In a positive step forward for federal respect of state regulatory powers, President Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider a previously denied waiver to allow California to set more stringent auto emissions and fuel efficiency standards than required by federal law. In a statement by the White House, President Obama said "the federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." The directive represents not only greater respect for state authority, but also a sharp break from the climate policies of President Obama's predecessor.
In New York State, 31% of uninsured residents are young adults between
the ages 19 and 29. To help this population and reduce the state's
uninsured rolls, Governor Paterson wants to require private employers
to offer health insurance to workers' dependents
who are between the ages 19 and 29. The proposal would expand
eligibility to some 800,000 uninsured New Yorkers and the Governor's
Office projects about 80,000 would take advantage of the new rule.
According to the New York Times,
business groups appear to be supportive of the idea, which would not
require employers to help pay for coverage, merely to make it available.
With legislative sessions getting underway around the country, this
Dispatch provides a list of key bills and policies that we encourage
legislators to consider introducing. While not exhaustive of the range
of needed reforms in states, they emphasize initiatives of strategic
importance that are being considered in multiple states. Working with
our various partners, Progressive States Network is providing staff
support for these policies and will work to use movement in multiple
states to generate national media and attention. This in turn will
create greater momentum to assist individual states in pushing bills to
passage. The following is a quick checklist of key policies with links
to model legislation and policy summaries.
As states face mounting deficits, corporate lobbyists have been promoting the idea that privatization of public services and assets is a free lunch -- services can be delivered more cheaply than by public employees and public assets like highways can be sold or leased for a hefty return to the taxpayer. As PSN has detailed in our December 2007 report Privatizing in the Dark: The Pitfalls of Privatization & Why Budget Disclosure is Needed, the promises of privatization too often yield to a reality of lost money and degraded services, weak oversight and lost expertise, assets sold off for short-term gains but long-term loss, lost democratic accountability, and the corruption of the political process.
In the past few years states have become increasingly unwillingly torely on the chance that volatile global investment markets will chooseto invest in their local communities. Instead, states are choosing todirectly invest themselves in local emerging opportunities. The greatadvantage of direct investment, instead of simply raiding the statetreasury and giving away corporate welfare, is that by making directinvestment in local businesses, states create a financial stake infirms. If these businesses are successful, they will return equity tothe tax payers that can be reinvested in other projects. According to the National Association of Seed and Venture Fund, as of 2006, all but six states had state venture capital funds.
Addressing the recession affecting New Jersey, as well as many other states, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine last week presented a plan for reviving the state economy. Some of the proposals
- such as speeding up work on infrastructure projects and putting $500
million of state pension money in community banks to spur lending to
local businesses - are smart and desperately needed.