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Indiana

Strengthening Home Rule on Revenue Powers

If states won't raise the revenue needed for local needs, the least they can do is let those cities and towns tax themselves.  At least that's the proposal by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who this week proposed eliminating some of the restrictions that prevent Boston and other towns from raising local revenue through sales taxes, meals taxes or many other fees that comparable cities use.  This proposal joins a slew of other proposals for expanding local revenue options:

Making Legislative Pay Match the Workload

One of the most politically challenging, and politically assailable, decisions a legislator can make is a vote increasing legislative pay.  Yet, with legislative pay a mere pittance in most states, increasing it is necessary to prevent wealth from becoming a prerequisite to hold public office.

What States Can Do for Darfur

Since the Bush administration first recognized the genocide in Darfur, over 250,000 men, women, and children have died. This number does not count the countless women and children that have been raped or attacked as a result of the Sudanese government's campaign to kill and drive out Darfur's ethnic African populations. The violence and genocide is now spilling over into Chad and the Central African Republic. Yet, even with such horrifying statistics, the situation deteriorates day by day.

IN: New Resistance to Privatizing Social Services

With a change in party control of Indiana's legislature, one shift may be new resistance to Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniel's pell-mell movement to privatize all public services.

Cleaning up Election Day Disasters

Even with the good news that came last Tuesday, all too much evidence exists that the basic machinery of democracy in America is broken. Election Day is like Groundhog Day and the first stories of problems with voting machines, long lines, or voter intimidation hit the wires in the early A.M. Fortunately, with progressives in control in more states than ever before, we have an opportunity to get the machinery working, so that the engine of democracy starts humming again.

Stopping Privatization Profiteering

A number of state leaders have been promoting what seems like a free lunch. Hand over control of government services to private industry and those companies promise better service at a lower price. Like most promises of a free lunch, privatization has mostly ended up being a deceptive boondoggle, a point the non-partisan news sourceStateline.org emphasized this past week:

IN: Rushed Social Services Privatization Condemned

In Indiana, critics are condemning a rushed $1 billion privatization of the states' social services work -- despite the fact that the companies bidding on the contract have mismanaged similar contracts in other states and, more tellingly, no one even bothered to determine whether the companies could do the job cheaper than current state employees:

The Success of State Venture Funds

Hawaii is the latest state moving in that direction with a proposed Hawaii Innovations Fund which could grow to $200 million in government funds over four years to invest in Hawaii's renewable energy, life science and technology companies.

Taking on Private Toll Roads

We've written before about the new 75-year lease of an Indiana toll road to a Spanish-Australian partnership, and the bad deal for taxpayers and democracy that it represents. The state's largest consumer group filed a lawsuit yesterday saying that the deal was so bad that it violates the state constitution. The Citizens Action Coalition argues that the state constitution requires lease proceeds to pay down public debt, rather than diverting long-term returns from a lease to immediate public spending. The lawsuit highlights the core problem with this kind of privatization -- it's essentially a theft from future taxpayers and consumers to help pay for government spending today.