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Corporate Disclosure and Transparency in State Budgets

NJ Privatization Panel Report Pushes Ideology Rather than Facts

Since he took office earlier this year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has waged an ideological war on state employees and programs, and advocated for unsustainable and costly privatization schemes.  Even in light of overwhelming public opposition to privatization and the significant pitfalls associated with these types of initiatives, the Governor established a privatization task force by executive order in early April, seeking to identify $50 million in savings.

MO: Gov. Nixon Creates Commission to Review Tax Credits

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Gov. Jay Nixon has appointed a committee of 25 people to review Missouri's 61 tax credit programs.

Nixon's office said Wednesday that the Tax Credit Review Commission will recommend ways for tax credits to meet their goals more effectively and generate a better return on investment for taxpayers.

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.  

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.

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."

Corporate Transparency: Multi-State Agenda Campaign Update

Dealing with the aftermath of the steepest economic contraction since the Great Depression, including declining tax revenues and massive fiscal gaps, states cannot afford to hand out enormous subsidies, wasteful tax credits or lavish contracts with little to show in return. In response, states across the country have embraced corporate transparency to assure taxpayers are getting value for their money.

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.

Conference Call: Corporate Transparency in the State Budget

When: 
12/04/2009 - 1:00pm

 

Progressive States Network hosted a national conference call on Friday, December 4th at 1:00pm EST with experts and legislative leaders to discuss Corporate Transparency in the State Budget, one of the policies included in PSN's 2010 Shared Multi-State Agenda. Speakers discussed the need for transparency and disclosure, policy details, and best practices for building campaigns and moving corporate transparency initiatives in the states.