The Problems with Property Tax Revenue Caps

Source: Karen Lyons and Iris J. Lav, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 21, 2007

Several states (Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Texas) have recently considered imposing severe caps on property tax revenue. These caps restrict the amount that property tax revenue can increase from year to year to a low fixed percentage, a formula based on the inflation rate, or some combination of the two.

While such caps may hold down property taxes, they are likely to impair local governments’ ability to provide education, public safety, and other services residents demand and need. They also are likely to make the local revenue system more regressive.

Property tax caps do nothing to change the main drivers behind higher property taxes. They cannot slow the increase in the cost of health care or fuel, for example, which reflects forces outside of the control of local officials. Nor do they change the demand for local public services, such as quality K-12 education, public safety, and good roads.

The Administration’s Dubious Claims about the Emerging Children’s Health Insurance Legislation: Myth and Reality

Source: Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 20, 2007

Congress is considering legislation to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a successful federal health program enjoying bipartisan support that, together with Medicaid, has reduced the proportion and the number of low-income children who are insured by about one third since 1997. On July 19, the Senate Finance Committee approved bipartisan legislation by a 17-4 vote, and two House committees are expected to act shortly thereafter.

The Bush Administration, however, is characterizing the children’s health insurance legislation being developed in Congress as a big-government approach that would pave the way for socialized medicine, do little for low-income children, and primarily shift people with good incomes from private health care coverage to government health insurance at taxpayers’ expense.

Are You Really Covered? Why 4 in 10 Americans Can’t Depend on Their Health Insurance

Source: Consumer Reports, Vol. 72 no. 9, September 2007

You might think you don’t have to worry about paying for medical care if you have health insurance. But you would be wrong. From escalating medical debt to postponed retirement, our exclusive national survey of working-age adults shows the depth of jitters even for those lucky enough to have insurance through their jobs or families.

This report, the first in a series, details how the situation has gotten worse over the past 15 years, since the country last engaged in a full-throated debate about health care. Our experts sifted through the complex issues and talked to people in our survey who said they would be willing to share their stories. Future installments will look at how the health-care system perpetuates unneeded treatments and medications, and will examine the trouble awaiting people who have to go out and find insurance on their own.

See Also:
+Rating the Health Plans: 37,000 Readers Pick the Best HMOs & PPOs
+Plan Cost and Coverage Worksheet

New Orleans Unions Plant Seeds for Growth with First Preapprentice Training Program

Source: Angelle Bergeron, Engineering News Record, Vol. 259, no. 4, July 30, 2007
(subscription required)

Hoping to boost its visibility in an open shop stronghold and bolster numbers and skill levels of a badly needed craft workforce, the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Dept. is bringing its message to the Hurricane Katrina recovery zone through a fast-track training and job placement center that will feed recruits to union apprentice programs for the first time.

EEOC Releases Guidance on “Caregiver” Discrimination

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Vol. 24, no. 15, July 19, 2007

New guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) means employers must be extra cautious when it comes to employees with care giving responsibilities. While no federal law specifically bans discrimination against caregivers, the EEOC says Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) extend protections to individuals caring for children, parents and others.

Separating Fact from Fiction about Workplace Violence

Source: John J. Matchulat, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 33, no. 2, Autumn 2007

Consultants, attorneys, and others have publicized some alarming information concerning the extent of violence in the nation’s workplaces. Yet, there is often a vast disparity in the statistics covering seemingly identical types of violence, depending on the author and his or her sources of data. Consequently, observations and conclusions as to the nature and extent of workplace violence vary significantly. Additionally, some generalized statements made about workplace violence, not based on statistical data, convey somewhat confusing and misleading conclusions. This article reconciles the varying statistical information as well as provides insight into whether some commonly-held views about workplace violence are fact, fiction, or possess elements of both.

U.S.: State Legislation: 50-State Legislative Tracking Web Resources

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, July 2007

At the request of NCSL’s Legislative Research Librarians (LRL) staff section, NCSL has developed this resource of 50-state compilations covering various issues that concern state legislators and legislative staff. Here you will find a topical, alphabetical listing of legislative and statutory databases, compilations and state charts/maps.

See also:
NCSL Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section
● Publications include:
Children and the Internet: Laws Relating to Filtering, Blocking and Usage Policies in Schools and Libraries
Legislative Research Librarians Newsline

Spending for Mental Health Care: A Larger Share Comes From Medicaid and Goes for Prescription Drugs

Source: Tami L. Mark, Katharine R. Levit, Jeffrey A. Buck, Rosanna M. Coffey, and Rita Vandivort-Warren, Psychiatric Services, Vol. 58 no. 8, August 2007
(subscription required)

From press release:
Over the past two decades, spending for mental health treatment shifted sharply from inpatient care to prescription medications, and Medicaid picked up a growing share of the cost, according to a study published today in Psychiatric Services.

The study, which analyzed healthcare costs from 1986 to 2003, was conducted by researchers from Thomson Healthcare and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

See Also: Abstract of Psychiatric Services Article: Mental Health Treatment Expenditure Trends, 1986–2003

More Americans Age 55 and Older Are Working Full Time

Source: Craig Copeland, Employee Benefit Research Institute, Vol. 28 no. 8, August 2007

From press release:

As an increasing percentage of older Americans are in the labor force, the trend toward more full-time, full-year work among older workers occurs across virtually every demographic group, according to an article published today by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

These trends mark a significant change in behavior for individuals age 55 and older, the article says, and are likely driven by their need to obtain affordable employment-based health insurance (as opposed to unaffordable or unavailable coverage in the individual market) and the need to continue to accumulate savings in employment-based defined contribution retirement plans.