teachers

FL Pension Changes Rooted in ALEC Model Legislation

FL Pension Changes Rooted in ALEC Model Legislation

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford

Overhauling the state pension system is a priority for Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-ALEC. (Photo courtesy of the Florida Legislature.)
A new plan that would overhaul the state’s pension system can be traced back to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, The Palm Beach Post reported this week.

State lawmakers are changing the current state pension plan by eliminating it for any new hires. Instead, new state employees would choose from private plans, which are already offered to state workers.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers, police officers and firefighters currently use the state retirement program. However, plans to change the system have been made a top priority by legislative leaders including Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-ALEC (Wesley Chapel). The plan has moved through the GOP-led state House quickly, but members still need to broker a deal to get the more politically moderate Florida Senate on board.

The Post reported this week that the plans also come from an interesting place.

According to the Post:

Critics trace the campaign back two years — to New Orleans, where dozens of Florida lawmakers gathered for a conference hosted by a controversial advocacy group that helps corporations and conservative interest groups write bills for legislatures across the country.

Jonathan Williams, a policy director for the American Legislative Exchange Council, told The Palm Beach Post that the organization’s three days of meetings in August 2011 helped affirm the need among many legislators to take a hard look at public employee benefits.

“The momentum for pension reform is stronger today because many governments are still seeing the effects of the recession on investment returns,” Williams said. “It’s going to be a long time before things improve. Florida legislators are aware of this.”

Following contentious debate, pitting union-allied Democrats against ruling Republicans, the House last week approved legislation (CS/HB 7011) that would close the Florida Retirement System’s traditional pension to new employees.

Workers hired after Jan. 1 could join only 401(k)-styled investment plans, which opponents say would leave the retirement funds of lower-income public workers subject to wild swings of the stock market.

ALEC is a mostly corporate?funded group that pushes corporate-friendly laws. ALEC has been behind a slew of anti-worker, anti-environmental and anti-regulation bills in the past few years. The group was also behind many of the more restrictive voting laws that caused problem in several states in the last election.

According to a 2012 report by Progress Florida, about a dozen bills have been introduced in the Florida Legislature that have based on ALEC’s model legislation. Some, such as Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, are on the books right now. Most Republicans in the state legislature are also dues-paying ALEC members.

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This article is written by Ashley Lopez and is published at http://fcir.org/2013/03/27/florida-pension-changes-rooted-in-alec-model-legislation/

Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

 

There is no such a thing as a stupid question?

no such thing as a stupid question

I’ve always said there is no such thing as a stupid question.  There are only stupid people who have a question and don’t ask.

I stand disturbingly corrected.  Apparently if you get enough information from such as the Heartland Institute and other climate change deniers like members of Congress and their state legislatures, and do not get any information at all from sources not pushing an agenda–like scientists worldwide–you will ask stupid questions.  I am left to wonder what Bill Nye, “the science guy replied”.
Just think for a minute about those who are taught such nonsense in schools–what will happen to them when they get out in the real world of people who read and have had certified science teachers?  They will be shunned as idiots by co-workers, and retreat deeper into the cocoon of misinformation that they have been sold.

Kind of reminds me of the Darwin Award nomination I recommended for the NC General Assembly at http://www.vltp.net/legislation-worthy-of-a-darwin-award/

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This Non Sequitur comic was seen today at http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2013/03/05

 

Privatizing Government Services in the Era of ALEC and the Great Recession – Part IV – Unions and Collective Bargaining

IV.   UNIONS AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Many ALEC bills target teachers and collective bargaining, and laws that
are similar to those bills have been enacted in the aftermath of the Republican victories in 2010.  For example, in Indiana, where Republicans had a 60-40 House majority and a 37-13 Senate super-majority, the Senate labor committee chair coupled limits on teacher collective bargaining with teacher merit pay and state-funded vouchers for students to attend private schools. 121  In addition, teacher collective bargaining was limited to salaries, benefits, and total number of work days. 122

A. Public Employee Freedom Act

ALEC Summary:  “Excluded from National Labor Relations Act (NLRA),
public employees are subject to state and local laws governing collective
bargaining.  Many of these laws are ‘monopoly bargaining laws,’ which More →

Privatizing Government Services in the Era of ALEC and The Great Recession – Section 1, Introduction

PRIVATIZING GOVERNMENT SERVICES IN THE ERA OF ALEC AND THE GREAT RECESSION

by Ellen Dannin 1

I. INTRODUCTION

In Max Barry’s 2003 novel, Jennifer Government,2 there is no public sector:  The world is run by American corporations; there are no taxes; employees take the last names of the companies they work for; the Police and the NRA are publicly traded security firms; the government can only investigate crimes it can bill for.

Hack Nike is a Merchandising Officer who discovers an all-new way to sell sneakers. Buy Mitsui is a stockbroker with a death-wish. Billy NRA is finding out that life in a private army isn’t all snappy uniforms and code names. And Jennifer Government, a legendary agent with a barcode tattoo, is a consumer watchdog with a gun.3

Events in 2010 through 2012 suggest that Jennifer Government might accurately predict our national trajectory. During that period, a number of states, including states with a long history of public-sector collective bargaining—Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin—limited or proposed eliminating or limiting public-sector collective bargaining rights.4 A 2010 “Quinnipiac University poll found that three-fourths of [Connecticut] state voters supported a wage freeze for state workers, and 61% favored layoffs.”5 Public anger also developed in New Jersey as a result of the state’s failure to properly
fund public employee pension benefits by $53.9 billion. Ironically, that anger led to demands that More →

Ohio Bleeding

Paula Garfield is a 30-year veteran teacher of special education for Columbus city schools.  She was recently elected as an Ohio Education Association Delegate, and received the Columbus Education Association’s Outstanding Member of the Year award.  She was highly involved with We Are Ohio, and is a guest speaker for Ohio Women’s Democratic Caucus, War on Women, and others.  This is Paula’s blog, and it is a beautifully eloquent posting.  Paula is a member of our Facebook group–Resist The Privatization of America, where she posted this article. 

Thank you Paula.

With 24 days until the Presidential election, I spent a total of 26 hours of my weekend travelling across the State in Ohio, speaking at 3 events regarding Educators for President Obama: Women, laborers, middle class, elderly, minorities, college students,  teachers, firefighters, police, unions, pensions, postal service: we all have the same attackers. Their tactics consist of the war on women, replacing public schools with private for profit schools,replacing free public schools with the Kasich (K-suck) voucher system  attacking and dismantling of free public appropriate education, destroying planned parenthood, holding jobs for ransom.

The same Republicans try to make sure that measures don’t get by the House of Representatives and thus cannot get to the Senate .Since the Republican Party controls the House, it serves the Corporations  and not “We the People,” who elected them to represent us.

I talked about Right to Work -for less-, Voter ID Laws and other means of voter suppression across the USA in Republican governed states as I canvassed on Sunday. I knocked on doors for all Congress Reps in my voting area, delivered signs, got the appropriate forms to those  who have relocated to Columbus, Ohio.  I answered questions from a Canadian, who works here in the area, who was in disbelief about what is happening to America in comparison to Canada’s rights, freedoms.

I am just now sitting down, after finding all my lawn signs for my makeshift Democratic ballot, destroyed…some burned, some shredded.I am cleaning up what the wind scattered across my complex. I am just off the phone trying to hook up voters with signs in the district/area with field leader contacts across the state, and staring at 122 emails, all of which I must answer from people wanting to know what they can do to help because some have awakened, and have realized the impact on them, their children, their futures, their homes, their lives.

There is a great deal more covered in Paula’s article, Ohio Bleeding.  I highly recommend clicking here to read all of it.

Free Speech Is for Billionaires, Not School-Teachers

At an educational forum this week, Mitt Romney called for restricting teachers’ unions from participating in the political process.

What does a plutocracy look like? How about a leveraged buy-out artist who used his family connections – and gamed the tax code – to amass a $378 million fortune, and whose campaign is almost entirely financed by deep-pocketed conservative sugar-daddies, saying that while money equals Constitutionally protected free speech for his own donors, there should be limits on political spending by teachers making $75,000 per year.

That’s exactly what transpired on Tuesday at an education forum in New York. According to CBS, Romney said that “we simply can’t have” elected officials who may receive contributions from teachers’ unions negotiating with them. “I think it’s a mistake,” Romney said. “I think we have to get the money out of the teachers unions going into campaigns.” CBS adds: “He suggested that money should somehow be diverted or cut off,” but — as is typical with Romney — “he did not offer details.”

One would be hard-pressed to come up with a better example of rank hypocrisy. The conservative view – now broadly accepted in our courts – has long been that money equals speech, that individuals and organization have a Constitutional right to donate to the politicians of their choosing. That was the rationale behind Citizens United – and a series of related cases – which allowed Romney to dominate the early fundraising race on the backs of a very small number of extremely wealthy donors

There is much more to read in this article, so “you people”, please click here to see it.  It furthers the ALEC objective of breaking unions, particularly public sector unions.

BTW, the end of the article states:

As billionaire industrialist David Koch – who’s bankrolled any number of union-busting politicians – recently said of campaign donations, “People can invest what they want.” What’s clear is that – in the rarified world inhabited by the Koch brothers and the Romneys — that’s simply not the case for You People.

 

 

 

 

Take it from this business owner: Tax cuts for rich don’t help

If anyone tells you that ending the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent would hurt job creation, tell them to talk with me

In 1993, we lost much of our business as a result of the supposedly job-creating NAFTA trade agreement as large brands sought out the cheapest labor costs they could in Mexico.

We decided to stick it out and keep good jobs right here in North Carolina. We invested in new technologies that reduced our energy and waste costs. We found new markets for our t-shirts. (and they have been very successful with this approach).

You’d think the economic meltdown and large budget deficit would have shown that giving tax breaks for the best-off Americans makes them richer – it doesn’t pay for itself, it doesn’t trickle down and it doesn’t create jobs, at least not in America.

I know firsthand that investment is the key to keeping my business healthy. I know that the taxes I pay allow the government to reinvest in teachers, roads, clean water and other infrastructure and services that my business depends on to succeed.

As a small business owner, taking money from the budgets of families struggling to make ends meet and giving it to the most prosperous families won’t help my business or our economy. Instead it will continue us down the path of subsidizing the already well off instead of making the investments in our economy and our people that truly strengthen our nation and our homegrown jobs.

To read this entire article, written by a successful small businessman who recognizes the conservatives’ economic plan as a bunch of hooey, please click here.

The Main Street Movement – Struggle in the Heartland

Oklahoma public sector workers and activists speak out on the attacks on workers civil rights by corporations.

Please watch this great video on the VLTPVideoChannel by clicking here

National Resolution on High Stakes Testing

This resolution is modeled on the resolution passed by more than 360 Texas school boards as of April 23, 2012. It was written by Advancement Project; Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; FairTest; Forum for Education and Democracy; MecklenburgACTS; Deborah Meier; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; National Education Association; New York Performance Standards Consortium; Tracy Novick; Parents Across America; Parents United for Responsible Education – Chicago; Diane Ravitch; Race to Nowhere; Time Out From Testing; and United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.

[quality education is not achieved by teaching to the test]

Please read this Resolution which will help improve the education of our youth by clicking here.

THE GOALS OF VOUCHER SYSTEMS IS TO PUT PUBLIC EDUCATION INTO A DEATH SPIRAL

Written by VLTP’s OhioDem1   Here are two excerpts:

1.  “The goal of Voucher systems is to put public education on a death spiral, because each year it is intended to take marginal revenue from the public school systems…Each year the cycle is renewed, forcing the local school boards to seek greater local property tax support, which is defeated frequently, which causes more parents to remove their children from the public schools, which leads to more belt-tightening, lower numbers for students for extra curricular activities, special classes, and a further reduction of state aid per student, which accelerates the cycle.”

2.  “Couple the financial death spiral, with lowered standards or no standards for charter or other privatized educational models, and you have the stage set for a nation of young adults woefully unprepared for the jobs that the economy is generating now, except for the children of elites who are able to gain access to “the best schools and education”.  Non elites, not so much.”

To read OhioDem1’s complete post, please click here.