It's no surprise that so-called "red states" are gaining in population. Even in blue states, the fastest growing pockets are suburbs that vote predominantly Republican. As Brookings Institution demographer Dr. William Frey puts it, "It's the New America. It's taking population and political clout from the highly urbanized Old America." Indeed, of the 10 fastest growing states (all in the West and South according to Census Bureau classifications), President Bush won nine in the last election.
New York Times columnist John Tierney gets to the heart of this trend, which one could sum up in the bastardized campaign slogan "It's the middle class, stupid!" Tierney says, "middle-class Americans don't simply cast ballots for Republicans. They also vote with their feet, which is why blue states and old Democratic cities are losing population to red states and Republican exurbs. People are moving there precisely because of economic reasons - more jobs, affordable houses and the lower taxes."
In this way, Phoenix is emblematic, providing a refuge for high-taxed, regulation-laden exiles from neighboring California as well as the Midwest and Northeast. This is the finding of national urban expert Joel Kotkin in the recent study Phoenix Rising: A City of Aspiration, also summarized in part in this Arizona Republic column. As a result of this massive in-migration, Phoenix has managed to reluctantly maintain many of the characteristics that initially draw people here. But, Kotkin notes, Phoenix risks marring its attractiveness by engaging in the kind of "creative class" pandering manifest in the current downtown development obsession.
Today is National Teacher Day. What better way to show appreciation for a job well done than a salary increase?
California Governor Schwarzenegger wants to pay teachers based on job performance. As Cato Institute education policy analyst Marie Gryphon articulates in this article for the Orange County Register, merit pay merits attention. To succeed, merit pay must be coupled with school choice. "School choice and merit pay are the twin beacons of market-based reform . . . Merit pay will prod teachers toward excellence, and parents, through their choices, will show school administrators what merit should mean," Gryphon explains. For more on merit pay, see http://www.cato.org/dailys/05-22-01.html.
Today, more than 5 million American workers have opted out of the Social Security system, participating instead in plans administered by local and municipal governments.
President Bush visited Galveston recently to highlight the success of these plans. San Diego's Supplemental Pension Savings Plan, established in 1981, is among the best of these plans, allowing employees to contribute between three and six percent of their salaries to their retirement accounts. The City of San Diego matches employee contributions, and permits employees to choose among a range of investments with different levels of risk.
By 2000, the average worker in San Diego's SPSP program would have been eligible for three times the benefits of a worker who had remained in the traditional Social Security system.
Unfortunately in 1983, Congress eliminated the provision allowing localities and municipalities to opt out of Social Security. But San Diego's example helps demonstrate the power of individual accounts to make people better off.
Illinois has given us just one more example of how allowing government to reward large contracts to private companies opens the door to corruption and abuse. This week, the state's auditor general issued a report finding that the agency responsible for cutting government waste instead spent lavishly and awarded multimillion-dollar contracts to consultants who might have had an inside track.
In spite of the evidence that government and business make poor bedfellows, groups such as the Arizona Technology Council continue to push for government ownership of private companies and targeted tax incentives.
If this is such a good idea, why does the Arizona Constitution prohibit such involvement? Because, as the Illinois case underscores, government needs a check on its enduring inclination to enter into sweetheart deals with private companies. Not only does permitting such involvement open the door to corruption, but it creates an unfair market advantage for those companies that win contracts. Given these arguments and the abundance of substantiating evidence, it's safe to say that any requisite changes to Article 9, section 7 of the Arizona Constitution will end up being a bad deal for taxpayers.
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Fifteen Bureaucrats Are Better Than One
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have announced that they will not recommend candidates to serve on the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the federal health care law’s panel of 15 bureaucrats tasked with reducing Medicare costs. In a letter to the president explaining their decision, Boehner and McConnell said they “believe Congress should repeal IPAB” and “hope establishing this board never becomes a reality.”Read More >>
Policymakers Need to be Adults when it Comes to Corporate Handouts
Economic development consultants act like children when they talk about attracting new businesses. Maybe a “deal closing” fund can help the state attract high-profile corporate relocations, they argue. Or maybe a special job training grant. Just do it this one time and it will make our state an economic powerhouse. Pretty please!Read More >>
Charter Schools Should have Better Access to Empty Public School Buildings
The wave of school building closures comes at a time when charter schools are disproportionally represented in the list of the top performing schools in the state. As TUSD shutters schools, shouldn’t the district find a way for successful charter schools to move in and give families better options?Read More >>