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DISPATCH: How States Can Avoid Further Cuts, Fighting Right-Wing Overreach at the Ballot Box, and Cracking Down on Wage Violations

View this email online at http://www.progressivestates.org/pubs/stateside-dispatch/2011-09-22

Looking to Avoid Further Cuts to Jobs, States Scrutinize Tax Expenditures

Tax and Budget Reform   *   Ben Secord

 

Most states have hundreds of tax expenditures on their books, ranging from tax credits to reduce poverty to exemptions benefiting homeowners to business subsidies. Some of these expenditures, like a sales tax exemption on groceries, have a broad social benefit and enjoy widespread public support. Yet the benefits of others, which are often created for specific companies or industry sectors while purportedly incentivizing local economic growth or job creation, are less clear. Many states have exemptions and credits that are decades old and in some cases outdated or underperforming, with no laws  in place to review them and assess their actual impact in local communities. However, another year of severe revenue shortages and deep budget cuts now has many states scrutinizing the true value of these preferential tax treatments.

On the Ballot this November: Right-Wing Overreach in the States

Clean and Fair Elections   *   Cristina Francisco-McGuire

 

Conservative efforts to roll back reforms that benefit working families have hit a major snag – the voting public. Citizens in Ohio and Maine are taking advantage of the ballot initiative process in their states to fight back against right-wing legislation rammed through their statehouses this year that aims more to tilt the 2012 elections rather than actually serve any constituents. As record  numbers of voters in some states sign on to petitions to repeal harmful and politically motivated laws, they are sending a clear message, one both reflected in polling and which is resonating across the country: that they will not allow their states to move backwards by stripping workers and voters of fundamental rights.

Department of Labor Joins States in New Crackdown on Wage Violations

Wage Standards and Workplace Freedom   *   Tim Judson

 

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis last week announced  a new state-federal program to crack down on a form of payroll fraud that has run rampant over the last decade. Absent stronger enforcement of labor standards, employers are going to great lengths to cash in by defrauding their workers and leaving taxpayers with the bill. Just this week, a NYC construction firm has been accused  of using front companies to dodge union contracts. The unions allege the company used low-wage workers to pocket $7 million in wages and benefits from 2007-2011. A much more common and mundane way for employers to pad their bottom lines is by misclassifying employees as independent contractors. Through misclassification, companies can simultaneously defraud workers of minimum wage and overtime and dodge a variety of state and federal taxes: payroll, income, unemployment insurance, and workers compensation. Prosecuting the practice, and deterring employers from engaging in it, is both a vital way to protect working families’ economic security and an important measure to alleviate state and federal revenue crises.

Quote Of The Week

 

 

“It’s a lie. It’s not true. It does not exist”

— Royal Masset, former Political Director of the Republican Party of Texas, on the myth of in-person voter fraud that has been used to justify a multi-state attack on voting rights through Voter ID bills.

Steps Forward

 

US: HHS Offers States Even More Flexibility To Establish Health Reform’s Exchanges

RI: Panel to recommend tuition equity for undocumented students

CA: California Legislature Passes Bill to Study State-owned Bank


Steps Back

 

MI: State may make further cuts to unemployment insurance benefits

FL: Anti-immigrant legislation could pop up again in 2012 session

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Research Roundup: Analysing Revenue Proposals in Obama's Jobs Bill, "Right-to-Work" Not the Answer, Potential Cuts to Health Care and More

 

In this week’s Research Roundup: Resources from the Economic Policy Institute on how “right-to-work” is the wrong answer for Michigan’s economy, PHI PolicyWorks on state-by-state profiles of the fast-growing direct-care workforce, Citizens for Tax Justice on the revenue provisions in President Obama’s jobs bill, Families USA on potential cuts to health care emerging from the deficit reduction debate in Congress, the National Employment Law Center on further cuts to unemployment insurance in Michigan, and the Center for Economic and Policy Research on the effect of temporary tax cuts as economic stimulus.

‘Right to work’: The wrong answer for Michigan’s economy — The Economic Policy Institute released this analysis highlighting how so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) restrictions on the ability of employers and unions to negotiate do not boost job growth in states where they have become law, but rather lower wages and reduce benefits for union and non-union workers alike. The paper warns Michigan not to go down this economically destructive route, noting how RTW laws have no impact on the performance of state economies, citing the fact that “7 of the 10 highest-unemployment states are states with RTW laws.” The author, political economist Gordon Lafer, notes that Michigan’s proposed RTW law could have a significantly negative effect on Michigan’s economy.

PHI State Data CenterPHI PolicyWorks has published this website, the “first web-based tool to provide comprehensive, state-by-state profiles of the direct-care workforce” — including nursing aides, home health aides, and personal care aides — which is the largest and fastest-growing workforce in the nation. The State Data Center allows users to access information for monitoring key vital signs of their direct-care workforces, including size and projected employment growth, trends in wages for each direct-care occupation, information on health insurance coverage rates and reliance on public assistance, and legislative developments, notable initiatives, best practices, and state-specific resources related to states’ direct-care workforces.

Revenue Provisions in the President's Jobs Bill— This brief by Citizens for Tax Justice closely examines the revenue provisions in the American Jobs Act, highlighting how “the vast majority of the revenue would be raised by the provision to limit the value of tax deductions and exclusions for high-income people” — with tax reforms targeting those who have not paid their fair share, including the wealthy, investment fund managers, and oil and gas companies.

A Message to Congress and the Super Committee: “Don’t Just Cut Programs — Raise Revenues” — This release from Families USA highlights the need to include increased revenues as the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction (the so-called Congressional Supercommitee) begins their discussions considering cuts to health care. The two specific messages communicated in the brief are that Medicaid must not be cut, and that “at least half of [the commtitee’s] deficit reduction must come from steps to increase revenue.”

Coming Back for More: Michigan Lawmakers Aim to Cut Unemployment Insurance for Second Time in Six Months — This report from the National Employment Law Project warns against further devastating cuts to unemployment insurance (UI) in Michigan, noting the potential dismantlement of the state’s UI system that could result. The piece goes into detail about proposals being floated that could “further erode UI benefits by altering the formula used to determine weekly benefit amounts and by preventing other unemployed workers from receiving benefits.”

Do Tax Cuts Boost the Economy? — This brief authored by David Rosnick and Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research examines the effect of temporary tax cuts as economic stimulus. Countering an analysis by Stanford Economics Professor John Taylor, an Under Secretary of the Treasury under President Bush, the authors conclude that the uncertain effects of such tax cuts “points to the importance of domestic government expenditures as stimulus.”

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:

Devin Boerm, Health Policy Specialist
Cristina Francisco-McGuire, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Tim Judson, Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Suman Raghunathan, Immigration 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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