Monthly Archives: February 2011

Blueprint: Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Middle Class

While Americans continue to look for jobs, the economy itself has been growing for six quarters. Instead of creating jobs to put millions of Americans back to work, big banks and corporations continue to amass wealth at the taxpayers’ expense. As industries that once employed vast swaths of our population continue to disappear, and as other nations continue to move full speed ahead in the race to a new green economy, advancing policies that promote and invest in green jobs here at home is more critical than ever.  The demand is clear.  In fact, a recent Pew Research Center poll shows that 84 percent of respondents cite the job crisis as their top priority, significantly outpacing worries about the budget deficit and health care costs. Americans desperately want to see real investments in job creation, and they want to see it now.

As part of Progressive States Network’s Blueprint for Economic Security 2011, we have identified three common-sense, progressive solutions to create jobs and strengthen the middle class: Green Jobs Workforce Development programs, Energy Efficient Schools and Buildings, and innovative Financing Mechanisms that leverage public and private investment in clean energy and energy efficiency. These policy solutions are part of legislation that has been proven to create and sustain jobs, made our work and living environments healthier, and spurred economic growth for our communities, including options to provide financing without delving into state budgets.

[Directly excerpted from Progressive States Network on February 23, 2011. Click to read the full report.]

Don’t Miss Out! Register To Vote! Deadline is March 6, 2011

The next Municipal Election is April 5, 2011

March 6, 2011 is the deadline to register to vote or, update your voter registration for the 2011 Regular Municipal Election. Voters must be registered to vote in Anchorage 30 days before the Municipal Election. Residents who are 17 years and 9 months old can register to vote prior to the election as long they are 18 on April 5, 2011, Election Day.

Voter registration forms can be found online at http://ltgov.state.ak.us/elections, the Municipal Clerk’s Office or call the Alaska Division of Elections at 907-522-8683.
 
Absentee voting is available by mail, fax and in person. Applications for absentee by mail and fax can be printed here OR can be mailed to you by calling 243-VOTE (8683). Special needs requests can be received by phone or mail.

Absentee Voting will take place March 21- April 4 at City Hall and at the Loussac Library; and March 27 – April 4, at the Chugiak Senior Center.
 
Election Day absentee in person locations are ONLY at the Anchorage International Airport South Terminal and at the University of Alaska/Anchorage Student Center. City Hall and the Loussac Library do not serve as absentee locations on Election Day.
 
All these details are available by visiting www.muni.org/elections or by calling the Municipal Clerk’s office at 243-VOTE.

Repealing Health Reform’s Maintenance of Effort Provision Could Cause Millions of Children, Parents, Seniors, and People With Disabilities to Lose Coverage

A number of Republican governors have asked Congress to repeal the maintenance of effort provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which generally requires states to hold coverage steady in their Medicaid and CHIP programs until 2014. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a paper that highlights the harmful effects such a repeal would have on children, working parents, and the economy.

 

[The full paper, released on February 10, 2011 from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, can be downloaded here.]

 

Report: A Guide to Evaluating Public Asset Privatization

In response to the fiscal crisis in cities and states across the country, governments are considering the privatization of core public assets.  In Chicago, the city “sold” its parking meters to a private consortium of Wall Street investors for an upfront payment of $1.15 billion.  Since then, parking rates have significantly risen, while meter maintenance quality has declined.  In Arizona, the state “sold” its state capitol and several other government buildings, only to immediately lease them back at a higher rate.  While these deals brought in a short-term infusion of cash, they failed to address long-term budget problems.
 
Unfortunately, these outcomes are not unique to Chicago or Arizona.  In many of these deals, the public has been on the losing side – loss of control, increased user fees, loss of jobs, lower quality infrastructure, and future budget woes are just a few problems that communities have experienced following asset privatization. 
 
In any proposed asset privatization deal, there are key questions that should be asked by those who want to ensure that the public interest is protected and advanced.  In The Public Interest, a resource center on privatization and responsible contracting, has published a guide that gives basic information about asset privatization deals, and provide examples of important questions that should be asked and explored when faced with a proposed privatization effort.

[Excerpted from In The Public Interest on February 13, 2011. Download the full report  here.]

Book Review- The Political Economy of Oil in Alaska: Multinationals vs. the State

In The Political Economy of Oil in Alaska: Multinationals vs. the State, four University of Alaska professors tackle a question daunting in breadth and import: How has a young and sparsely populated northern state managed its relationship with the multinational corporations (MNCs) that developed the largest oil production complex in the United States, including its transportation arm? The answers play out dramatically on a rapidly changing northern stage, where economic, environmental, and social decisions are made in remote political centres; Native interests are integral to the tapestry. Described by its authors as “a comprehensive study of an often contentious alliance” (277), this book is a collaborative effort that contains a wealth of documented historical information and interesting insights. It will be used by students of economic, social, and environmental issues in the North and elsewhere. But the sanguine conclusion – that Alaska’s state government has developed the institutional strength and regulatory skills necessary to negotiate and implement resource policy on an almost equal footing with the MNCs – is seriously undermined by contradictions and gaping holes in its methodology and its empirical foundations.

The book’s central premise – that the state of Alaska now defends its public interests “on a more or less equal footing with the oil and gas industry” (20) – is rendered suspect by contradictions, omissions, and skewed conclusions, and by countervailing evidence the book itself presents, including industry financing of political campaigns and serious doubts about environmental regulatory effectiveness. The authors thank British Petroleum and ConocoPhillips for financial support during the project’s final stage; I do not see this as evidence of corruption. Nevertheless, this book’s shortcomings demonstrate the need to exercise great care and independence when working in this arcane and complex arena. Researchers can make a significant contribution to the study of petroleum development by utilizing Alaska’s celebrated (but relative) transparency to identify information process and data deficiencies, as well as the subtle but pervasive powers of oil industry seduction.

[Excerpted from Fineberg Researach on February 4, 2011. View  the full book review at The Oil Patch.]

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