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Restricting Privatization

2010 Legislative Session Roundup: Arizona

Arizona's conservative Legislature made national headlines by passing a discriminatory, anti-immigrant bill, SB 1070.  Confronting one of the steepest budget shortfalls in the nation, the Legislature lurched from privatization schemes to attempting to completely eliminate its health care program for children.  Even as the state's economy remained in crisis, the legislative session was dominated by right-wing obsessions like banning the regulation of greenhouse gases, gun lobby priorities, attacks on ethnic study classes, and bans on embryo and stem cell research.  A few progressive initiatives like encouraging youth voting and transparency for local budgets were approved, but extreme right-wing posturing marred the session and failed to address the state's precarious economic and fiscal standing.

Public Employees Earn Substantially Less than Private Sector Counterparts

Refuting right-wing attacks on state workers, a new report by the National Institute for Retirement Security (NIRS) and the Council on State and Local Government Excellence (CSGE), Out of Balance? Comparing Public and Private Sector Compensation Over 20 Years, demonstrates that state and local employees earn an average of 11 and 12 percent less, respectively, than comparable private sector workers.

State House Reporting and Public Broadcasting on the Chopping Block

According to the American Journalism Review, state house news reporting is down 30 percent nationally.  New Jersey may be adding to the problem by reducing funding for and privatizing functions of the New Jersey Network (NJN), the only non-partisan public television and radio news source that exclusively covers the state. 

Critics Resisting New Jersey Governor's Push for Further Privatization

Last month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie unveiled his $29.3 billion FY2011 budget proposal -- an extremely regressive plan that would only exacerbate the economic pain for the state's working and middle class families. 

2010 Legislative Session Roundup: Indiana

Dealing with a $309 million mid-year budget gap and unemployment hovering above 9 percent, the 10-week Indiana legislative session primarily focused on budgetary and economic issues.  Lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement to only consider bills with minimal to no cost, but still considered a broad range of bills, from property tax caps to energy efficiency initiatives.

Texas Again Demonstrates the Pitfalls of Privatization

This past week, the Dallas Morning News revealed that a key figure who contributed to the privatization of Texas' food stamp eligibility program is now receiving taxpayer dollars to help fix the problems that the private system created.  regg Phillips, who was Deputy Commissioner at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and led the push for privatization a few years ago, now heads AutoGov Inc., a company that has received $207,500 from the state government in the past four months to assist in eliminating the errors in the provision and eligibility determination of the state's food stamp program.

Tuesday's Lesson: Bold State Leadership Needed More than Ever

Gridlock.  Slow fulfillment of promises of change in D.C.  A health care bill so compromised that even supporters are unhappy with many details. Frustration with D.C. seemed to be the clearest message from Massachusetts voters on Tuesday. But what can we expect other than gridlock and resistance when a 59-seat super-majority in the U.S. Senate is insufficient to pass serious legislation?  Or when monied interests in D.C. buy off support to block serious reforms on financial regulations, health care and climate change legislation? This is why bold, progressive leadership in the states matters. 

Federal Officials Critical of Privatization Debacles in the States

In a meeting with Texas officials last week, Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary of Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), claimed that there had been a drastic reduction in the timeliness and accuracy of food stamp provisions in the state following the implementation of a privatized system.  In fact, Texas now has the worst performing food stamp program in the entire country.

Corporate Transparency in State Budgets

As part of the Progressive States Network’s 2010 Shared Multi-State Agenda, we are advancing a corporate transparency initiative in coordination with key allies and experts.  Demand for transparency in government is rising, but most states still do not collect even the most basic, critical data from recipients of state grants, state contracts or tax breaks.  In this Dispatch, we will examine the need for corporate transparency, recent cases relating to the subject, and how the policy will benefit states dealing with massive deficits.