Restricting Privatization

Rhode Island Contractor Transparency Requirements

Rhode Island

Gen. Laws Sec. 37-2.3-4 “As part of the budgetary process, each state agency shall provide an addendum to their submitted budget request listing all privatization contracts; the name of each contractor, subcontractor, duration of the contract provided and services provided; the total cost of each contract(s) for the prior year; and

Interview with Texas State Rep. Garnet Coleman, PSN Co-Chair

Texas State Representative and PSN Co-Chair Garnet Coleman shares the story of his roots, sheds some light on corporate privatization schemes, and urges bold progressive state action to implement the federal recovery plan.

New Coalition Demands Transparency in Federal and State Recovery Spending

With the federal government about to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars to the states, with many of those funds going to private contractors, a broad-based, bi-partisan coalition of organizations has come together in a Coalition for an Accountable Recovery.    The Coalition, which Progressive States Network participated in creating, is promoting reforms at both the federal and state level to assure transparency in how funds are used by federal and state contractors, the number of jobs created, and the quality of jobs created-- with the results posted online in easily searchable websites for the public.

Why Are the Feds Bailing Out the Highway Privatization Industry?

In past Dispatches, we've highlighted the potential and actual taxpayer ripoffs hidden in the industry siren song of selling off public assets like highways.  States gets what looks like an attractive upfront payment, but lose in the long-term from lost toll revenue and lost democratic control of transit decisions.

The credit crisis has undermined the financial players who had been leading the charge on privatization, so they are looking for a bailout under the federal recovery plan.  As reported by Reuters, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and a number of other firms pushing "public-private partnerships" -- the industry's preferred euphemism for privatization -- wants part of the stimulus package to flow to them.  Their wish list includes federal rules to push privatization of airports and highways, along with a national infrastructure bank to subsidize loans for private sector deals.

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.

Inside PSN: 1st Annual Legislative Leadership Retreat

From December 8-10th, over 50 legislators from 26 states joined the Progressive States Network at Bally’s Hotel in Las Vegas for its first annual Legislative Leadership Retreat. These fifty legislators met with key advocacy allies to discuss both policy and legislative strategy for the 2009 legislative sessions. The retreat was held in conjunction with the annual conference of the Economic Research and Analysis Network (EARN) to strengthen the state progressive movement at this key point in history.

Universal Voter Registration: A New Initiative to Increase Electoral Participation and Reduce Voter Suppression

The elections of 2008 served as a critical test of the nation's election systems.  With changes in voting machines and procedures, coupled with expectations of record voter turnout, election administrators held their breath and hoped their system wouldn't fail. 

While the system didn't fail, voters faced serious obstacles in exercising their right to vote.  Voter registration ended up being the problem that affected the largest number of voters.  Even before the first votes were cast, it was apparent that our voter registration systems were woefully inadequate.  While in other nations 90% or more of the eligible voter population is registered to vote, in the United States less than 75% of eligible voters are registered.

We can do better.

Privatization Update: Recent News from across the Country

As states face mounting deficits, corporate lobbyists have been promoting the idea that privatization of public services and assets is a free lunch -- services can be delivered more cheaply than by public employees and public assets like highways can be sold or leased for a hefty return to the taxpayer.  As PSN has detailed in our December 2007 report Privatizing in the Dark: The Pitfalls of Privatization & Why Budget Disclosure is Needed, the promises of privatization too often yield to a reality of lost money and degraded services, weak oversight and lost expertise, assets sold off for short-term gains but long-term loss, lost democratic accountability, and the corruption of the political process.

New PSN Website and Reports Lay the Groundwork for 2009 State Action

With elections over and new progressive strength in many legislatures, voters will now be demanding that state leaders deliver, made all the more challenging given hard economic times and the laundry list of social problems we face.  

To assist in this task, Progressive States Network has launched an upgrade of its website to make it easier for legislators and advocates to find both past Dispatch information and additional resources we will be adding in coming months.  As well, we have new Policy Options reports that give more detailed analysis of policies that legislators may want to introduce in their states.


It is important not only that everyone be able to cast a ballot, but that every vote is counted and meaningful.  Voters too often feel their vote won’t matter, whether because they don’t believe in the integrity of the voting system or because they are stuck in non-competitive voting jurisdictions.

Several fundamental reforms, from improved election integrity measures to redistricting reforms can support the integrity of the electoral process and create elections that enhance voters' ability to influence electoral outcomes and have their voice truly heard in the political process.