State Handbook of Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Indicators 2008

Source: David Baer, AARP Public Policy Institute, Research Report, Pub ID: D19014, April 2008

From the summary:
As state and local economic conditions and demographic patterns change, policymakers may consider adjusting their policies on taxes and spending programs. These adjustments become more difficult when economic and demographic changes depart from historical trends.

Policymakers, public officials, policy analysts and others concerned about such issues will find useful state-level data on population, poverty rates, per capita state personal income, state and local revenues, expenditures, tax rates, and property tax relief programs in this seventh edition of the AARP Public Policy Institute’s biennial databook by David Baer. Since 1993, the reference book has been contributing to more informed public policy decisions by providing economic, demographic, and fiscal information.

The handbook facilitates state-by-state and state-national comparisons, featuring economic, demographic, and fiscal summaries of the entire United States, each state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Gender and age comparisons are provided for some of the data. Tables and maps of selected data are included.

School Enrollment in the United States: 2006

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division,
Education & Social Stratification Branch, May 08, 2008

From the press release:
A national-level update of characteristics of the nation’s more than 75 million students. Eight tables include number of students by attributes such as age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, family income, type of college and vocational course enrollment. This Internet-only release comes from data collected each October as part of the Current Population Survey. The full report with analysis of the details is expected later this summer.

Capital Budgeting

Source: Jeffrey Holland and David Torregrosa, Congressional Budget Office, May 2008

This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) paper, prepared at the request of the Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget, analyzes the advantages and disadvantages of adopting a capital budget at the federal level. It also examines implementation issues, including options for defining capital spending.

Employer Health Costs In a Global Economy

Source: Len Nichols, Sarah Axeen, New America Foundation, May 2008

Although most Americans get health insurance through their employers, business leaders are increasingly united in their belief that rising health care costs threaten America’s competitiveness in the global economy. Business support for comprehensive health reform has been growing as a result.

However, economists generally believe that it is workers — rather than employers — who pay for health care through lower wages. Although this proposition may hold true in the long run, employers face a variety of constraints that may make it difficult for them to fully shift health costs in the short run.

Health care costs would not burden firms if they could be shifted to consumers through higher prices. But with globalization and increased competition in international markets, this is not feasible. If employers cannot fully shift health costs onto workers or into prices, then how much they pay matters.

As a percentage of payroll, the employer cost of health benefits has exploded over the past few decades. In addition, employer health costs for manufacturing firms in the United States, $2.38 per worker per hour, were much higher than the foreign trade-weighted average of $0.96 per worker per hour in 2005. Employer health costs make the United States less competitive than it could otherwise be.
See also:
Policy Paper: Employer Health Costs in a Global Economy
Issue Brief: Employer Health Care Burden

Capital Gains and Dividends Tax Cuts Offer Almost No Benefit to Middle-Income Americans and Add to the Nation’s Fiscal Problems

Source: Robert S. McIntyre, Citizens for Tax Justice, May 13, 2008

Presidential candidates, reporters and pundits have lately perpetuated two myths about tax cuts for capital gains and dividends. The first myth is that the middle class benefits from these tax cuts for investment income. The second myth is that these tax cuts, particularly the tax cut for capital gains, have caused federal revenue to actually increase.
See also:
State-by-State Fact Sheets

The Union Wage Advantage for Low-Wage Workers

Source: John Schmitt, Center for Economic and Policy Research, May 2008

From the summary:
A new report from CEPR shows that union membership increases the wages of all workers, with low-wage workers seeing the largest gains.

This report uses national data from 2003 to 2007 to show that unionization raises the wages of the typical low-wage worker (one in the 10th percentile) by 20.6 percent compared to 13.7 percent for the typical medium wage worker (one in the 50th percentile), 6.1 percent for the typical high-wage worker (one in the 90th percentile). The paper also produces results for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Throughout the states, a similar pattern holds, with unionization raising the wages of the lowest-wage workers the most.

See also:
Press release

New Online Toolkit, WWW.ACLU.ORG/GETEQUAL, Makes It Easy To Make Change

Source: American Civil Liberties Union, Press Release, May 13, 2008

The American Civil Liberties Union launched a new version of its Get Busy, Get Equal online activist toolkit. Get Busy, Get Equal now incorporates new technology to make it easier for LGBT people to work for change in their communities. The website offers tools for ending gay and transgender discrimination, making schools safe, and winning recognition for LGBT relationships.

Universal Mandatory Health Insurance in The Netherlands: A Model for the United States?

Source: Wynand P.M.M. van de Ven, and Frederik Schut, Health Affairs, May/June 2008 Vol. 27 no. 3
(subscription required)

From Commonwealth Fund summary:
In 2006, the Netherlands launched a sweeping national health care initiative to provide universal health care coverage for its population. According to the authors of “Universal Mandatory Health Insurance in the Netherlands: A Model for the United States?” (Health Affairs, May/June 2008), it is a model that may be of particular interest to policymakers in the United States. Not a single-payer system–a policy approach often considered a nonstarter in U.S. policy circles–the Dutch approach combines mandatory universal health insurance with competition among private health insurers.

Identifying And Evaluating Equity Provisions In State Health Care Reform

Source: Brian Smedley and Beatrice Alvarez -The Opportunity Agenda, Rea Pañares, Cheryl Fish-Parcham, and Sara Adland – Families USA, Commonwealth Fund, April 2008

Millions of people in the United States–principally racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, and those who lack proficiency in English–face barriers to high-quality health care. Such problems are largely due to high numbers of uninsured individuals among these groups, though it persists even when they are insured. By expanding health insurance coverage and addressing issues of access to care, quality of care, patient empowerment, infrastructural reforms, and social and community-level determinants of health, states have the potential to achieve equity. This report seeks to identify state policies that promote equitable health care access and quality and to evaluate existing laws, regulations, or reform proposals in five states–Massachusetts, Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California. These states’ initiatives, all of which move toward universal health insurance coverage, also address other innovative strategies such as improving health care provider diversity, distribution, and cultural competence.