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Indexing Minimum Wage to Inflation Critical for Low-Income Working Families

Washington State minimum wage workers got a raise January 1st to $8.55 per hour -- now the highest minimum wage in the country.   Like nine other states, Washington automatically increases its minimum wage each year at the rate of inflation to make sure families don't face a de facto pay cut as rising costs eat into family budgets.  Because the federal minimum wage is not indexed to inflation in this way, we have seen a decline in its value from $9.34 in inflation-adjusted dollars down to just $6.55 per hour this past year.  This trend highlights why state efforts to index the minimum wage to keep up with inflation are so critical.

Policy Checklist for the New State Legislative Sessions

With legislative sessions getting underway around the country, this Dispatch provides a list of key bills and policies that we encourage legislators to consider introducing.  While not exhaustive of the range of needed reforms in states, they emphasize initiatives of strategic importance that are being considered in multiple states.  Working with our various partners, Progressive States Network is providing staff support for these policies and will work to use movement in multiple states to generate national media and attention.  This in turn will create greater momentum to assist individual states in pushing bills to passage.  The following is a quick checklist of key policies with links to model legislation and policy summaries.

Privatization Update: Recent News from across the Country

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.

Report: Stop Retailers Pocketing over $1 Billion in Sales Tax Revenue

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.

Rising Unemployment Highlights Need for Federal Expansion of Unemployment Insurance Funds

While the financial crisis has received more of the headlines, there has been a growing unemployment crisis over the last year.  With unemployment at a five-year high, nearly 10 million Americans were officially unemployed last month, with nearly 500,000 workers applying for benefits each week.  And the problem doesn't stop there, with long-term joblessness rising: