Congratulations to all recently victorious elected officials, and thank you for serving your communities! Too often, public servants are not recognized for their thankless and difficult jobs, even though holding elected office is one of the highest forms of community service one can perform.
On November 6, elections were held in 87 of the nation’s 99 state legislative chambers. Before the election, two-thirds (67) of all state chambers were held by Republicans. On Election Day, seven governorships and six legislative chambers flipped from Republican to Democrat. Heading into the 2019 legislative session, 26 governors and 62 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers will be held by Republicans. Minnesota is the only state with a divided legislature, which has not been the case for more than century.
As the 2019 legislative session draws near, The Heartland Institute looks forward to working with all elected officials at the local, state, and national levels. Since 1984, The Heartland Institute has helped legislators understand complex policy issues through a free-market perspective.
Each month, we produce several Research and Commentaries, Policy Studies, and newspapers on health care, budget and taxes, energy and environment, and education. Check out our Ten State Solutions to Emerging Issues for a glimpse at the valuable public policy work we produce.
Unlike most of the “ordinary think tanks” centered in the DC Swamp and only concerned with national issues, Heartland is located in so-called flyover country and provides state lawmakers across the nation with valuable insights on upcoming policy matters. We strongly believe that states should be “laboratories of democracy.” As such, Heartland is dedicated to providing state policymakers with reliable and timely analysis of public policy issues that most impact their constituents.
If you believe in Heartland’s mission to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to economic and social problems, please join our Legislative Forum, an exclusive program designed for legislators. Heartland’s Legislative Forum includes more than 275 state lawmakers who share our commitment to sound free-market policy solutions.
Membership is just $99 for two years or $179 for a lifetime membership. When you join the forum, our exceptional government relations team will assist you with all of your policy questions and needs. Even better, all members are eligible for travel scholarships for Heartland events, including the upcoming Emerging Issues Forum. In short, joining the Legislative Forum gives you instant access to your very own free-market think tank that will be able to provide you with in-depth policy analysis, research materials, expert testimony, and much more!
Lastly, we hope to see all newly-elected and veteran lawmakers at our 2018 Emerging Issues Forum on December 14 in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. Registration is free for lawmakers and their staff. Complimentary hotel accommodations and travel scholarships are available for Legislative Forum members. Details on how to register for the event and Heartland’s Legislative Forum can be found here. Email Government Relations Coordinator Arianna Wilkerson at [email protected] for more information.
What We’re Working On
Budget & Tax
Washington State Should Reject Illegal Capital Gains Tax Proposal
Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal proposed a new capital gains tax to be included in his 2019–20 education budget. The tax would impose an 8 percent levy on long-term capital gains. Under the new tax law, single-filers earning more than $25,000 from capital gains annually and couples who earn more than $50,000 would pay state taxes on those gains. Instead of implementing more and more taxes to “fix” the education problem in Washington, Reykdal and all education bureaucrats should embrace educational choice. In fact, Education Spending Accounts (ESA), which are private accounts managed by parents that are used on educational expenses for their child, are a proven method to increase student performance.
Improving Medicaid Eligibility Through Automation
Massachusetts has dramatically improved the long-term outlook of its Medicaid budget through reforms in its eligibility standards and procedures. According to a Pioneer Institute study, the Bay State is saving money and reducing staff time through enhanced eligibility verification and automation of MassHealth, the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program. Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans wrote, “So far, MassHealth’s eligibility reforms and improved procedures have proven extremely effective. These measures have improved eligibility accuracy and streamlined many outdated processes. As a result, Bay State taxpayers have been spared more than $1.2 billion in wasted Medicaid funds.”
Energy & Environment
Debunking Four Persistent Myths about Fracking
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson and Communications Intern Linnea Lueken summarize their new Heartland Policy Brief that outlines the basic elements of the hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” process and then refutes the four most widespread fracking myths. As the two authors note, the myths that fracking is polluting groundwater, polluting the air, causing earthquakes, and causing and increasing health problems such as asthma, birth defects, and cancer are unfounded.
Fiscal Analysis Shows Indiana Should Embrace Universal School Vouchers
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson writes about an EdChoice fiscal analysis showing the Indiana Choice Scholarships Program, which currently serves more than 35,000 students, has generated cumulative net savings to state and local budgets of $691 million over the life of the program. This equates to $1,100 saved per voucher student. Benson notes Indiana policymakers have displayed great leadership on the private school choice issue, as demonstrated by the sheer size and success of the Choice Scholarships Program. Unfortunately, only half of Indiana students qualify for the program and Benson says the program deserves universal expansion.
From Our Free Market Friends
Medicaid Eating State Budget, Feeding National Debt
Kaitlyn Finley, policy research fellow at Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, analyzes the Sooner State’s Medicaid spending over the past two decades. In 2017, more than $2 billion was appropriated to Medicaid, or 12 percent of total state spending. That stands in sharp contrast to the $536 million, or just 4 percent of total state spending, appropriated to Medicaid in 1997. Rising Medicaid costs in Oklahoma and other states has attributed to the colossal national debt. From 1997 to 2017, the federal government has increased its annual share of Medicaid costs from $151 billion to almost $389 billion.
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