Participatory Budgeting: not just for regular budgets

The Participatory Budgeting Project has a guide for communities that want to participate in decisions about the use of funds from Tax Increment Financing districts. The governance structure associated with Tax Increment Financing varies by state (and not all states have TIF), but there are potentially significant amounts of funding at …

Why is recovery taking so long—and who’s to blame?

We are enduring one of the slowest economic recoveries in recent history, and the pace can be entirely explained by the fiscal austerity imposed by Republican members of Congress and also legislators and governors at the state level. EPI’s Josh Bivens examines the reasons beyond our slow economic recovery (one …

Teacher pay continues to fall relative to similar workers

A new report by Sylvia Allegretto at IRLE and Lawrence Mishell at EPI finds that in 2015, public school teachers’ weekly wages were 17% lower than those of comparable workers (a gap that has widened from 1.8% in 1994).

There are many reasons for the pay gap between public school teachers and similarly-educated workers, including the same gender pay gap that affects workers throughout the public and private sectors. But there’s no doubt that the widening gap between teachers and other college educated workers is a direct consequence of our rapid disinvestment in public services, which has hit school districts harder than any other segment of the public workforce. I’d be interested to see a similar study of other public workers and their similarly-situated private counterparts.

Source: The teacher pay gap is wider than ever: Teachers’ pay continues to fall further behind pay of comparable workers

From the annals of state austerity budgets…

To the Editor: Thank you for your editorial about Illinois and Kansas as examples of states where policy makers do more harm than good (“Sorry Tales From Two Statehouses,” April 25). Illinois’ record 10-month budget impasse is eroding much of its educational and social service systems. According to a poll …

Welfare and the politics of poverty

Great recap of the welfare reform travesty – in which Clinton admits that the poorest families in the U.S. are worse off after welfare reform. Also describes how state control, combined with fiscal downturns, pulled money away from the poor.

Defending public pensions

I’ve written a lot about how public pensions came to be blamed for the fiscal crisis looming (or already “crippling”) many cities and states. The National Public Pension Project has been working since 2007 to change the narrative about the value of public pension plans, and has an interesting website …

Crowdfunding for the Public Good Is Evil | WIRED

Important article about the slippery slope from an underpaid teacher crowdfunding for classroom supplies to a bankruptcy city crowdfunding to clean up its parks. Crowdfunding is great when it funds new products that aren’t getting supported by more conventional forms of investment: Public necessities, by contrast, are not awesome; they’re …

BART gets real

Infrastructure may not be sexy, but you tend to notice when it crumbles around you. BART has been having all kinds of problems lately, and its twitter account manager isn’t pulling any punches. @tquad64 Planners in 1996 had no way of predicting the tech boom – track redundancy, new tunnels …

States fighting the minimum wage

What rights to cities have to regulate the conditions under which their residents work? If some state legislatures had their way: none. With federal efforts to increase pay for the lowest earners stalled by Republican opposition, a slew of states, cities and towns across the country have hiked the local …