August 15, 2012


As Social Security Turns 77, the Most Successful Program in American History.  House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has been a proponent of privatizing the retirement program by putting seniors’ savings into risky Wall Street investments. Huffington Post

Privatization and voucher systems: Why they are dangerous. Voucher systems are the calling card for the Republican Party, and by romanticizing it with words like “choice” they can lure some into believing they are being empowered; in fact, the believers willingly become the pawns of stock market investors together with the shared risk and no safety net. Insurance companies operate on a “for profit” basis and do not have any stake in securing the health of the nation or cutting costs in a way that does not compromise the health of individuals. They decide who lives and dies based on a business plan.

WA: Liquor Sales Drop In First Month of Privatization. Washington liquor sales dropped slightly in June compared with the same month the previous year, after state businesses and consumers stocked up on spirits in advance of price increases with liquor privatization.  Washington will need at least three more months to identify long-term trends resulting from Initiative 1183, the Washington state Department of Revenue said Monday. Voters approved the measure last fall, allowing retail stores to sell liquor and kicking the state out of a business it has tightly controlled since the end of Prohibition. Consumers could begin buying directly from retailers on June 1.  CBS

ME: Lawmakers say more data analysis needed from MDOT for commuter van. Lawmakers want another look at financial data the Department of Transportation… At issue is whether the state should move from a publicly subsidized commuter van service to a private one….Advocates say the program has a $233,000 surplus from fares paid by riders, who pay $120 a month for the service… The service has been heavily used by state workers, but about 150 current riders are from the private sector.  Advocates for the program argue that while 250 riders may not seem like a lot, the program has a waiting list and is poised to grow. Turcotte said a private service will be too costly for most riders. As the LePage administration seeks to privatize some state services and programs, the probe of the transportation department’s figures may do little to change what is ultimately a policy decision by the administration.   Morning Sentinel

ME:  Gov LePage slows down east-west highway study. Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday that he will slow down plans to conduct a publicly funded study of a proposed east-west highway across Maine. His decision came one day after state Sen. Douglas Thomas, R-Ripley, said he was seeking to suspend the feasibility study because he underestimated the fear and opposition among residents who live in the potential path of the highway.  Kennebec Journal

VA: Virginia Gov: If you don’t want to pay a toll, don’t use 95.  A proposal for a toll road on Interstate 95, just north of Emporia, could raise up to $40 million dollars a year for transportation costs in Virginia.  However, many local leaders, including those in Hanover, Dinwiddie and Sussex County, plan to speak out against the plan at a Wednesday meeting in Petersburg. Several leaders argue that the burden to generate funds for transportation should not fall on the shoulders of local jurisdictions. “That’s not their responsibility,” argued Joseph Vinsh with the Tri-Cities Metropolitan Planning Organization. “That responsibility rests with the legislature.”  WTVR