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Texas

Stopping Privatization Profiteering

A number of state leaders have been promoting what seems like a free lunch. Hand over control of government services to private industry and those companies promise better service at a lower price. Like most promises of a free lunch, privatization has mostly ended up being a deceptive boondoggle, a point the non-partisan news sourceStateline.org emphasized this past week:

Western Governors Demand Action on Global Warming

The Western Governors Association on Sunday acknowledged an inconvenient truth. The bipartisan group of Governors from West Coast, Rocky Mountain, and Great Plains states came together to unanimously pass a resolution (PDF) that says that global warming is real, at least partially human-caused, and that now is a time for action.

IN: Rushed Social Services Privatization Condemned

In Indiana, critics are condemning a rushed $1 billion privatization of the states' social services work -- despite the fact that the companies bidding on the contract have mismanaged similar contracts in other states and, more tellingly, no one even bothered to determine whether the companies could do the job cheaper than current state employees:

TX: Revolving Door Between Texas Leg and Tobacco Lobby

The Dallas Morning News reports this morning on the strength of Texas' tobacco lobby, which is running strong in its efforts to defeat a $1 per pack increase in tobacco taxes. Regardless of the policy, what caught my eye was this paragraph talking about their lobbying team:
Among those working for tobacco giants Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds are the intense and driven Mike Toomey, a former state representative and former chief of staff for Gov.

TX: Cleaning Up the School Finance Mess

Facing state Supreme Court decisions demanding both equitable financing of public schools and reforms to the state property tax, the special session in the Lone Star State accomplished one big item of business yesterday -- reforming the bizarre loophole-ridden state franchise tax and actually applying it to a broad range of businesses, thereby lowering the rate but also raising $3.4 billion when it starts in 2008.

New Latino Voters May Change Political Map

"Today we march, tomorrow we vote!" - the chant at the recent immigration rights rallies -- may translate into a changed electoral landscape in many states across the country.

Taking on Private Toll Roads

We've written before about the new 75-year lease of an Indiana toll road to a Spanish-Australian partnership, and the bad deal for taxpayers and democracy that it represents. The state's largest consumer group filed a lawsuit yesterday saying that the deal was so bad that it violates the state constitution. The Citizens Action Coalition argues that the state constitution requires lease proceeds to pay down public debt, rather than diverting long-term returns from a lease to immediate public spending. The lawsuit highlights the core problem with this kind of privatization -- it's essentially a theft from future taxpayers and consumers to help pay for government spending today.