This weekly round-up shares the latest news about what the network is doing to promote state-based solutions that will improve the lives of families, workers, and local communities. If you are an SPN state think tank and have an update you’d like us to include in next week’s round-up, please email us at updates@spn.org (all submissions are subject to SPN approval).

Announcements

Education: Expanding options for families

  • Arkansas Policy Foundation: The Foundation reports $47.2 million spent on public school employees in failing school districts.
  • Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty: The Institute released its latest research, Money for Nothing, on the relationship between additional school funding and student performance last week. WILL’s Dr. Flanders examined the relationship between test scores and the number of non-teachers in a school district, per pupil spending in a district, and teacher pay. His conclusion? None of these factors seem to be linked to higher student test scores.

Healthcare: Improving access to and affordability of care

Jobs & Occupational Licensing Reform: Increasing jobs and opportunity

Worker Freedom: Giving workers a voice and a choice

Energy: Protecting consumers and the environment

Taxes & Budgets: Encouraging fiscal responsibility and sustainability

  • John Locke Foundation: A recent article by the Foundation advocates for reforms to address North Carolina’s $50 billion in unfunded liabilities related to employee retirement and healthcare, noting that one major reform would be for the state to convert to a fixed contribution retirement model.
  • Goldwater Institute: The Institute won a major victory for Arizona taxpayers when the state tax court struck down Pinal County’s unfair and illegal tax. The tax court agreed with the Institute, holding that the county violated the law when it told voters that it would impose the tax only on retail businesses—which state law doesn’t allow—and then changed its mind and told state tax officials to collect the tax on all businesses in the county, which voters didn’t approve.
  • Independence Institute: The Institute argues that the ballot initiative to increase taxes by $1.5 billion annually will hurt the economy and taxpayers who already are paying increased taxes.
  • Montana Policy Institute: The Institute and the Mackinac Center partnered on an op-ed to discuss the consequences of a tobacco tax increase in Montana.
  • Pelican Institute: Following the passage of a sales tax increase, the Center is focused on presenting a “new path” to prosperity. They will be releasing a series of recommendations for fundamental reforms over the coming months that lays out this vision to bring jobs and opportunity back to Louisiana.

Pelican Center cartoon

Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform: Protecting individual property rights

  • Rio Grande Foundation: The Foundation helped pass a bill in 2015 that abolished civil asset forfeiture in New Mexico, but some police departments claimed the law did not apply to their DWI vehicle seizure program. A federal judge just ruled that Albuquerque’s vehicle seizure program is unconstitutional, setting an important precedent within the state and nationwide.

Pension Reform: Achieving retirement security

  • Bluegrass Institute: The Institute raises questions about the degree of animosity in the public-education sector towards reforming Kentucky’s imperiled public pension systems.

Criminal Justice Reform: Rehabilitating and restoring offenders’ lives

  • Commonwealth Foundation: Pennsylvania made history earlier this summer with the passage of a landmark criminal justice reform known as “clean slate” legislation. The new law, House Bill 1419, authorizes three major changes that will help Pennsylvanians escape the unfair stigma attached to criminal records, allowing them to move on from past mistakes and look to their future.