Progressive Revenue Measures Approved or Moving in Oregon and Other States

Oregon became the latest state to address the current fiscal crisis with progressive revenue increases.  This is part of a welcome trend that we highlighted back in April of states recognizing that budget cuts need to be balanced with wealthier state residents being asked to pay their fair share to address the effects of the economic downturn.

Worker Freedom Bill Passed in Oregon to Allow Workers to Avoid Mandatory Political or Religious Meetings in Workplace

Too often workers are forced by employers to listen to religious, political, or anti-union propaganda that has nothing to do with their work responsibilities-- yet they are threatened with being fired if they don't attend such employer-mandated meetings.  The Oregon legislature this past week joined New Jersey in giving employees the right to skip such employer propaganda meetings without fearing reprisals.

Accounting for jobs in the stimulus cash

In order to comply with new transparency requirements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, state governments across the country are scrambling to report to the public how they spend recovery dollars. Unfortunately, no existing state government Web sites that are accounting for the recovery funds report the number of jobs created by private contractors. Without such data, the sites are close to meaningless.

Fortunately, Oregon is leading an effort to require contractors to report the number of jobs they create, as well as the hours worked and wages received by their employees. These proposed requirements would ensure Oregonians' tax money actually goes toward creating quality jobs.

Concerns raised about black access to stimulus funding

President Barack Obama's $787 billion federal stimulus package, now known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, is designed to jumpstart the nation's failing economy not only through grants and middle-class tax cuts, but by funding state ''shovel-ready'' construction projects that will hopefully produce thousands of jobs and small business opportunities, especially in the black community.

Just last week, Pres. Obama unveiled new proposals to allow small businesses easier access to loans and capital through the US Small Business Administration in an effort to empower them to take better advantage of stimulus package opportunities.

But even before North Carolina fully determines how to distribute its $6.1 billion in federal stimulus funding, questions are being raised as to how African-Americans can best access their share of the opportunity pot.