Latino Child Well-Being, The Rise of the Corporate Court, Bad Tax Systems Increase Inequality, and Much More

America's Future: Latino Child Well-Being in Numbers and Trends -  Latinos account for over one in five of the nation's children, yet continue to face considerable obstacles to integration and form a growing share of those in the nation who live in poverty, according to a new report from the National Council of La Raza and the Population Reference Bureau.  Despite their parents' high labor-force participation rates, a substantial majority of young Latinos continue to live in poverty and substantial subgroup of Latino children "do not finish high school, get stuck in dead-end jobs, etc.”  The report stresses the importance of crafting integration policies that address this growing trend in inequality.

Rise of the Corporate Court: How the Supreme Court is Putting Businesses First - This report by People for the American Way examines how the current U.S. Supreme Court has systematically weakened or dismantled federal and state laws to protect the environment, workers rights, and consumer protections.  Notable examples include reducing jury punitive damages assessed against corporate lawbreakers to the recent Citizens United case which has undermined campaign spending restrictions on corporations.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) has two reports on how bad state tax systems tax the poor and increase inequality within those states:

  • Bad Tax Reform Ideas? Georgia's Got 'Em - This legislative session, Georgia is adopting tax policies that amount to "Robin Hood in Reverse" according to this report by ITEP.  State lawmakers are moving policies that would redistribute income from below-poverty families to cut taxes on the wealthiest Georgians.
  • Does Alabama’s Tax System “Redistribute Wealth?” Yes: From the Poor to the Rich - Unlike Georgia, Alabama is considering policies to ease the tax burden on the poor, but the reality remains that the Alabama tax system actively redistributes income away from those living below the poverty line and towards the state’s millionaires.

Americans Work Longer - Compared to other developed nations around the world, the US retirement age, which is currently 65.8 years of age, was significantly higher than the countries in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, w averages of 63.5 years for men and 62.3 years for women, according to this snapshot by the Economic Policy Institute.

Poverty studies on older Americans, high school dropouts and better poverty measurements:

  •  Older Americans in Poverty: A Snapshot - 3.7 million older Americans do not have sufficient income to meet their basic expenses, according to this AARP Public Policy Institute report.  Social Security benefits serve as the main source of income for 59 percent of older adults in poverty, with nearly twice as many poor older adults reporting poor health conditions compared with the general elderly population. 
  • Helping High School Dropouts Improve Their Prospects - There is a striking correlation of dropping out of school and low future income -- adding up to a $700,000 lifetime difference in income between a dropout versus someone with only a high school degree.  This Brookings Institution policy brief evaluates a number of models for giving such dropouts a second chance to complete their studies.
  • A Modern Framework for Measuring Poverty and Basic Economic Security - While the Obama Administration discusses some changes in measurements of the poverty rate, this Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) report argues for a core "low-income" measure that is equal to roughly 50 percent of median income and another measure that would combine the low-income measure with indicators of deprivation, including hunger, substandard housing, and inadequate health care.

Road Work Ahead - Holding Government Accountable for Fixing America’s Crumbling Roads and Bridges - In this report, U.S. PIRG points to flawed infrastructure priorities and misguided policies as reasons for the poor state of the nation's roads and bridges.  State transportation policies are short-sighted and lack accountability with strong outside political pressure for new bridge or highway construction, but little outside pressure for preventative maintenance and regular repairs.  Several recommendations include a "fix-it-first" policy of timely infrastructure maintenance, requiring states to plan maintenance before receiving federal funds, rewarding states that work towards national objectives, and a prioritization of bridge and highway repair.

Evaluating the Sale-Leaseback Proposal: Should the State Sell Its Office Buildings? - In this analysis, the California Legislative Analyst Office (CLAO) assesses a recently enacted law that allows the Department of General Services (DGS) to sell and then lease back 11 state-owned office properties.  The sale-leaseback transaction would result in an immediate short-term infusion of capital, but would result in much higher annual costs, meaning such "a one-time sale of critical state assets is poor fiscal policy.