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Restricting Privatization

Overview

In a debate too often dominated by rightwing tax cut rhetoric, there is a real opening for progressives to demand a fairer, more accountable tax and budget system.  The public has a strong commitment to funding both social services and the long-term investments needed for economic growth, but state residents are frustrated by governments that they believe tax low- and middle-income residents too much and upper-income residents and corporations too little.  Hidden economic giveaways to companies receiving tax breaks and government contracts only add to voters' suspicion that state budgets serve those with money, not the average taxpayer.  In response, a range of reforms at the state level are creating more transparent tax and budget decisions and strengthening voters' trust that their tax money will actually go towards the important public services that they do support.  These approaches include:

Housing in New Orleans, the Econonomy and Working Families, Broadband, Paid Sick Days, Children in Poverty, Election Inegrity

Despite the good news that New Orleans survived Hurricaine Gustav, the unfortunate reality, as a new report by PolicyLink
details, is that working families there still do not have access to
affordable housing three years after Katrina.  Rental housing is in
especially short supply, with only 2 in 5 affordable damaged rental
units being repaired or replaced with recovery assistance.

Conservativism and the Wrecking of Government as We Know It

This Wednesday, PSN Executive Director Joel Barkin sat down for a phone interview with Thomas Frank, author of the new best selling book, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule.  Their conversation touched on a number of issues surrounding how conservatives have worked over the last decade to dismantle government as we know it in Washington D.C. and throughout the country.

Election Integrity: How We Lost It and How States are Getting It Back

The 2000 presidential election propelled America's problems with our elections into the national spotlight in an unprecedented way.  Americans, night after night, watched news stories exposing the many problems that are routine in elections but that receive little attention: confusing ballots that lead people to mark their vote for the wrong candidate, voter suppression aimed at minorities through voter registration purges, and weary election officials trying to discern voters’ intent on ambiguously marked punch card ballots.

Building a Progressive Majority in the States, 2008

On Monday, July 22nd, over one hundred and fifty state legislators, labor leaders, and advocates participated in "Building a Progressive Majority in the States," a joint annual meeting of the Progressive States Network and the National Labor Caucus.  Taking a cue from the opening plenary on progressive policies for an economic downturn, the conference focused on strategies for confronting the most important issues facing America's working families, including affordable health care, smart immigration policy, workers' rights, green jobs, clean energy, and tax and budget reform.  To address these issues in more depth, PSN policy experts joined state legislative leaders in smaller workshops that gave participants a chance to share best practices and model legislation while developinglegislative priorities and winning strategies for 2009.

Bills that Made a Difference in 2008

Even with many states having short sessions, the 2008 state legislative sessions have already had some impressive milestone victories for families and communities across the country.  This Dispatch covers a few of the key issue victories this year -- and points out that states are still taking the lead on issue after issue.  Most of the bills highlighted became law, while a few, falling short of final passage, were innovative enough and showed enough movement to promise greater things for 2009.

Progressive States Round Table

In a round table discussion coinciding with PSN's annual Gala in New York, PSN members discuss how the progressive movement can leverage opportunities to drive grassroots change not possible at the federal level and highlight recent success on issues ranging from immigration to privatization and health care. The panel includes input from PSN Executive Director Joel Barkin, Texas State Representative and PSN Co-Chair Garnet Coleman, and Javier Morillo-Alicea, president of SEIU Local 26 in Minnesota.

Corporate Influence on State Supreme Courts Show Need for Reform

Over the past decade, elections for state high court seats have gone from sleepy, mildly partisan affairs to major political battles with huge campaign spending, millions in independent special interest advertising, and misleading and negative attacks in the forefront.  TV advertising is now apart of virtually all (91%) contested state supreme court elections, up from about one in five elections in 2000.  And in 2006 business groups were the source of more than 90% of those ads.  Business groups are also the source of almost half of all campaign contributions in these races.

Largest Privatization Deal in U.S. History Proposed for Pennsylvania Turnpike

In the largest privatization deal ever proposed in the United States, a consortium led by Spanish company Abertis Infraestructuras offered $12.8 billion to lease operation of the Pennsylvania Turnpike for 75 years.  The deal would allow the company to immediately hike tolls 25 percent and then increase tolls each year thereafter up to the rate of inflation.