Facing another round of deep cuts to health care and education as a result of ongoing revenue shortages caused by the slow economic recovery, and on the heels of a new national survey reporting that most state budgets have now seen spending fall below pre-recession levels, some states are signaling that they will be pursuing more balanced approaches to their budget troubles in 2012 than they have in previous years.
This week, as the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) convened its annual States & Nation Policy Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona, labor, civil rights, and activist groups took advantage of the opportunity to highlight ALEC’s role in advancing conservative legislation on everything from voter ID to SB 1070 copycat bills. National groups such as Common Cause and MoveOn joined the state AFL-CIO, Occupy Phoenix, and others to plan five days’ worth of events during the duration of the conference to highlight the detrimental effects that ALEC-backed policies have had on the economic security of families in both Arizona and states across the country — and to warn about elements of their destructive agenda may be introduced in coming legislative sessions.
Research Roundup: States Recoup Lost Revenue, Resegregation in Southern Politics, and More
In this week’s Research Roundup: Reports from the National Employment Law Project on how states are recouping millions in lost revenue by cracking down on employee misclassification, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies on the resegregating of politics in the South, the Center for Working Families on exactly how many New York state taxpayers are affected by the Millionaires’ Tax, the Economic Policy Institute on state jobs data and the evidence on the effect of regulations on job growth, and the New England Journal of Medicine on the effect that the 2012 elections may have on the Affordable Care Act and health care.
Summary of Independent Contractor Reforms: New State and Federal Activity — This updated report by the National Employment Law Project finds that states are recouping millions in lost revenue by cracking down on employee misclassification, a pernicious form of payroll fraud in which employers mischaracterize workers as independent contractors. Massachusetts recovered $6.5 million in unpaid taxes and penalties through its enforcement efforts, and New York identified over 18,000 instances of misclassification, involving $314 million in unreported wages and $10.5 million in unemployment taxes. The report also points to recent legislative activity and model policies and practices to help states root out payroll fraud.
Resegregation in Southern Politics? — This report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies examines the evidence indicating how, three years following the election of President Obama, politics is resegregating in the South. Author David A. Bositis, Ph. D. describes how African Americans have been "once again excluded from power and representation," concluding that black voters and elected officials "have less influence now than at any time since the civil rights era." The report notes that conservatives now in power through much of the South are doing their part to advance policies that are "neglectful of the needs of African Americans and other communities of color" in areas including health care, education, and criminal justice policy, as well as launching assaults on voting rights through efforts to require photo ID at the polls.
Who Pays the Millionaires Tax? — As the Millionaires’ Tax remains a hotly debated policy in New York state, this analysis by the Center for Working Families calculates the percentage of taxpayers in each state legislative district who actually pay the surtax on incomes over $250,000 — a tax which is set to expire on December 31, 2011.
State jobs data calls for ‘super shift’ to job creation — This brief by Doug Hall at the Economic Policy Institute with accompanying interactive maps highlights the problems posed by continuing unemployment in the states, and urges that Congress shift to job creation measures following the failure of the Congressional “Supercommittee” to achieve agreement on deficit reduction measures. October’s employment data shows Nevada leading the nation in unemployment with a rate of 13.4%, with California not far behind at 11.7%. In all, and 19 states and the District of Columbia continue have unemployment rates of 9% or higher.
A quick guide to the evidence on regulations and jobs — With debate continuing to center on the role of government regulation in creating or hindering job growth, this paper authored by the Economic Policy Center’s Isaac Shapiro points to three reports produced over the past year on the effect of regulation on the economy and jobs. The paper underscores how despite conservative protestations that regulatory uncertainty is hindering the economy, it is a shortfall in demand that continues to be the main culprit behind the lackluster recovery. In addition, the paper references reports this year that highlighted how environmental regulations from the EPA have ”a negligible effect” on the overall economy, with some proposed regulation even creating jobs, and how in general regulations have a “modestly positive or neutral effect on employment.” The guide concludes that "certain sensible regulations are essential to the national economy, and thereby to a healthy national labor market."
2012 — A Watershed Election for Health Care — This New England Journal of Medicine article authored by David Blumenthal, M.D. previews three potential federal electoral outcomes in 2012 and the effect each possible outcome may have on the future of health care reform for American families. It highlights which elements and provisions of the Affordable Care Act are likely to be proceed or to be endangered under each scenario, providing a collection of possible roadmaps for policymakers while also underscoring the critical stakes of the election next November for health reform.
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