Monthly Archives: March 2008

Three Web Sites For the Public Policy Cognoscenti

Center for American Progress

“The Center for American Progress is a progressive think-tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action. We are creating a long-term, progressive vision for America—a vision that policy makers, thought-leaders and activists can use to shape the national debate and pass laws that make a difference. The Center for American Progress is headed by John D. Podesta, former chief of staff to President William J. Clinton and a professor at Georgetown University Center of Law.”

The Center for American Progress covers a vast array of contemporary policy issues ranging from “Credit and Debt” and Bioethics and Science” to “Homeland Security” and even a special section of “Cartoons.” There are newsletters galore, and enough thoughtful analysis on this site to keep you busy for weeks. You really have to visit the site for yourself to appreciate what it has to offer. Read the rest of this entry

Holding Congress Accountable Via

Since 2003, the non-partisan Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (DMI) has issued annual scorecards analyzing the impact of domestic legislation on America’s current and aspiring middle class and evaluating Members of Congress based on their votes on this legislation.

But once a year just isn’t enough. We need to understand what Congress is voting on as they are voting on it if we truly want to hold them accountable. And so [DMI has] created, a dynamic site that will update throughout the year as members of Congress vote on legislation of significance to the current and aspiring middle class. Read the rest of this entry

Washington State to Hold Insurance Companies Accountable

On Friday [February 29, 2008], the Washington State Legislature enacted SB 5261 which will restore state oversight of the individual health insurance market. The law authorizes the Insurance Commissioner to disapprove unreasonable rate increases and establishes a sliding-scale medical loss ratio for insurers.

As Families USA discusses, medical loss ratios require insurers to spend a certain amount of premium revenue on direct medical care. These laws help ensure more of our premiums are used on medical care and less on administrative costs, including profits and bonuses. The Washington bill sets up a tiered loss ratio that is tied to the number of people an insurer denies for coverage. For example, a rate of denial under 6% equals a loss ratio of 74%, meaning 74-cents of every premium dollar must be spent on medical care. Insurance companies that deny coverage to more people, more than 8% for example, face a loss ratio of 77%. Read the rest of this entry

Teacher Pay Penalty in Alaska: 16%

At a time of national debate over ways to improve the performance of America’s schools, a new report reveals a trend that undermines chances of reaching that goal: a large and growing pay penalty for those who choose to become public school teachers. Over the last decade, the teacher pay gap increased 10.8 percentage points—from a 4.3 percent shortfall for teachers in 1996 to 15.1 percent in 2006.  According to Table B-4, Public school teacher and college graduate weekly wages, by state, the teacher pay penalty in Alaska is 16%.

The Teaching Penalty: Teacher Pay Losing Ground, published today by the Economic Policy Institute, provides a detailed analysis of trends in teacher pay. In 1960 women teachers had an annual wage advantage, of 14.7 percent compared to other similarly educated women. This annual pay difference was reversed to a 13.2 percent annual wage deficit by 2000. Read the rest of this entry

Anchorage Citizens Coalition: Hard Questions About Quality of Life


  • Six seats on Anchorage’s eleven member Assembly are to be elected April 1.
  • The current Assembly consistently votes against comprehensive plan goals and strategies, favoring auto driven sprawl over transit and sensible land use, air pollution over emission controls, big box malls over neighborhood shopping centers, and wide, fast streets over safe walking.
  • Candidates should read Anchorage 2020, the city’s adopted comprehensive plan before running for office.
  • Critically important Title 21 Chapters will be decided by the new assembly including Design Standards and perhaps Zoning Districts, Land Uses, and Dimensional Standards.

Will Assembly candidates support: Read the rest of this entry