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President's Budget Would Devastate State Services

President's Budget Would Devastate State Services

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

http://www.progressivestates.org/dispatch

Growing-Economy

BY Nathan Newman

President's Budget Would Devastate State Services

States are facing hard budget times this year, with twenty states facing a combined budget shortfall of at least $34 billion for 2009 -- and the President's proposed budget would not only make them worse, but would disproportionately hurt many of the most vulnerable populations in the country. 

As the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities details, under the President's budget, grants to state and local government for all programs other than Medicaid would decline by $18.9 billion or 7.4 percent from fiscal year 2008 to 2009, after adjusting for inflation. This is part of a trend as non-Medicaid grants to the states have fallen from 1.99 percent of GDP down to a proposed 1.60 percent of GDP for 2009. (See chart to the right courtesy of CBPP.) If states were receiving funding at the 2001 level as a percentage of GDP, they would have $50 billion more.  

Even as the Iraq War receives tens of billions of dollars more in the budget, some of the proposed cuts for state services are astounding in their callousness:

  • Grants to protect children from neglect and abuse, foster care, adoption, and related services for children and families through the Social Services Block Grant would see a thirty percent cut.
  • Public safety program grants from juvenile justice to community policing would be cut by two-thirds. 
  • Unbelievably, grants for homeland security, which include reductions in support for first responders, would be cut by 45 percent.

The National Priorities Project has a state-by-state breakdown on cuts in the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Community Development Block Grants, Improving Teacher Quality State Grants, Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, and Social Services Block Grants.

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Increasing-Democracy


The Right-Wing Assault on University Campuses

Right-wing interests have been mounting a political assault on university professors they do not like, led by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), which is promoting so-called "Intellectual Diversity" (ID) Legislation in various states across the country. The concept was pioneered by right-wing activist David Horowitz (see this profile site for more on Horowitz).  

"Intellectual Diversity" legislation claims that college professors are overwhelmingly liberal and that states should legislate to force professors to present both left and right wing perspectives in the classroom-- as if scholarship is just a binary choice a la election day. The ID bills create a big brother system requiring higher education institutions to report to state councils evidence that "balanced ideology" is being taught.  

Organizations such as Free Exchange on Campus are fighting to ensure that faculty, professional staff, and students are able to exercise independent academic judgment in their teaching and research. In 2008 Intellectual Diversity bills have been introduced in Virginia, Missouri, Georgia, Colorado, Washington, Indiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. While most of the Intellectual Diversity bills do not gain much traction, a few states have been moving the legislation.

  • Missouri is the state most likely to pass ID legislation. It has companion "higher education sunshine" acts, HB 1315 sponsored by Representative Jane Cunningham (which has already passed the House), and SB 983 sponsored by Senator Purgason. Both bills require public higher education institutions to annually report on steps taken to ensure intellectual diversity
  • In Virginia, HB 118, a very watered down version of the ID bill, was introduced by Delegate Landes.  The bill requires higher education institutions to report to the state council on higher education regarding their efforts to promote the free exchange of ideas, and for the council to pass this report on to the state legislature. The bill was passed without dissent in the House.  

In the ideal, academic freedom is important because society needs "safe havens," places where students and scholars can challenge the conventional wisdom. Intellectual Diversity legislation is really just a form of McCarthyism to target a few scholars identified by the right-wing -- Horowitz has his own personal list of "50,000 professors [who] identify with the terrorists" that he wants eliminated.

The irony is that these right-wing crusaders for "balance" ignore the real corruption of objectivity on campuses, namely the financial corruption by outside business funding, where "radical" social sciences and humanities are horrendously underfunded compared to lavishly financed business schools and science departments that end up following a business agenda. If universities were really under the thrall of left-wing forces, you would not have, for example, a handful of underfunded labor studies programs around the country, chronically threatened with funding cutoffs, facing off against a phalanx of gleaming business schools.

"Intellectual Diversity" legislation is really less about "balance" on campuses, than about stamping out the few remaining areas of independent debate on campuses where corporately-funded agendas have not undermined traditional academic freedom of thought.

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Valuing-Families

BY Adam Thompson

Kansas Supreme Court Protect Patient Privacy in Abortion Case

The Kansas State Supreme Court temporarily blocked a grand jury investigating an abortion provider from collecting more than 2,000 patient records, including patients who didn't end up having an abortion.  The provider, Dr. Tiller, and his attorneys objected to the subpoena of patient records as a violation of women's constitutional rights.  The Center for Reproductive Rights also filed a petition on behalf of patients to stop the subpoena's. The Court, at least for now, agreed the subpoenas raised "significant issues" about patients' privacy.  A final decision will be made by February 25th.

Kansas is one of six states that allow citizens to initiate a grand jury investigation through a petition drive.  Kansas for Life gathered over 7,800 signatures alleging Dr. Tiller violated the state's late-term abortion law and called for the grand jury to mine patient records over the last five years for any infractions. Kansas allows post-viable abortions only if two doctors certify that continuing the pregnancy could kill the woman or cause "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."

This is not the first time Dr. Tiller has been in the cross-hairs of opponents to choice, literally. His clinic was bombed in 1985, he was shot in the mid-1990's and he has been investigated at least five times since 2006.  Dr. Tiller's lawyers were able to draw on an earlier investigation in its objections to the subpoena of patient records. At the time, prosecutors were able to identify patients even though names had been removed from medical files by cross-referencing the medical records with guest lists from area hotels. 

Threats to patient privacy have been a chronic problem as abortion rights have been threatened, from Ohio litigation that sought to force Planned Parenthood to reveal all its patients under 18 who had received abortions the federal government seeking to the U.S. Justice Department seeking patient records in enforcing the federal ban on late-term abortions.  So far, courts have generally resisted these threats to patient privacy, but they highlight the dangers to privacy of anti-abortion laws that interfere with personal relationships between patients and their doctors.

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Research Roundup

In Debtors' Prison””Prisoners' Accumulation of Debt as a Barrier to Reentry, CLASP and Brennan Center authors outline how financial penalties and the application of unrealistic child support rules undermines post-prison rehabilitation, undercuts long-term support for the children themselves, and prevents reintegration into society.

As Congress debates additional money for states to extend unemployment benefits, the Economic Policy Institute highlights that while current unemployment is lower than during the last recession, the actual number of long-term unemployed today who have exhausted benefits, 1.4 million workers, is actually HIGHER than in 2002, and the number of long-term unemployed is projected to increase to 1.9 million by the end of 2008.

Tax Increment Financing (TIFs) were originally developed as a tool for revitalizing inner-city urban areas, but have increasingly evolved into tax subsidies for suburban malls and sprawl-- and threaten to devastate local funding for local social services, according to an analysis by Good Jobs First.


Please email us leads on good research at research@progressivestates.org

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The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nathan Newman, Policy Director
J. Mijin Cha, Policy Specialist
Adam Thompson, Policy Specialist
John Bacino, Operations Manager

Please shoot us an email at dispatch@progressivestates.org if you have feedback, tips, suggestions, criticisms, or nominations for any of our sidebar features.

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