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Wage Law Enforcement State Trend: Illinois Becomes Most Recent State to Crack Down on Wage Theft

A crime wave has been sweeping Illinois, with surveys of low-wage workers in the Chicago area showing an average of 146,300 cases of wage theft each week -- resulting in about $7.3 million each week in unpaid wages, or $380 million stolen from workers each year.  In order to crack down on this criminal wage theft, the Illinois General Assembly on May 3 nearly unanimously (56-0 in the Senate and 112-1 in the House) passed SB 3568, which will strengthen the state’s ability to enforce violations of the Wage Payment and Collection Act.

Budget Transparency Advances Across Country

Last week, the Massachusetts House unanimously passed the Revenues and Expenditures Transparency Act, H 2972, to create a searchable, online database that details state spending and revenue sources.  Lawmakers also approved an amendment to create greater taxpayer accountability by providing increased transparency around some business tax credits.  As House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Revenue Rep. Jay Kauffman explains, "[p]ublic access to the way we raise and spend money is essential, enabling us to make more-informed decisions for the tax-paying constituents who elect us to serve on their behalf."

Public Employees Earn Substantially Less than Private Sector Counterparts

Refuting right-wing attacks on state workers, a new report by the National Institute for Retirement Security (NIRS) and the Council on State and Local Government Excellence (CSGE), Out of Balance? Comparing Public and Private Sector Compensation Over 20 Years, demonstrates that state and local employees earn an average of 11 and 12 percent less, respectively, than comparable private sector workers.

Workplace Tragedies Point to Need for States to Take Lead in Workplace Safety

April has seen two major industrial accidents that have captured the national eye. Explosions at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia and the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana claimed the lives of forty workers and injured thirty-eight. Much of the media attention on these tragedies has focused on the culpability of employers and enforcement capacity at federal agencies responsible for regulating mine and offshore drilling safety. However, there are proactive steps states can take to address occupational safety hazards and ensure people do not have to sacrifice their personal safety in exchange for a paycheck.