Priya M. Abraham, a senior fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation, recently published a new study titled Transforming Labor: A Comprehensive, Nationwide Comparison and Grading of Public Sector Labor Laws. The study evaluates 11 key measures that directly affect taxpayers and public employees. The key measures in the study are legality of collective bargaining, cope of collective bargaining, union release time, legality of worker strikes, binding arbitration, union contract negotiation transparency, union certification, opt-out windows, exclusive representation, paycheck protection, and right-to-work legislation.
Twenty-two states failed to obtain a passing grade in Abraham’s report, earning either a “D” or “F” grade. For many of these states, the most important factor was the negative impact public sector labor laws are having on taxpayers and government workers.
Only seven states were given a rank of A+: Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Elizabeth Stelle, director of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation, argued in a recent American Spectator article public sector labor issues extend far beyond a state’s right-to-work status, stating, “Even highly graded states will see areas for improvement, including transparency in contract negotiations, legality of worker strikes, workers’ rights in leaving a union, and paycheck protection laws. These are reform areas that can guarantee greater protections of government workers’ freedom of association.”
In a recent Research & Commentary, Heartland Senior Policy Analyst Matthews Glans discusses right-to-work laws, how they create new jobs and foster economic and population growth, and the new right-to-work proposals now being considered in multiple states. “Over the same period, seven of the top 10 job-producing states had right-to-work laws in place, according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor,” Glans wrote.
Right-to-work laws create new jobs and foster economic and population growth. State lawmakers should consider implementing right-to-work legislation in those states that currently don’t have this important reform, a decision that is sure to reap significant economic benefits.
What We’re Working On
Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: Arkansas Income Tax Reform
A new proposal that would lower Arkansas’ personal income tax rate was recently unveiled by Arkansas state Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs). In a press statement, Hester argues the state can and should cut taxes by as much as $105 million per year during the 2017 legislative session. Hester’s plan would provide income tax relief for approximately 600,000 Arkansans. In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans discusses this new tax cut proposal now being considered in Arkansas. “Maintaining a complex income tax code imposes high administrative costs on the government and high compliance costs on businesses and individuals,” wrote Glans. “They also discourage capital from flowing into a state and hinder the creation of new jobs. Cutting the income tax would improve Arkansas’ economic competitiveness by leaving more money in the pockets of the state’s citizens and businesses to spend, save, and invest,” wrote Glans. Read more
Research & Commentary: Tax Credit Scholarships Save Taxpayers, School Districts Money
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson discusses an audit by EdChoice, formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, of the 10 largest (of the country’s 21) tax credit scholarship programs. EdChoice says the top 10 programs have saved between $1.7 billion and $3.4 billion through 2014, or about $1,750 to $3,000 saved per student. Read more
Energy & Environment
Research & Commentary: Fracking Ban Would Devastate the Colorado Economy
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson discusses a study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy that claims a ban on hydraulic fracturing in Colorado would cost the state 215,000 jobs, $22 billion in gross domestic product, and reduce household incomes by $14 billion by 2022. Because of its position as a leader in energy production, Benson argues, Colorado has seen a large amount of anti-fracking activity, culminating in two failed constitutional ballot initiatives that sought to limit and curb access to areas where hydraulic fracturing could occur. “There is no scientific justification for banning hydraulic fracturing or over-regulating it out of existence,” Benson wrote. “Regulation should only be based on the best available scientific literature, not on wild, unfounded claims based on misinformation, fear, and superstition.” Read more
Research & Commentary: Drug Price Controls and Price Transparency
While drug companies have argued for many years their prices are competitive and determined by the cost of development, critics say new laws are needed that would set the price of prescription drugs at “fair” rates. These critics say this form of market manipulation is necessary to guarantee access to pharmaceutical drugs for all people. There are two approaches state legislatures have taken to address the price of medications: transparency requirements and price controls. In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines drug price controls and price transparency. “Price caps are vague, obtrusive, and give far too much control over the pharmaceutical market to government regulators. Price gouging can be a problem, but price controls are not the answer. Instead of killing the free market and innovation in the pharmaceutical industry, state lawmakers should promote transparency and let the market and legal system monitor drug prices,” wrote Glans. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
Hugh Hewitt Named as Keynote Speaker for the Yankee Institute’s Annual Gala
Yankee Institute for Public Policy recently announced its keynote speaker for their annual Gala, which will take place at the Palace Theater in Stamford, Connecticut on December 1, 2016. Hugh Hewitt, renowned talk show host and syndicated columnist, will be the event’s keynote speaker. Also speaking at the event will be Rebecca Friedrichs, lead plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. Read more