Recent scandals in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. that revealed coordinated efforts by teachers and administrators to manipulate student test scores are shining an even brighter spotlight on the failure of standardized test-centric policies in the states. A backlash is brewing in many states as more and more parents and legislators alike start asking questions about corporate education "reform":
Taxes are on the minds of many this week as April 15th approaches. They're also on the minds of many conservative governors -- in states such as Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Nebraska -- who have seen their radical tax proposals to further enrich corporations and the wealthy run into major resistance from voters, businesses, and even conservative lawmakers. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who this week withdrew his regressive plan that would have eliminated the state income tax while raising the sales tax, has seen his standing drop sharply in the polls. In the run up to Tax Day, increasing attention is being focused on how tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations increase burdens on the middle class.
In contrast to the conservative policies we've seen move in the states over the past two years, 2013 has so far seen at least a handful of states where progressive policies are being introduced and enacted across a range of issue areas. With legislative sessions about midway through, here's a roundup of the policies moving in a couple of those states -- Minnesota and Colorado:
Eight years ago, progressives were recovering from an Election Day that saw a full 11 states ban same-sex marriage at the polls. The environment in early 2013 could not be more different. Coming off of historic successes at the polls in four states in November, momentum behind marriage equality efforts continues to grow in state after state in advance of what is likely to be a landmark Supreme Court decision on the issue this term:
As goes California, so goes the nation? The conservative anti-tax revolt that began in the Golden State over 30 years ago was rebuked by voters this past November when they approved Prop 30. Early in sessions in 2013, other states are showing signs of following a similar path and refusing to rely on economically destructive cuts:
With the long lines on Election Day still somewhat fresh in the minds of voters, and as the year kicks off with efforts to rig the electoral vote and lessen the impact of the votes of historically disenfranchised communities, lawmakers in some states are introducing proposals to expand and protect the vote:
Virginia's Senate leadership chose the occasion of Martin Luther King Day on Monday to push through a partisan redistricting bill, taking advantage of the absence of a legislator attending President Obama's inauguration. A separate effort in Virginia to change the way the state awards electoral votes in presidential elections ran into bipartisan opposition, even as lawmakers in other states were considering doing the same:
If federal policymakers fail to put forward a balanced deficit-reduction plan that includes significant revenues, Minnesota’s schools, roads and bridges, and communities would be substantially harmed, with serious implications for the state’s economy.
The U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would make it more challenging for low- and middle-income families moving up the income ladder to purchase affordable health insurance. H.R. 436 – which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in early June – eliminates a tax on medical device companies. The Minnesota Budget Project strongly objects to the fact that the bill asks low- and middle-income families to pay the tab for the $30 billion in lost tax revenue.
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