When Progressive States Network (PSN) discussed gains in progressive power in legislative chambers around the country back in November,
one of the question marks was what would happen in the Texas House.
Earlier this week, that question was largely resolved when it was announced
that rightwing Speaker Tom Craddick no longer had the votes to be
reelected. Instead, a majority coalition, including most House
Democrats and a growing number of Republicans, decided to support
Republican Joe Straus from San Antonio as the new speaker.
Last year we saw the incredible wave of voter ID legislation promoted
nationwide by rightwing activists seem to peter out. High profile
campaigns for restrictive photo ID and proof-of-citizenship
requirements, which limit the voting of many legal citizens were met with defeat. But the proponents of voter ID have apparently not been deterred.
As states face mounting deficits, corporate lobbyists have been promoting the idea that privatization of public services and assets is a free lunch -- services can be delivered more cheaply than by public employees and public assets like highways can be sold or leased for a hefty return to the taxpayer. As PSN has detailed in our December 2007 report Privatizing in the Dark: The Pitfalls of Privatization & Why Budget Disclosure is Needed, the promises of privatization too often yield to a reality of lost money and degraded services, weak oversight and lost expertise, assets sold off for short-term gains but long-term loss, lost democratic accountability, and the corruption of the political process.
According to a new study by Good Jobs First, state and local governments lost over $1billion in sales tax revenue
last year as a result of laws that allow retailers to retain a
percentage of the sales tax they collect.
Once the sleepy backwater of electoral politics, judicial elections
have recently become a battleground where right wing and corporate
groups spend large sums to fill the courts with jurists who will
support their interests. This is perhaps the most troubling example of
money corrupting our politics, because instead of pay-to-play politics
it gives us pay-to-win justice. The independence of the judiciary
simply cannot be maintained in an environment where jurists are
competing for votes in high-priced, bare-knuckle political brawls.
The benefits of a post-secondary degree are plentiful. For example, an employee with a four year college degree earns 60 percent more than a worker with only a high school diploma. Paying for college, however, has become a daunting task and strain for many American students and families. The cost of higher education across the country is rapidly increasing, at almost double the rate of inflation, outpacing increases in financial aid and many families ability to pay. The combination of these factors result in too many students being unable to earn or complete their degrees due to financial constraints.