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Reform Government Contracts and Restrict Privatization

Buy American and Fair Trade Policies to Spur National and Global Economic Recovery

As this Dispatch will outline, Buy American policies are a first step in promoting an alternative to the trade and deregulation policies that fueled the current economic crisis.  Ultimately, we need policies that strengthen local tools for economic growth at home, combined with fair trade policies to raise wage standards abroad as well.   Also, as corporate interests increasingly use trade agreements to restrict state authority to protect worker, consumer and environmental interests, states are increasingly reviewing those trade agreements in order to restore states' ability to effectively respond to economic crises and protect the long-term interests of working families.

Privatization Update: Schools, Prisons, Mental Health -- and What States are Doing to Hold Contractors Accountable

Given the central role of private contractors in delivering public services, this Dispatch continues our series of Privatization Updates (see November's edition). Today we focus on current privatization debates in the education, prison and mental health sectors -- and what states are doing to increase accountability for contractors.

Accounting for jobs in the stimulus cash

In order to comply with new transparency requirements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, state governments across the country are scrambling to report to the public how they spend recovery dollars. Unfortunately, no existing state government Web sites that are accounting for the recovery funds report the number of jobs created by private contractors. Without such data, the sites are close to meaningless.

Fortunately, Oregon is leading an effort to require contractors to report the number of jobs they create, as well as the hours worked and wages received by their employees. These proposed requirements would ensure Oregonians' tax money actually goes toward creating quality jobs.

Concerns raised about black access to stimulus funding

President Barack Obama's $787 billion federal stimulus package, now known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, is designed to jumpstart the nation's failing economy not only through grants and middle-class tax cuts, but by funding state ''shovel-ready'' construction projects that will hopefully produce thousands of jobs and small business opportunities, especially in the black community.

Just last week, Pres. Obama unveiled new proposals to allow small businesses easier access to loans and capital through the US Small Business Administration in an effort to empower them to take better advantage of stimulus package opportunities.

But even before North Carolina fully determines how to distribute its $6.1 billion in federal stimulus funding, questions are being raised as to how African-Americans can best access their share of the opportunity pot.