April 17, 2014


Bipartisan Plan to Privatize Tax Collection Hits Opposition. Part of the Tax Reform Act of 2014, written by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), would require the Treasury Department to contract with private collection agencies to pursue tax debts not addressed by the Internal Revenue Service. Now, Taxpayer Advocate Service and the National Treasury Employees Union are releasing findings and statements that run counter to the proposal. . . . . In a 2013 report on the IRS Private Debt Collection Program, Taxpayer Advocate Service found that the IRS collected about $53 million, or 62 percent, more over the course of two years than private collection agencies (PCAs). Also, the IRS collected a greater percentage of available dollars than private collection agencies, 9.2 percent to 5.4 percent. . . .[W]hile private collectors collected more tax dollars in the first six-month period than the IRS, over time IRS collections were more consistent. Private collection agencies had six months of success, before drastically decreasing the dollar amount and percentage of available taxpayer dollars collected.   InsideARM

“A self-fulfilling conflict of interest”: Charter schools, testing mania, and Arne Duncan. The privatization of education “began as driven by ideology, but now [it’s] getting momentum because of the financial aspects,” Rep. Raul Grijalva argued to Salon. The Arizona Democrat called charter schools “a step towards” privatization, called the Chicago teachers’ strike a “necessary pushback” and warned of a “self-fulfilling conflict of interest.” A condensed version of our conversation follows.  Salon

Thousands turn out for Labor Notes conference. In a major political development, over 2,000 trade union activists and friends attended the conference, which was geared toward helping unionists find ways to build coalitions and win struggles in today’s difficult political climate. Besides the Chicago Teacher’s Union, official union delegations, some quite large, were present from other teacher’s unions, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Teamsters, Steelworkers, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), both major longshore unions ILWU and ILA, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the International Union of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), food and commercial workers, farmworkers, nurses and others. Some delegations were sent directly from International leadership offices. “Our nation’s postal service was set by our nation’s revolution, with the guarantee, written into our constitution, that every American citizen be served equally, having access to our service,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “Those trying to privatize it and cut service to some are in violation of our nation’s constitution.”   People’s World

New article on criminal law enforcement privatization. Sharon Finegan of South Texas College of Law has an article in last year’s volume of the University of Massachusetts Law Review: Watching the Watchers: The Growing Privatization of Criminal Law Enforcement and the Need for Limits on Neighborhood Watch Associations. Here’s the abstract.  Washington Post

AZ: Bill would boost public money for private school. The Arizona Senate has given initial approval to a bill that would expand the state’s school voucher program and would increase the amount in public funds a student could receive to attend private school. The bill would expand Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts eligibility to siblings of students who are current or past recipients and to those who have not previously attended public school. Current rules require students to attend public school before being eligible.  WRAL.com

VA: Toll Road Rates Could Remain Flat–With Federal Money. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority today repeated its plan to hold tolls on the Dulles Toll Road at their current rate for the next five years–a plan that is predicated on federal money being issued for the Silver Line Metro project. Leesburg Today

VT: House freezes school privatization debate. The question of whether voters should be allowed to “flip” public schools into private entities has churned for months in Vermont. After lengthy debate on the House floor Wednesday, the issue has been tabled. For now. To date, two Vermont schools have gone from public to private. The Senate after much negotiation produced a study committee to look deeper into the constitutionality of both sides: “flipping” a school, as senators came to call it, and prohibiting the flips.  vtdigger.org