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Growing Economy

A Bill of Goods for Taxpayers

This morning's Stateside Dispatch takes an in-depth look at the arbitrary spending caps being considered by legislators and advanced by signature gatherers all over the country. These caps are -- surprise, surprise -- part of a well-coordinated strategy by far-right ideological interests and not -- as they claim -- home-grown ideas.

MN: State Moves to Promote Plug-In Hybrids

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a top-notch Minnesota-based outfit, is proudly declaring victory following Governor Pawlenty's signature of a bill that passed both chambers unanimously. The legislation requires that the state purchase "plug-in hybrids on a preferred basis when they become available." H.F.

OR: Focus on TABOR Ends Bid for Corporate Accountability

The need to fight the horrible TABOR amendment (TABOR=TAxpayer's Bill Of Rights -- a Constitutional spending cap) in Oregon has led a citizen's group to drop their own effort for corporate accountability, acknowledging that the resources that would be spent both by public interest groups and by corporations would be better used to fund a united opposition to TABOR. The corporate accountability measure, which had already turned in over 84,000 signatures, would have

Welfare Does Not Breed Persistent Poverty

One of the stated defenses of cutbacks in aid to poor families in the last decade in the US was the idea that welfare spending traps families in poverty from generation to generation. But new studies, as detailed in this week's Economist magazine (subscription) show that countries with MORE spending on the poor have LESS persistent poverty than in the US.

An Indication of How Out-of-Touch NFIB Is

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) claims to be the national champion of small business.

Corporate Tax Subsidies and Taxpayer Standing

Some court decisions come to the right result for the wrong reasons. Today's Supreme Court decision in DaimlerChrysler v. Cuno is a perfect example. The case involved whether states could offer certain corporate subsidies to entice businesses to open plants. The corporate subsidies involved are terrible policy, but it's just as well that the Supreme Court, especially this increasingly rightwing one, isn't taking on the job of second-guessing economic decisions by state leaders.

TX: Revolving Door Between Texas Leg and Tobacco Lobby

The Dallas Morning News reports this morning on the strength of Texas' tobacco lobby, which is running strong in its efforts to defeat a $1 per pack increase in tobacco taxes. Regardless of the policy, what caught my eye was this paragraph talking about their lobbying team:
Among those working for tobacco giants Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds are the intense and driven Mike Toomey, a former state representative and former chief of staff for Gov.

LA: Katrina Contractors Bilking Taxpayers

They're bilking the federal government, but it is tough to think of a cruder time for fraud by government contractors. The Katrina clean-up is being seen as a chance for contractors to clean-up. Their tools? Layers of contracting, with each layer taking a cut; overstating mileage claims; mixing debris to inflate invoices; and double-billing.

TX: Cleaning Up the School Finance Mess

Facing state Supreme Court decisions demanding both equitable financing of public schools and reforms to the state property tax, the special session in the Lone Star State accomplished one big item of business yesterday-- reforming the bizarre loophole-ridden state franchise tax and actually applying it to a broad range of businesses, thereby lowering the rate but also raising $3.4 billion when it starts in 2008.

NY: Suffolk Co. - Largest Wi-Fi Network in Nation?

While Chicago may surpass it if plans work out, the 1.5 million citizens of Suffolk County could soon have the largest free government-sponsored wi-fi Internet system in the country:
"People could connect to the Internet anytime, any place," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who proposed the plan.