The Republican-controlled U.S. House passed a bill today, backed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), that would supposedly grant small businesses a 20 percent tax cut. However the bill would actually be a $46 billion giveaway to the rich. The bill was approved on a 235-173 vote, with 18 Democrats voting in favor and 10 Republicans voting against.
Archive for April 19th, 2012
According to a new Brookings Institution Report
First in Zoning Restrictions
First in Economic Segregation
First in Housing Cost Gap
First in Test Score Gap (between low-income and middle/high income students)
Wow! First in all 4 categories measured!
The underlying paper argues that exclusionary zoning is the major factor contributing to the test score gap:
Eliminating exclusionary zoning in a metro area would, by reducing its housing cost gap, lower its school test-score gap by an estimated 4 to 7 percentiles—a significant share of the observed gap between schools serving the average low-income versus middle/higher-income student. As the nation grapples with the growing gap between rich and poor and an economy increasingly reliant on formal education, public policies should address housing market regulations that prohibit all but the very affluent from enrolling their children in high-scoring public schools in order to promote individual social mobility and broader economic security.
But his silence pretty strongly says there is:
by Jon Pelto from Wait, What
The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc (ConnCAN) and the other groups pushing Governor Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill continue to claim that a vital portion of the bill is the “Commissioner’s Network” in which Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education is given unprecedented powers to take over up to 25 schools, fire the staff, ban collective bargaining, turn the schools over to some unnamed third-party who will then be exempt from Connecticut’s laws limiting the use of consultants and the law requiring competitive bidding.
ConnCAN CEO Patrick Riccards was recently quoted as saying that teachers at Network Schools would not be fired because the could “re-apply” for their jobs at the “Network School” or that if they not want to reapply or were not chosen, they would be placed elsewhere in their home districts.
The problem with the his rationalization is that his statement is simply untrue.
The following IS THE language that Governor Malloy introduced and the language the ConnCAN and the other groups are demanding be put back into the bill.
“(B) Any teacher or administrator assigned to a school prior to its designation as a commissioner’s network school (i) may apply for a position in such school after such school has been designated as a commissioner’s network school, and (ii) if electing not to apply for or if not selected for a position in the commissioner’s network school, shall be assigned or transferred to an available position at another school under the jurisdiction of the local or regional board of education for which such teacher or administrator is assigned…”
The operative language is “shall be assigned or transferred to an available position…”
Let’s say there are a total of 90 administrators and teachers in the targeted school. Assuming the school district had 10 openings elsewhere in the system then the language appears to require the town to transfer 10 of the 90 teachers leaving the remaining 80 employees without jobs.
The bill is so poorly written that it is possible that “Education Reformers” meant to write that all 90 administrators and teachers must be reassigned but this alternative would be equally problematic.
Assume, for the moment, that 90 administrators and teachers (including salary, benefits and related school expenses would cost a town in excess of about $9 million dollars).
Since the town must maintain all funding to the “network school” even though the local board of education will have no authority over that schools (maintaining local funding is another mandate of the bill), then reassigning the 90 employees will increase the local school budget by $9 million dollars.
Since town will not be receiving any addition funding from the state to cover that cost, local taxpayers will face an extraordinary increase in local property taxes and/or the level of education services to the towns remaining children will have to be dramatically cut back to make room for this new expenditure. (Even a big city would be unlikely to find enough cuts to cover that type of increase).
The fact is, the language of Malloy’s bill DOES NOT protect the teachers in the Network School and if the language was “corrected” to do what the “education reformers” claim that the bill does, the impact to local property taxes would be unimaginably high and politically impossible to achieve.
And yet, Riccards and the rest of them keep saying that the employees of the “Network School” would be completely protected.
Legislation pending in the U.S. House of Representatives that is being falsely touted as improving U.S. border security would instead “have the potential to devastate 54 of America’s national parks, historic sites, national monuments and other popular park icons and negatively impact the nation’s economy,” according to a warning issued today by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR). H.R. 1505, the mistitled “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act,” would gut a century’s worth of proven federal lands protection, potentially opening up millions of pristine acres of national parks to off-road vehicle use, road construction, air strips and helipads, fencing, base installations, and other disruptions.\
This radical legislation introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) would suspend the enforcement of almost all the nation’s environmental laws on all lands under the jurisdiction of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture within 100 miles of the northern border with Canada and the southern border with Mexico. It would change the targeted national park and other federal areas into security zones and leave priceless resources unprotected. Such dramatic changes to the integrity of our national parks and forests would almost certainly damage local economies, which have evolved to depend on the tourism, jobs, and related economic benefits generated by these national assets. Why would families seeking the natural and cultural wonders and transformative outdoor experiences of our national parks choose to visit such Border Patrol-controlled areas criss-crossed by new roads, penetrated by noisy all-terrain vehicles, and dominated by tactical infrastructure?
Among the National Park Service areas that fall within H.R. 1505′s proposed 100-mile zone of potential devastation are Acadia, Big Bend, Carlsbad Caverns, Cuyahoga Valley, Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Guadalupe Mountains, Isle Royale, Joshua Tree, North Cascades, Olympic, Saguaro, Theodore Roosevelt, Voyageurs, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The combined total acreage of these 15 parks is 21,657,399, nearly 25 percent of the overall footprint U.S. National Park System. They are located within the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
CNPSR Chair Maureen Finnerty said: “This legislative proposal is perhaps the most direct assault on national parks ever to be advanced at any level in any Congress in U.S. history. It threatens to literally stop all enforcement of several landmark environmental and conservation laws that NPS uses to manage and protect the National Park System and to serve millions of park visitors. The outrage here is that national parks and other U.S. crown jewels could end up being trashed in the name of achieving national security gains that are fictitious.”
Among the 36 laws that would be expressly suspended within 100 miles of the borders with Canada and Mexico are virtually all environmental, historic preservation, wildlife, pollution, and tribal protection laws, including the National Park Service Organic Act, 1916 (the act that requires park areas to be managed for conservation and enjoyment so as to leave them unimpaired); the Wilderness Act, 1964; the National Environmental Policy Act, 1969; the National Historic Preservation Act, 1966; the Endangered Species Act, 1973; the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts; the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, 1979. All these laws are critically important to maintaining the integrity of America’s national parks.
H.R. 1505′s remaining provisions are no less extreme. For example, the bill independently provides “immediate access” to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for road, equipment, and infrastructure construction and motorized vehicle use on national parks and all the other lands under the jurisdiction of both the Secretary of Agriculture, home of the U.S. Forest Service, and the Secretary of the Interior, home of the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. In addition, the bill prohibits these Secretaries from “impeding, prohibiting or restricting activities of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol” on national parks or any of the other lands. Thus, even without the cynical waiver of virtually all environmental laws within 100 miles of the northern and southern borders, this bill achieves essentially the same result, and applies throughout the entire United States, through its remaining provisions.
Furthermore, in light of the interagency collaboration and achievements made under existing authorities, this harmful legislation is not needed. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified on March 8, 2012, that the bill “is unnecessary, and it’s bad policy.” And officials from the U.S. Border Patrol testified against the bill in Congress on July 8, 2011, explaining that “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enjoys a close working relationship with the Department of Interior (DOI) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allows us to fulfill our border enforcement responsibilities while respecting and enhancing the environment. We respect the missions of these agencies, and we recognize the importance of preserving the American landscape. Our agencies have formed a number of agreements that allow us to carry out both of these missions. CBP believes that efforts to reduce the number of illegal aliens crossing the border have lessened environmental degradation and have assisted with recovery of damaged resources, and we are fully committed to continuing our cooperative relationships with DOI and USDA to further this good work.”
H.R. 1505 is only one of several pending bills that similarly threaten national parks and other park, refuge, and wilderness lands under the jurisdiction of the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture in the name of border security. For example, Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Kyl (R-AZ) and Representative Quayle (R-AZ) are sponsoring amendments to the authorization legislation for the Department of Homeland Security that would have also have devastating impacts on national parks and other Federally protected lands and are unwarranted for national security.
CNPSR’s Finnerty pointed out that “while the other bills do not have the express waiver of virtually all environmental laws like H.R. 1505, they accomplish essentially the same result by allowing the Border Patrol to make decisions on activities like motorized patrol and construction of roads and infrastructure in national park and other conservation areas. It may be that these bills are too radical for Congress to pass or the President to sign as stand-alone bills, thus making it the far greater danger that Congress will tack the park-wrecking provisions onto another must-sign piece of legislation, like an appropriations bill. All these bills are terrible policy, unnecessary for national security, and must be stopped.”
Yesterday, the House Agriculture Committee marked up a bill to meet the instructions in the House Majority’s recently passed budget to cut $33.2 billion from programs in its jurisdiction over ten years. The Republicans proposed and reported out a bill that would take all of the funding cuts from the food stamp program, ignoring all other programs within their jurisdiction. The food stamp program is designed to expand when Americans need it most – in times of economic recession. It kept more than 5 million Americans out of poverty in 2010.
In December 2011, more than 46 million Americans relied on food stamps to put food on their tables. More than half of food stamp benefits go to households with an income less than half of the poverty line, or $9,265 for a family of three. Nearly 75% of food stamp participants are families with children and 25% are in households with seniors or individuals with disabilities.
“Our economy was driven into the ground by the choices made in the last Administration. Now, the Majority wants to add insult to injury by taking away a valuable program that helps millions of American families put food on their tables.” said Congresswoman DeLauro “Incredibly these $33.2 billion in cuts would come on top of the cuts assumed in the Republican budget. Those cuts would slash food stamps by another $133.5 billion and fundamentally downgrade the program from one that is responsive to the needs of Americans to an inadequate block grant.
Leadership is about making choices,” DeLauro said. “The Majority has made the choice to take more than $160 billion from food stamps – from the mouths of millions of hungry Americans – while preserving tax breaks for millionaires and subsidies for big agriculture companies. The bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee today is just the beginning.”