Category Archives: Websites/Databases/Blogs

States Perform

Source: Council of State Governments, 2017

States Perform provides users with access to interactive, customizable and up-to-date comparative performance measurement data for 50 states in six key areas: fiscal and economic, public safety and justice, energy and environment, transportation, health and human services, and education. Compare performance across a few or all states, profile one state, view trends over time, and customize your results with graphs and maps.

The Fiscal Ship

Source: Brookings Institution – Hutchins Center, Woodrow Wilson Center – Serious Games Initiative, 2017

The Fiscal Ship challenges you to put the federal budget on a sustainable course. Measured as a share of gross domestic product, the federal debt is higher than at any time since the end of World War II and projected to climb to unprecedented levels. America is looking at a permanent, growing mismatch between revenues and spending, and policymakers are faced with difficult decisions about how to reconcile important government priorities—including retirement and health benefits promised to the growing number of old folks—with the tax revenues that the current tax code will yield. Today’s tax code won’t yield enough revenue to pay for basic services of government plus the retirement and health benefits promised to the growing number of old folks. So your mission is to pick from a menu of tax and spending options to reduce the debt from projected levels over the next 25 years. Small changes to spending and taxes won’t suffice. The choices are difficult, but the goal is achievable.

But budget decisions aren’t only about fiscal sustainability. They also shape the kind of country we live in. To win the game, you need to find a combination of policies that match your values and priorities AND set the budget on a sustainable course….

A New Panel Database on Business Incentives for Economic Development Offered by State and Local Governments in the United States

Source: Timothy J. Bartik, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, Upjohn project no. 34435, February 2017

From the http://www.upjohn.org/models/bied/maps/ReportFinal.pdf“>summary:
This report outlines a new database that contains better information on state and local business taxes and economic development incentives. It includes an explanation of how the database is constructed, and it subjects the database to some preliminary analyses to begin to answer questions about how incentives vary.

The report begins with a section providing context, including reviews of previous research. It then outlines the methodology and data sources for the database. The bulk of the report uses the database to describe incentives and how they vary by industry and state, over time, and by type of incentive. The report also considers how different policies alter net taxes after incentives, and it describes some simple correlations between taxes, incentives, and state economic characteristics and trends.

The accompanying appendices provide additional details on methodology and data, comparisons with other studies, time patterns of incentives and taxes for each state in the database, and much more.
Related:
Appendices
Database

Attention, State Government Watchdogs: You Might Need This

Source: Linda Poon, CityLab, February 9, 2017

A new search engine called Digital Democracy can comb through videos, transcripts, and records of what goes on in America’s statehouses. … Some of this kind of information is recorded, but little is released in a timely manner or can be easily accessed by the public. Blakeslee aims to change that with Digital Democracy, an online tool that archives every state hearing in California—and now, New York—since 2015 through videos, transcripts, and records of who said what. The tool also keeps track of elected officials and their financial ties to lobbyists and big corporations—all searchable by name, issue, bill number, etc. Think of it as Google for state government. … First launched in 2015 in California with cofounder and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, the tool is now being taken across the country to New York via a partnership with NAACP. Digital Democracy now has information on some 15,000 individuals involved in policymaking in those two states. Eventually, Florida and Texas will get their own platforms, expanding Digital Democracy’s reach to roughly a third of all U.S. citizens….

FedWeb.com

Source: Federal Budget Group LLC, 2017

….This website is dedicated to providing policymakers, the media, and the general public timely and reliable information that is strictly nonpartisan, rigorously factual, and explained in plain English. On the pages of this website, you will find: a chronology of key developments in fiscal, spending, tax and economic policy; up-to-the-minute real-time numbers on the the economy and monetary policy; links to the Budget of the United States and other budget docs; an overview of Federal spending and nonpartisan explanations of federal programs including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and other Mandatory spending programs; Defense Discretionary Spending, and Non-Defense Discretionary programs; Deficits and Debt projections; explanation of the Federal Debt Ceiling; and CBO Deficit Reduction Options; details on taxes, tax reform and tax expenditures; fact-checking on current spending and tax issues; a plain English explanation of the congressional budget process and links to State budgets; and FedWeb blogs (sign-up above) that drill-down on key issues…..

What everyone should know about their state’s budget

Source: Urban Institute, 2017
[tool was funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation]

State and local governments educate schoolchildren, train the future workforce, care for the sick and elderly, build roads, patrol neighborhoods, extinguish fires, and maintain parks. In short, they’re pretty important. But few Americans understand where their state and local tax dollars go and to what effect. It’s not just the amount of money spent that matters, it’s why that money is spent the way it is.

Through this web tool, we aim to fill that knowledge gap. The tool allows users to get under the hood of their government and understand not only how much a state spends but also what drives that spending.

To do this, we apply a basic framework to all major areas of government spending. The framework says that state spending per capita is both a function of how many people receive a service and how much that service costs the state for each recipient. ….

…In this tool, you’ll see the spending per capita breakdown for all states and the District of Columbia across all major functional categories. It allows you to see how each state ranks, and you can sort by any factor you choose. (One frequent outlier is DC; though included in the rankings, it often functions more like a city than a state) We’ve included some annotations to guide you along the way. By exploring the tool, you’ll gain a sense of how much each state spends on any given area and why states spend what they do. ….

5 Calls debuts what may be the easiest way to call your reps yet

Source: Sarah Perez, TechCrunch, January 25, 2017

A growing number of political activist websites have popped up in recent days to help those opposed to the Trump administration’s policies and agenda to take action. But a new one, 5 Calls, has just launched its simple online tool that makes the more cumbersome process of getting in touch with your representatives a lot easier than before.

The site, created by a team of volunteers, isn’t very fancy, but it’s certainly efficient.
The idea is that if you have 5 minutes to spare, you can place 5 calls – something that’s far more effective in terms of influencing your representatives and getting your voice heard than emailing is said to be.

And, yes, this site has an anti-Trump, left-leaning agenda, but it’s worth noting its creators have open sourced the code. While this was done largely because of the way the team operated – during their free time, from different locations – it places the code in the public domain. And that means others – including those on the opposing side of the political spectrum – could build their own version of 5 Calls, if they were motivated to keep such a site updated. ….

Resistance Manual

Source: Stay Woke, 2017

This Wiki is a collective resource, a hub of knowledge and resources to help you resist Trump’s agenda. Add new issues or make additions to any page on this site. Quality submissions will be reviewed and published here.

Topics include:
Trump / GOP Policy Agenda
Obamacare / ACA
Policing
Immigration
Voting Rights
Mass Incarceration
Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
Housing and Infrastructure
Women’s Rights / Reproductive Justice
LGBTQ Equality
Educational Justice
Muslim Ban / Registry
Consumer / Financial Protections
Climate / Environment

Essential Readings
find articles, curricula, and other readings in resistance

State and Local Pages
find info on issues, elections, and resources in your state and city

Political Issues
Political Appointments
Executive Actions
Elections
Trump Endorsers and Influencers
Corruption
Russia/Hacking
Mass Surveillance
Media Normalization
Societal Consequences of Trumpism
Institutional Racism

Resources
Crisis Resources
Tools of Resistance
People and Organizations
Upcoming Events/Opportunities

Police Body-Worn Camera Legislation Tracker

Source: Urban Institute, 2017

Laws governing how and when police body-worn cameras can be used and whether the footage is released vary considerably across the country. Use our legislation tracker, which we will update periodically, to find out more about passed and pending legislation in your state. ….
Related:
Police body camera policies: What’s in and what’s out
Source: Nancy G. La Vigne, Margaret Ulle, Urban Institute, January 12, 2017

State policies governing police body camera use are changing as rapidly as cameras are being deployed. About a year ago, we launched an interactive feature that tracks relevant body camera legislation. Since then, legislatures in 18 states passed new body camera laws. ….