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.
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.
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
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
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