March 14, 2013


FL: Charter Hype and Spin from Florida DOE. The latest embarrassing public relations stunt from the state DOE is a “study” claiming that charter schools in Florida outperform public schools. This is intended to help the privatization movement–for-profit and nonprofit–get a bigger market share. The latest “study” was not conducted by independent reputable scholars but by the Department itself. That explains a lot. Consider that only four months earlier, an independent study concluded the opposite: that public schools perform the same or better than charter schools.  Diane Ravich’s Blog

UT: Rep. Noel Leads Charge Against Privatizing New Prison. A bill passed out of the House today to move forward with a new authority relocate the Draper prison and develop the land underneath it, but not before Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, amended the bill to prohibit the new prison being operated by a for-profit company, arguing inmates should be treated as human beings and not commodities. Salt Lake City Weekly

WA: Voter Initiative Kills New Toll Roads. Converting freeways into toll roads is one of the most popular types of project among transportation bureaucrats and certain politicians. When asked their opinion on the wisdom of tolling, voters have expressed a far different sentiment. In Washington state, for example, there is now no question that Initiative 1185, which took effect last December, will block a number of tolling projects that have been in the works. . . The initiative, which passed with the support of 64 percent of voters, does not directly ban tolls. Instead, it requires fee increases of any type (including tolls) to be approved in a bill duly passed by the legislature and signed into law. Some politicians have preferred tolling as a means of outsourcing unpopular increases to a third-party toll management company or, for publicly owned toll roads, to the state Transportation Commission, whose members are not accountable to the public.

MS: Bill to privatize collection of child support payment passes Mississippi Senate. Senators voted Wednesday to support House Bill 1009. It would allow the Mississippi Department of Human Services to contract with private vendors to collect unpaid child support, which lawmakers say totals more than $1 billion. State employees protested the bill March 5 at the Capitol, warning a previous privatization effort had failed. The Republic

KS: Kansas to privatize child support collections. Kansas officials are taking the first steps toward turning child support collections over to private contractors. The Kansas Department for Children and Families said Friday it has begun accepting proposals to privatize the system. The agency says contractors may bid to collect support payments in one, several or all of the state’s 31 judicial districts.

GA: With privatization, 800 MARTA jobs could be cut. General Manager Keith Parker . . . believes many of those people might transfer to whatever private company that will be performing the service. . . Union officials and other analysts, however, contend privatization usually mean forcing down wages and benefits and cutting jobs because private companies need to perform the same work at a lower cost while making a profit. “The evidence is the first way to reduce costs, is either less pay or less benefits and over time in many cases the private sector has said it can reduce jobs, the number of positions,” said Linda Cherrington, an analyst with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. “They may grandfather in existing employees in a comparable wage and benefit package but as new employees are hired in they are able to negotiate another (union) agreement.” Atlanta Journal Constitution           

When Public-Private Partnerships Are a Bad Idea. In Cincinnati, which faces a $35 million budget gap next year, controversy is currently raging over a proposal to contract out the management of the city’s parking meters and garages. . . Cincinnati would get a $92 million upfront payment and annual installments estimated at $3 million. Part of the upfront money would be used to address next year’s deficit, but most would go to develop a downtown high-rise, a bike trail and a new highway interchange. . . .Council member Laurie Quivlan asked the $64,000 question: How will Cincinnati deal with future budget deficits? The mayor said $25 million of the $92 million payment would be used to address next year’s deficit. But that would still leave a $10 million hole–and what about future years? . . . Cincinnati’s parking-lease issue once again highlights just how important it is for governments to make fiscal stability a top priority. A city in desperate need of cash is hardly well positioned to negotiate the best public-private-partnership deal. Sadly, governments that aren’t desperate don’t pursue them often enough.  Governing