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Green Skills, Government Contracting and Strengthening Public Services, Budget and Economic Development Strategies & Much More

More Effective Budget and Economic Development Strategies

  • Solutions That Work for Main Street: Progressive Guidelines for Closing Recessionary State Budget Gaps - United for a Fair Economy's Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative (TFOC) released this report outlining progressive solutions to provide more equitable, sustainable, and economically and fiscally responsible method of dealing with budget gaps.  Rather than a budget based primarily on cuts, which would hamper economic recovery, state lawmakers should consider more sensible alternatives, including: creating a fairer tax system, providing more funding for infrastructure investments through effective borrowing, utilizing rainy day funds, building trust funds, sunsetting ineffective tax expenditures, and encouraging enhanced federal-state revenue sharing.
  • Strengthening State Economic Development Systems: A Framework for Change - State governments spend billions on seeking to attract and create jobs through tax subsidies, infrastructure support, preferential financing, management assistance, and customized training, yet have not delivered significant benefits for low-income workers and usually encouraged economic activity that would have happened regardless, according to this report by the Working Poor Families Project.  The report argues instead that economic development should focus more on raising the education and skills levels of the current workforce and tie this into long-range industry sector development and coordination.
  • America Insecure: Changes in the Economic Security of American Families - This Urban Institute report highlights stagnating household income in the context of long-term trends in economic mobility and income instability for low-income working families.  The report recommends job creation policies that encourage employers to hire new employees, strengthen state workforces, and training programs aimed at low-income working families looking to move into middle- and high-skill jobs.  To deal with income shocks and overall economic insecurity, the report also recommends strengthening social insurance and disability programs.
  • Counting in a Crisis: How the Economic Recession Endangers North Carolina’s 2010 Census Count - This report by the Institute for Southern Studies looks at how the Great Recession and housing crisis have put hard-hit areas at a high risk of being under-counted -- and losing millions in federal dollars, making a bad situation worse.  The report also shows why Census officials, state leaders and civic groups need to consider recent changes in the economy if they want to boost Census participation.
  • The State of Working Maine: Choices for the Recession and Beyond - In dealing with a shrinking economy, this report by the Maine Center for Economic Policy argues policymakers must appreciate the role that government played in growing America’s middle class during the last century and take the lead in positioning us for future growth and prosperity.  The state should invest in education, health care, energy efficiency and critical infrastructure, while strengthening the middle class through property tax relief, indexing the minimum wage to keep pace with wage growth, support family security with paid sick leave and ensure that business tax credits go only to programs promoting quality jobs.

Gains in the States: Consumer Advocacy and Federal-State Alliances Help Expand Health Coverage - Despite the Great Recession, this Community Catalyst report finds that 41 states improved access to quality affordable health care in 2009 due to joint federal and state support.  While states targeted Medicaid and CHIP programs for budget savings, most states did not cut eligibility for these safety-net programs in 2009, just as they did not in 2008.  Medicaid enrollment grew 7.5 percent from June 2008 to June 2009, and it was projected to grow another 6.6 percent by mid 2010.

The Council of State Governments (CSG) and the RAND Corporation will host a free webinar on Tuesday, April 6 from 2:00-3:30 PM (EST) to highlight key impacts of the new federal health care reform law and provide an opportunity for state officials to ask questions of experts in the state/federal health policy arena.  With the enactment of federal health reform legislation, states are confronted with a new challenge in the midst of the worst budget crisis in more than 70 years.  The financial impact of the legislation will vary, with some states anticipating high costs due to expanding Medicaid populations while others are anticipating significant cost savings over the next several years.

The Democratic Policy Committee provides a state by state breakdown of the key benefits that together, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act will provide in each state. It summarizes the benefits in terms of the number of children who will benefit, number of seniors, numbers of the uninsured, small businesses, the number of people who will receive subsidies, the number of jobs created and other key statistics.

The Commonwealth Fund's March/April 2010 issue of States in Action focuses on federal and state efforts to enhance access to basic care. The report describes a range of strategies available to states, largely involving efforts to expand and leverage the primary care workforce and to develop and test new models of care delivery.

Paid Sick Leave Does Not Harm Employment - Seventeen states considered paid sick days legislation this year and this new Drum Major Institute report finds that, based on the record of San Francisco, which implemented paid sick days in 2007, the policy does not undermine employment.  In fact, San Francisco has suffered less job loss than surrounding counties without paid sick days legislation.  In particular, industries where paid sick days had the most impact, including hospitality and food services, did much better on employment in San Francisco than other local communities.

Government Contracting and Strengthening Public Services

  • Contracting that Works: A Toolkit for State and Local Governments - State and local governments finance millions of jobs across our economy with the hundreds of billions of dollars they spend each year to purchase goods and services, yet few have clear and strong standards to assure that those jobs raising living standards and workers rights in the economy.  This toolkit by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the National Employment Law Project detail strategies to improve transparency and accountability, including better review of contracting out decisions, pre-screen contractors, wage and benefit standards, strong post-award enforcement, and better data collection and transparency.
  • Annual Living Wage Ordinance Report for Fiscal Year 2009 - Highlighting the gains from raising quality and wage standards on government contracts, this City of San Diego report on the results of passage of its 2005 living wage ordinance demonstrate that the policy has enhanced the quality of many companies' service provision to the city, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and allowed low-income workers the opportunity to access health care coverage.
  • Innovation in Action - This new video produced by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) features three different and innovative projects started by SEIU members that highlight how public employees improve the services government provides, while saving taxpayers money.  These include reducing waste and increasing environmental consciousness in schools, increasing speed and quality of client services in human services, and more efficient stolen vehicle recovery programs.

Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries - Nearly one-third of the US population over the age of 14 uses library computers to access the Internet, and those in poverty relied on these resources even more, according to this report by the University of Washington Information School and the Institute of Museum and Library Services . Almost half of library visitors access the Internet - whether they have it at home or not -  and use it to connect with other persons, for educational purposes, to look for employment, to obtain health information, or to look for government resources. Its recommendations to state and local government are to: include libraries in comprehensive broadband deployment and adoption strategies, partner with and invest in public libraries to broaden educational opportunities for K-12 students and adults, support libraries as points of access for eGovernment services, and support technology services that build communities.

Greener Skills: How Credentials Create Value in the Clean Energy Economy - Examining the competing skills benchmarks that differ by industry, employer, and training provider for green industries, this Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) report outlines key early steps toward a national credentialing system and provides a set of policy recommendations to help move this work in a more consistent direction, including integrating green jobs initiatives into existing training systems and a stronger focus on assuring upward mobility within clean energy job sectors.

A Program in Flux: new Priorities and Implementation Challenges for 287(g) - A new Migration Policy Institute report examines changes to the Department of Homeland Security's controversial 287(g) program, which seeks to train state and local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws. Acccording to the report, the proposed new agreements between the Department of Homeland Security and police departments reflects two new priorities on the part of federal immigration authories: 1) a renewed focus on immigration enforcement efforts that target and deport immigrants accused of violent crimes; and 2) increased federal control over immigration enforcement operations in states that occur under the aegis of the 287(g) program.   Critics of the program have expressed widespread concerns the program erodes community policing practices; results in racial profiling of immigrants regardless of whether they are undocumented; and blurs the line between civil (immigration) law and criminal law. the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has criticized the program for its lax federal oversight and unclear priorities, and numerous police chiefs and law enforcement professionals have also expressed concerns about the high costs assocated with the program.