There are few more potent tools for impacting the outcomes of elections
than changing what appears on the ballot. And there are no more direct
paths from public outcry to passed legislation than through ballot
issues. For years, the rightwing has been advancing policy goals,
shaping message, and marshalling voters through ballot issues (we've
already highlighted many of their current-year endeavors in this very
newsletter). Progressives increasingly are fighting back using ballot
issues -- which shouldn't be surprising, since initiatives and
referedenda were originally a progressive reform.
After years of stagnating wages for working Americans and inaction by
Congress, legislators and activists across the country are taking the
lead in securing higher minimum wages on a state by state basis. They
are achieving some outstanding results. Here's where the minimum wage
fight stands in a number of states:
As far-right funders like Howard Rich work across the country, dumping
literally millions simply into qualifying these atrocious measures for
ballots, progressives have experienced some good news and some bad
news. Here's where the campaign stands in various states:
Diving into the world of campaign finance and investigating the funders of the takings initiatives quickly reveals a number of organizations involved: Americans for Limited Government, America at Its Best, the Fund for Democracy, and Montanans in Action. What is odd, though, is that with more digging, they all appear to be funded and controlled by the same individual: New York Developer Howard Rich.
With the 2006 elections quickly approaching, a small group of highly energized right-wing activists are working hard to export a failed policy from Colorado to other states around the nation. The idea is known variously as the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights (TABOR), the Stop OverSpending Amendment (SOS), or as Tax and Spending Control (TASC). Fundamentally, though, all of the amendments boil down to a single policy idea: arbitrarily capping increases in state spending based on only two factors -- population growth and the consumer price index.
As a new profile in Stateline.org
details, states are struggling to provide foster care for neglected and
abandoned children, increasingly turning to grandparents and other
relatives to care for them. 4 million children now live with relatives
other than their parents.
Fully aware that their anti-worker policies are anathema to most
Americans, corporate conservatives often posture and position
themselves on worker issues to avoid bearing the full brunt of the
backlash from their noxious positions and to try to fix blame on their
opponents, who really are working for the common interest.
After winning the Governor's seat in New Jersey, Jon Corzine decided to keep
a Republican in the position of Agriculture Secretary. It was a good
move. Charlie Kuperus has held the position in 2002 and has won broad
support from both parties for his support of a number of measures in
support of rural New Jersey.