Broadband and Green Jobs Policy Specialist
Cristina Francisco-McGuire, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Tim Judson, Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Suman Raghunathan, Immigration Policy Specialist
Altaf Rahamatulla, Tax and Budget Policy Specialist
Mike Maiorini, Online Technology Manager
Ben Secord, Outreach Specialist

Please send us an email at dispatch@progressivestates.org if you have feedback, tips, suggestions, criticisms,or nominations for any of our sidebar features.

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