Show Us the Stimulus, Policies to Aid State Fiscal Recovery, Job Creation, and More

Show Us the Stimulus (Again) - Some states are making dramatic improvements in websites designed to disseminate information about their share of the $787 billion ARRA recovery act, but others are still failing to make effective use of online technology to educate taxpayers about the impact of economic stimulus spending, according to this new Good Jobs First report.   However, only three states - Kentucky, Maryland and Wisconsin - juxtapose the geographic distribution of spending with patterns of economic distress or need within the state.

Policies to Aid State Fiscal Recovery:

  • Bonds and the Recovery Act - Good Jobs New York released a report today explaining how the Recovery Act's new and expanded bond programs are contributing to economic recovery and where opportunities exist for public input.
  • States Can Opt Out of the Costly and Ineffective “Domestic Production Deduction” Corporate Tax Break - Twenty five states are losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue due to a federal corporate tax break known as the "domestic production deduction," which mainly benefits large, profitable, corporations. With many states facing budget problems due to the weak economy, this report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues they can ill afford any unjustified revenue losses.

The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict: The Poor, the Professionals, and the Missing Middle - Americans report sharply higher levels of work-family conflict than do citizens of other industrialized countries, largely because public policy does so little to help working families, according to this Center for American Progress report.  Part of the obstacle to building coalitions for work-family reforms is that public discussions too often focus on higher-income professional women, without a more comprehensive discussion of integrated policies to address the needs of "welfare-to-work" parents, middle-income parents and professionals.   A range of policies are needed to address these conflicts for families at all income levels.

The State of Opportunity in America - is an assessment of the country's progress in achieving opportunity for all by the Opportunity Agenda.  It shows that the increase in unemployment in the recession has been significantly higher for African Americans and Latinos, that women are far more likely to live in poverty than men, and that racial and ethnic gaps in educational attainment persist.  The report suggests use of Opportunity Impact Statements to better evaluate how public expenditures affect inequality and more direct programs to address that inequality of opportunity.

The Role of Human Services in Job Creation and Fiscal Recovery:

  • Cutting Early Childhood Programs Worsens Fiscal Problems - States will save money and stimulate their economies, in the short and long run, by protecting funding for effective pre-kindergarten and home visiting programs, according to a new issue brief by the Partnership for America’s Economic Success.   Such programs reduce the costs of holding children back grades for developmental delays and reduce costly health care complications for new parents.  Also, because child care and pre-k professionals tend to spend much of their earnings locally, their jobs provide strong stimulus for the economy as their wage dollars move multiple times throughout their communities.
  • Extending the TANF Emergency Fund Would Create and Preserve Jobs Quickly and Efficiently - The federal government moving quickly to extend TANF Emergency  Fund support is critical to maintaining state programs that subsidize jobs keeping many low-income parents at work, according to this Center on Budget Policy and Priorities report.

Poverty and Hunger Around the Nation:

  • The Suburbanization of Poverty: Trends in Metropolitan America, 2000 to 2008 - By 2008, suburbs were home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country, with midwestern cities and suburbs experienced by far the largest poverty rate increases over the decade, according to this report by the Brookings Institution.   Based on increases in unemployment over the past year due to the recession, Sun Belt metro areas are also likely to experience the largest increases in poverty in 2009. This shift in the geography of American poverty to the suburbs increasingly requires regional scale collaboration in order to effectively address the needs of a poor population.
  • Food Hardship: A Closer Look at Hunger - 18.5 percent of U.S. households did not have enough money to buy food in the past 12 months, according to a new report from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). This is the first-ever report analyzing food hardship for metropolitan areas and congressional districts.
  • Poverty Elimination Strategies That Work by the Heartland Alliance provides a tool kit in creating solutions to fundamentally address poverty, including housing action coalitions, transistional jobs programs, community-centered health clinics, car donation programs, adult literacy programs and many others.

 Corporate Campaign Spending: Giving Shareholders A Voice - The Brennan Center for Justice has released a policy report on how corporate law can be changed to protect shareholder rights with regard to corporate political spending.

Ensuring that Provisional Ballots are Counted - Project Vote has released a policy brief and model legislation regarding best practices for provisional balloting.  Provisional ballots have been termed "placebo voting" by some advocates because poor practices have meant that in many states very few of these ballots are ever counted.  This is the first in a coming series of election policy briefs from Project Vote in 2010.