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Progressive Ballot Issues For Turnout and Framing

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.

Progress on the Minimum Wage

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:

Takings In Your State

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:

How Rich: The Man Behind the Takings Initiatives

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.

Property taxes emerge as election issue

by Pamela Prah Originally published by Stateline.org Monday, July 17, 2006
Property tax cuts are poised to play a major role in Montana elections this fall, but not in a way some might think. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), who doesn’t face re-election this year, is using a property tax rebate proposal to fight a “Stop Over Spending”?

MT: Clergy Come Out in Support of Minimum Wage Hike

The Montana minimum wage initiative got quite a boost yesterday when clergy from around the state made clear their endorsement of the measure -- citing the Bible as one basis for their argument that their faith requires them to support helping low-income workers.
Vernon Wright, a Helena minister, said people earning minimum wage -- a yearly income of $10,712 -- are "stranded on the road of this economy." Wright said that just as Jesus Christ taught his followers to care for their

ME: Polling Reveals Uphill Struggle to Defeat TABOR

A new poll in Maine reveals the uphill battle progressives face in educating the public about the dangers of TABOR-style spending caps. The poll reports that nearly three in four voters say they would vote for TABOR if the option was put in front of them today.

Good News on the Minimum Wage

Working Americans get some good news today out of three states -- Montana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania -- where progress is being made on the minimum wage. In Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell signed a staggered, two-dollar increase into law. In Montana, signature gatherers succeeded in qualifying for the ballot an initiative to increase the minimum wage and tie the minimum to inflation.

MT: Cracking the Property Tax Nut

The property tax debate has long been a tough nut to crack for progressives. Especially since the 1990s, when it became the rage for rightwing legislators to cut spending at the state level, leaving county and local governments with few options other than raising property taxes to address shortfalls for key services like education. The worst part is that these tax shifts increased property taxes, which already tend to be regressive in nature.

Preventing the Revolt: Progressive Strategies on Property Taxes

For decades, property tax revolts have been a thorn in the side of progressives. California's Proposition 13 remains the highest profile example of the property tax revolt, but just about every legislator in the country can attest to the level of frustration many Americans feel about property taxes.