June 23, 2015

Proposal to privatize air traffic control draws support. Some might have assumed that the chairman of the House Transportation Committee was courting controversy when he said last week that he planned to introduce legislation to have the country’s air traffic control (ATC) system run by a not-for-profit corporation. But it says a great deal about how flawed and dated that system is that even in the current hotly partisan environment in Washington, Anthony Foxx, President Obama’s secretary of transportation, did not immediately reject the plan. Travel Weekly

IL: Court rules federal, state agencies violated NEPA in approving massive Ill.-Ind. toll road project. A federal judge in Chicago ruled last week that state and national transportation agencies violated the law when they approved plans for a controversial toll road to connect Illinois and Indiana. . . . The decision is a punishing blow to the Illiana Expressway, also known as the Illiana Corridor, a proposed 47-mile road that would stretch east-west between the two states. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) delayed the project earlier this month, citing budget constraints. Environment & Energy Publishing

WI: Scott Walker’s Unprecedented Voucher Expansion. At a time when other states are reinvesting in public education, Wisconsin continues to slash and burn. The Wisconsin Budget Project says that the state is now spending $1,014 less per public school student than it did in 2008 and more funds are slated to be siphoned off as Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposes an unprecedented voucher expansion, draining funds from public education and directing them to for-profit and religious schools. In crafting the budget, Walker is taking his cues from the American Federation for Children (AFC), a major force for school privatization nationwide. It is funded and chaired by billionaire Betsy DeVos, and pushes its privatization agenda in the states with high-dollar lobbying and attack ads. PR Watch

MI: Arbitrator rules state must pay workers laid off after privatizing at home for veterans. Michigan owes severance pay to eligible nursing aides who were laid off from a state-run home for veterans. . . .Two year ago, more than 130 nursing aides were laid off to save the state a little more than $4 million a year. But that savings didn’t account for the severance packages employees should have gotten. Michigan Radio

CO: U.S. 36 first phase gets send off from local, state, fed officials. The toll rates will be collected by Plenary Roads Denver, which entered into a public-private partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation to also complete the second phase of construction and to manage the entire U.S. corridor. The Denver Post

NC: 2 NC charter schools cut ties with embattled management company. Two North Carolina charter schools in danger of not getting approval to open in 2016 are cutting their ties to a management company which has schools in Florida being investigated for allegations of grade tampering. News Observer

FL: State moves to tighten rules for new charter schools. Charter school applicants would be required to disclose their history with other schools, including ones that are closed, under new rules to be considered Wednesday. Sun Sentinel

NY: School ‘Reformers’ Outspending Unions In Lobbying Battle. Groups seeking to privatize education or advocate for market-based “reforms” last year outspent Teachers’ unions, which have dominated the lobbying field for years, according to a study released last week by Common Cause New York. In a June 15 report, “Polishing the Apple,” the good-government group found that the public was being deprived of a transparent debate on education issues because of elevated spending levels on ads and lobbying. The Chief-Leader

MA: Lawmakers redraft Baker MBTA bill, set Tuesday vote. A House budget provision would suspend the law requiring a vetting process before the T attempts to privatize service. Sentinel & Enterprise