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Making Corporations Pay Their Fair Share

Making the Rich Pay their Fair Share on the Ballot in Oregon

In 2009, Oregon lawmakers approved HB 2649 and HB 3405, a balanced approach to dealing with their fiscal problems that included increased taxes on the wealthiest state residents and corporations.  These revenue increases were combined with lowered taxes for people receiving unemployment insurance benefits, offering tax relief to many families. 

Oregon Legislative Session Roundup

The over-riding theme of the legislative session this year was how toresolve a $4 billion budget deficit.  However, unlike many states,Oregon's legislators successfully avoided the worst cuts through fairrevenue generators and spending cuts.  They also continued to pushforward on key issues like the environment, worker's rights, andhealthcare.  On several issues, such as climate change, the governorput forward an agenda to lead the nation and in other areas strongprogressive legislators set out similarly ambitious goals.  In manyinstances compromises tempered the boldness of the final product, butin most cases some real progress was made.

Big Business Already Giving Big to Take Down Oregon Tax Increase

Earlier this year, policymakers in Oregon enacted both temporary and permanent changes in the state’s tax system to help close an enormous budget gap and, by extension, provide funding for vital services like education, health care, and public safety... Yet, due to quirks in Oregon’s legislative process, opponents of these changes have an opportunity to put them before the voters for approval via referendum.  Not surprisingly, representatives of big business and a who’s who of anti-tax organizations are attempting to take full advantage of that opportunity.

Missouri Session Roundup

The Missouri legislature adjourned after delivering approximately 160 bills to Governor Nixon.  

Budget:  The Missouri legislature passed a $23 billion operating budget  for the fiscal year beginning July 1, plus a two-year $600 million capital improvements budget that includes various projects funded with federal stimulus money. Governor Nixon used the line-item veto to cut $22.8 million from the operating budget and $82.2 million from the capital improvement budget.  For specific initiatives vetoed click here.  The Governor also placed on hold an additional $325 million of expenditures since the state faces declining revenues. 

Progressive Revenue Measures Approved or Moving in Oregon and Other States

Oregon became the latest state to address the current fiscal crisis with progressive revenue increases.  This is part of a welcome trend that we highlighted back in April of states recognizing that budget cuts need to be balanced with wealthier state residents being asked to pay their fair share to address the effects of the economic downturn.

Research Roundup: The Economic Crisis: Racial Disparities and Trade Dislocations, Closing Corporate Loopholes, and Much More

The Economic Crisis: Racial Disparities and Trade Dislocations

  • Sounding the Alarm: Update on the Economic Downturn
  • Race and Recession: How Inequity Rigged the Economy and How to Change the Rules 
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance: New Opportunities for Ohio Workers

Closing Corporate Loopholes

Ensuring Effective Teachers for All Students

Parents' Health Care and Paid Sick Leave

  • Making Parents' Health Care a Priority 
  • Contagion Nation: A Comparison of Paid Sick Day Policies in 22 Countries 

Global Warming and Green Jobs

  • Global Warming’s Six Americas 
  • Green Jobs/Green Homes NY: Expanding Home Energy Efficiency and Creating Good Jobs in a Clean-Energy Economy
  • Saving Dollars, Saving Democracy: Cost Savings for Local Election Officials through Voter Registration Modernization 

Electoral Competition and Low Contribution Limits 

States Using Common-Sense Tax Increases to Deal with Budget Deficits

States have traditionally raised taxes in past recessions.  Yet, those states that did raise taxes suffered no drop in annual growth rates compared to states that depended on budget cuts alone during recessions. The reality is that long-term growth is dependent on making common-sense public investments, even and especially during economic downturns.  This is one reason that the states which collect the highest percentage of personal income in taxes actually sustain higher income growth.

Wyoming Legislative Session Roundup

Despite a budget surplus of $257 million, Wyoming lawmakers failed to act substantively on big issues like health care reform, prison reform, and development of a coordinated energy policy, as WyoFile.com reports in its end of session recap.  Still, progressives made important gains in workers' compensation, health insurance regulation, and beat back an anti-gay "defense of marriage act," a voter ID initiative, and an anti-choice measure.  However, lawmakers failed to expand health care for kids and, most regrettably, passed laws making it easier for people convicted of domestic violence to regain their gun ownership.

RNC Presses Lawsuit to Strike Limits on Soft Money Spent in States

The Republican National Committee has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Elections Commission, hoping to prevent restrictions on donations to political parties designated for spending on state-level campaign work and congressional redistricting, among other things.  The RNC has teamed up with James Bopp, the country's top crusader against campaign finance regulations, who has had substantial success of late.  He argued the Wisconsin Right to Life case that eviscerated McCain-Feingold's ban on corporate and union spending on advertisements in federal elections.  (He is also himself a member of the RNC and counsel to the rightwing, socially conservative group Focus on the Family).  Previously his mission has been to tear down all restrictions on independent groups, but in this case Bopp is expanding his goals to include the political parties themselves.  And while new Democratic National Committee Counsel Bob Bauer, late of the Obama campaign and an election law scholar in his own right, thinks the law and the constitution are on their side, the Robert's Supreme Court is clearly on a path toward dismantling the campaign finance regime we have now.

Policy Checklist for the New State Legislative Sessions

With legislative sessions getting underway around the country, this Dispatch provides a list of key bills and policies that we encourage legislators to consider introducing.  While not exhaustive of the range of needed reforms in states, they emphasize initiatives of strategic importance that are being considered in multiple states.  Working with our various partners, Progressive States Network is providing staff support for these policies and will work to use movement in multiple states to generate national media and attention.  This in turn will create greater momentum to assist individual states in pushing bills to passage.  The following is a quick checklist of key policies with links to model legislation and policy summaries.