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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.