In a debate too often dominated by rightwing tax cut
rhetoric, there is a real opening for progressives to demand a fairer, more accountable
tax and budget system. The public has a strong commitment to funding both
social services and the long-term investments needed for economic growth, but state
residents are frustrated by governments that they believe tax low- and
middle-income residents too much and upper-income residents and corporations
too little. Hidden economic giveaways to companies receiving tax breaks
and government contracts only add to voters' suspicion that state budgets serve
those with money, not the average taxpayer. In response, a range of
reforms at the state level are creating more transparent tax and budget
decisions and strengthening voters' trust that their tax money will actually go
towards the important public services that they do support. These approaches include:
There are stark differences between the two presidential campaigns'
approaches to federal-state relationships. Differences range from the
amount of funding appropriated for programs run by the states to
whether the candidates would strengthen or weaken state regulatory
Despite the good news that New Orleans survived Hurricaine Gustav, the unfortunate reality, as a new report by PolicyLink
details, is that working families there still do not have access to
affordable housing three years after Katrina. Rental housing is in
especially short supply, with only 2 in 5 affordable damaged rental
units being repaired or replaced with recovery assistance.
Wednesday, PSN Executive Director Joel Barkin sat down for a phone interview
with Thomas Frank, author of the new best selling book, The Wrecking Crew:
How Conservatives Rule. Their conversation touched on a number of
issues surrounding how conservatives have worked over the last decade to
dismantle government as we know it in Washington D.C. and throughout the
The 2000 presidential election propelled America's problems with our
elections into the national spotlight in an unprecedented way.
Americans, night after night, watched news stories exposing the many
problems that are routine in elections but that receive little
attention: confusing ballots that lead people to mark their vote for
the wrong candidate, voter suppression aimed at minorities through
voter registration purges, and weary election officials trying to
discern voters’ intent on ambiguously marked punch card ballots.
On Monday, July 22nd, over one hundred and fifty
state legislators, labor leaders, and advocates participated in "Building
a Progressive Majority in the States," a joint annual meeting of the
Progressive States Network and the National Labor Caucus. Taking a cue from the opening plenary
policies for an economic downturn,
the conference focused on strategies for confronting the most
important issues facing America's working families, including
affordable health care, smart immigration policy, workers' rights,
green jobs, clean energy, and tax and budget reform. To address these
issues in more depth, PSN policy experts joined state legislative
leaders in smaller workshops that gave participants a chance to share
best practices and model legislation while developinglegislative
and winning strategies for 2009.
Even with many states having short sessions, the 2008 state legislative
sessions have already had some impressive milestone victories for
families and communities across the country. This Dispatch
covers a few of the key issue victories this year -- and points out
that states are still taking the lead on issue after issue. Most of
the bills highlighted became law, while a few, falling short of final
passage, were innovative enough and showed enough movement to promise
greater things for 2009.
In a round table discussion coinciding with PSN's annual Gala in New York, PSN members discuss how the progressive movement can leverage opportunities to drive grassroots change not possible at the federal level and highlight recent success on issues ranging from immigration to privatization and health care. The panel includes input from PSN Executive Director Joel Barkin, Texas State Representative and PSN Co-Chair Garnet Coleman, and Javier Morillo-Alicea, president of SEIU Local 26 in Minnesota.
Over the past decade, elections for state high court seats have gone
from sleepy, mildly partisan affairs to major political battles with
huge campaign spending, millions in independent special interest
advertising, and misleading and negative attacks in the forefront.TV advertising is now apart of virtually all (91%) contested state supreme court elections, up from about one in five elections in 2000.And in 2006 business groups were the source of more than 90% of those ads.Business groups are also the source of almost half of all campaign contributions in these races.
In the largest privatization deal ever proposed in the United States, a
consortium led by Spanish company Abertis Infraestructuras offered
$12.8 billion to lease operation of the Pennsylvania Turnpike
for 75 years. The deal would allow the company to immediately hike
tolls 25 percent and then increase tolls each year thereafter up to the
rate of inflation.