Florida Governor Charlie Crist recently signed an economic stimulus plan for the state that redirects $1.95 billion of the state's pension fund
into direct investments in Florida's economy. The amount is limited to
1.5 percent of the state's pension money, but even that limited
percentage can add up to massive investments in jobs for the state's
In creating the program,
legislators and the Governor pointed to the success of similar programs
in other states, particularly the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the nation's largest pension fund. A recent study
found the California fund's in-state investments had fed an estimated
$15.1 billion into in-state economic activity in 2006 and created
124,000 jobs, more jobs than the construction or motion picture
In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the US health care system 37th in the world despite spending more than any other country. In 2007, according to the US Census Bureau, the US ranked 42nd in life expectancy.
If you are a person of color, a low-wage worker, non-English speaking,
or live in a low-income community, the picture is much worse. For
instance, the life expectancy for African-Americans
is 73.3 years, five years shorter than it is for whites. For
African-American men, it is 69.8 years, just above averages in Iran and
Syria, but below Nicaragua and Morocco.
On April 2nd, the Maine Senate passed a National Popular Vote bill, LD 1744, that would guarantee that the Presidential candidate who receives the most votes in all 50 states wins the Presidency.The
bill is an interstate compact, which would take effect only when states
possessing a majority of the membership of the Electoral College (that
is 270 of 538 electoral votes) enact similar statutes.
In the wake of a bitter 2004 Governor's election and state Supreme Court races that took in more money from third-party groups than any other high court campaign in the country, Washington State's House took the first step toward public financing by passing HB 1551. Introduced by Senator Joe McDermott, HB 1551 allows cities, counties, and other jurisdictions to provide local candidates with government financing. The bill only allows local taxes to be tapped for the public campaign accounts and the public funds cannot be used for campaigns for state offices or school boards.
With only 10 dissenting votes, the New Jersey Legislature has made the state's hate crimes and anti-bullying laws two of the strongest in the country. S2975 is notable for its unequivocal inclusion of transgender people in the state's hate crimes law, becoming the 12th state to do so, and for stronger anti-bullying measures in its safe schools law.
After discussing the possibility of privatizing major state highways last year, New Jersey Governor John Corzine instead made a proposal
earlier this month that called for significant increases in tolls that
would provide nearly $30 billion to decrease state debt and invest in
state transit projects. Unlike rhetorical promises around privatization
money in other states, this plan actually laid out how money would get
On December 24th, the California Supreme Court gave a major Christmas
present for labor rights, affirming that under California law, union
members in a mall could distribute handbills calling for a consumer
boycott of one of the mall's tenants. The decision, Fashion Valley Mall v. NLRB, built
on an earlier state high court decision in 1980 that deemed malls to be
a "public forum" where the public had free speech rights. The recent
decision extended that principle to active labor boycotts -- a critical
tool for labor to get its message out to consumers.
In the age of Google, citizens expect to be able to find core
information on the Internet about government operations, but as a major
new report being released today highlights, most states are failing on
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared this
year's Nobel Peace Prize with Al
Gore, recently released a
report detailing the negative environmental changes that will result from
climate change, including higher temperatures leading to increased deaths
from more severe heat waves, increased incidence of infectious
diseases, and severe damage to ecosystems. The IPCC report
warned that there were only eight years left to act to prevent the
worst effects of global warming.