like $2.1 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start Programs, $1.5
billion for health center improvements, and $8.4 billion for public
transit, should be implemented with a clear intent of reducing racial
and ethnic health disparities and achieving equitable resource
distribution across communities.
After resisting the proposal for months, New York Governor Patterson has agreed with legislative leaders to raise income taxes on the wealthiest state residents in order to help close the state budget gap. “It’s a profound breakthrough for tax fairness,” said Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party, an organization of New York individuals, labor unions and other groups that was a leader in the campaign to raise the tax rates. The New York deal is part of a national movement of state leaders looking to raise new revenue from high-income residents to avoid budget cuts and fund needed investments for long-term economic recovery.
The new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contains significant funding for the states, but it also has tight new transparency rules requiring states to track how all federal funds are being spent and the number of jobs created. These provisions aren't just ethically desirable, they are extremely practical fiscal measures for combating the recession and growing the economy. Strict transparency can save states millions in unnecessary expenditures and increase the quality of work they receive from private contractors, while simultaneously ensuring that contractors create quality, decent-paying jobs to help turn the economy around.
The unfortunate reality is that most states are not collecting the necessary information to meet the standards required by the Recovery Act. This Dispatch is designed to summarize what states need to do.
Recognizing the severity of the economic crisis our nation faces, President Obama this week signed the landmark American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a plan aimed at "restoring or saving" 3.5 million jobs and investing in the long-term future of the American economy.
Built into the plan is a recognition that, while the federal government will assist in funding the work, the implementation of the plan will rest mostly with the states. This Dispatch provides facts, guidance and a collection of resources to state leaders and advocates on how to implement the recovery plan in a strategic manner that strengthens our states and honors our progressive values.
For years, states have increasingly seen their hands tied by a federal government declaring that preemption voids state consumer, environmental and labor rights laws. The Bush administration in particular used its regulatory authority aggressively to block state law after state law.
The results have been catastrophic. Despite the myth that "no one saw the subprime meltdown coming," the reality is that thirty states enacted laws to rein in abuses by predatory lenders. However, the Bush administration used its regulatory authority over banks to shut down most of those predatory lending laws in the courts. This is just the most dramatic example of how preemption allowed the federal government to enforce its own inaction on state governments at the behest of corporate interests.