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Making Corporations Pay Their Fair Share

Tax and Budget Reform: Policy Options for 2011 to Address the Revenue Crisis in the States

Although the recession may have technically subsided at the national level, states are still reeling from historic budget shortfalls, stubbornly high unemployment, and significant revenue declines and will continue to face fiscal challenges in the upcoming year.  The lingering effects of the downturn have forced state lawmakers to consider extreme fiscal measures to confront budgetary constraints.  What’s more, states have already utilized a substantial portion of the federal funds available for state fiscal relief through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). 

These dire circumstances merit progressive tax and budget policy as a means to provide essential services, make critical investments in long-term growth areas, support working and middle-class families who have been disproportionately hit by the impact of the downturn, and ensure that all taxpayers are contributing their fair share.  

Clean and Fair Elections: Policy Options for 2011

This policy guide presents a series of election and governance reforms that are essential to both invigorating our democracy and achieving other progressive goals, including: Reducing the Influence of Money on our Democracy, Growing the Electorate, Making Every Vote Count and Resisting Vote Suppression by the Right-Wing

2010 Legislative Roundup: Minnesota

This year marked another contentious legislative session for Minnesota, marked by gubernatorial vetoes and tough negotiations over the budget and healthcare.  In the end, Gov. Pawlenty vetoed twenty bills, bringing his eight-year total to 96. This year's vetoes included a wide range of measures, from a bill enabling same-sex partners to make end-of-life decisions, to a medical marijuana bill, to a bill that would have supported local government and non-profit innovation efforts.  Painful budget cuts and cost deferrals left the state's financial picture for 2012 and beyond uncertain, but legislators did manage to move important measures on broadband, energy conservation, and consumer protection, as well as a billion-dollar bonding measure that will create some jobs to cushion losses in other areas.

2010 Legislative Session Roundup: Illinois

Despite a crippling budget crisis — which has proven so divisive that adjournment of the legislature was postponed in order to reach a consensus on the 2011 budget — Illinois managed to pass a few truly progressive pieces of legislation.  But gains by low-wage workers, nursing home residents, low-income communities, and renewable energy producers were offset by atrocious pension reforms impacting teachers and other state employees, as well as a state budget that hardly solves any problems.

State Revenue Increases Across the Nation Continue to Ease Pain of Downturn

As this Dispatch will detail, these votes mirror actions taking place in both conservative and progressive states and localities around the country.  In 2009 and 2010, states have enacted a wide-ranging set of revenue increases to cope with cumulative 2010 and 2011 deficits of approximately $375 billion.  Although revenue forecasts are improving, states are still reeling from historic declines in the past year.

What is remarkable is that the anti-tax movement has wracked up such regular failures in the crisis, as even many state leaders previously signing "no taxes" pledges have reneged on them.   Instead, popular demand for new revenue to avert budget cuts has driven legislative movement on progressive tax and budget policy.

Adding to the general public support has been research consistently showing that progressive revenue increases during a downturn is a better alternative to cuts in order to promote growth and protect vulnerable populations suffering during the recession.

Finally, this Dispatch will outline some of the effective messaging and research to demonstrate to voters that progressive measures and tax increases are economically sound and go to the programs they want preserved -- the critical step in the success of revenue campaigns.

2010 Legislative Session Roundup: Wisconsin

In a year dominated by issues of job creation, child care reform, and discussions of how to expand mass transit, Wisconsin also made fantastic strides in efforts to green the state, protect pedestrians, create domestic partnership benefits, and ease the consequences of license suspension on low-income communities.

Tax Day: With Middle Income Families Paying Less Federal Taxes, States Have More Leeway for Revenue Increases

As states struggle to close budget gaps, it's worth highlighting that due to tax changes at the federal level, most middle income families are paying a far smaller percentage of their income in federal taxes than they did a few years ago.  So while states should concentrate revenue increases on those who can most afford it, there is greater capacity among middle income families to absorb some tax increases due to the lower federal tax burden.

Revenue Options in 2010: Making the Case and Debunking the Myths

Last Tuesday, Oregonians overwhelmingly approved two ballot initiatives that ratified legislative action last year to increase high-end personal income and corporate taxes.  The failure of the anti-tax movement in Oregon is one more in a long stream of right-wing initiatives rejected by voters at the ballot box.  In fact, progressive revenue generation as part of a balanced approach to addressing state deficits has been popular with both voters and legislatures for years.  This Dispatch will provide both the facts and messages to debunk opposition to smart revenue options, while outlining a few of the best revenue approaches to filling budget holes.

States Act to Limit Judicial Ruling Allowing Corporations to Spend Directly to Elect or Defeat Candidates

Portending a sharp increase in corporate political spending, the Supreme Court has ruled (Citizens United v. FEC) that corporations enjoy the same speech rights of citizens when it comes to advocating the election or defeating political candidates. Elected officials, including U.S. President Barack Obama, have denounced the ruling as striking at the heart of our democracy by putting corporations on an equal footing with real people when it comes to basic constitutional rights.