CEI Today: New EPA regs for power plants, DC mayor vetoes Walmart wage bill, and companies cave to Greens
Friday, September 13, 2013
In the News Today
Friday, September 13, 2013
In the News Today
New Wal-Mart Stores in Nation’s Capital Will Benefit Consumers and Workers
WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 12, 2013 – Today, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed a union-backed bill that would have levied an especially high minimum wage on Wal-Mart—and Wal-Mart alone. Although the legislation’s wording seems to apply to all large retailers, it defined them so only Wal-Mart would have been affected by the law.
The retail giant originally planned to open as many as six stores in the city, but said it would scale back its plans and open only three stores if the measure became law. The law would have required it to pay at least $12.50 per hour in wages and benefits, substantially more than the city’s existing $8.25 minimum wage. The City Council does not appear to have the votes to override the veto, but labor unions supporting the bill are likely to make a major push for its override.
CEI regulatory expert Ryan Young praised the mayor’s bold move.
“Mayor Gray stood up for District residents, consumers, and job seekers who will benefit from an influx of low-cost retailers,” Young said. “The city council and a predictable cadre of activists unfairly targeted a specific business for political gain—and economic loss. Mayor Gray’s decision will allow hundreds of new jobs to be created in the District. Just as important, D.C.’s consumers will benefit from another retail and grocery competitor joining the market.”
CEI labor policy analyst Ivan Osorio also praised Gray’s decision.
“It’s nice to see common sense prevail on an issue that never should have been politically contentious in the first place. Wal-Mart was targeted merely for its nonunion status. Unfortunately, it is now common for unions to spend more time demonizing employers than attracting members. Is it any wonder they are dwindling in the private sector?”
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Despite bigger appropriation and strong demand, fewer children enrolled for 2012-2013 school year
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 23, 2012)—The highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) enrolled 1,584 children from low-income families for the 2012-2013 school year—fewer students than last year—in a reduction that comes despite a near $5 million increase in funding over the previous school year.
The D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (Trust), which administers the program, received nearly 1,500 new applications for the 2012-2013 school year, despite being told not to accept applications after March 31 of this year. In addition, the Trust was not given permission to hold scholarship lotteries for new applicants until July of this year.
The lower enrollment numbers are the result of a year-long effort by the U.S. Department of Education to limit participation in the OSP. In March, President Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposal zeroed out funding for the program, contradicting the law he signed last year. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) then sent a letter to the president pressing him and the administration to reverse course and expedite full implementation of the program.
After several weeks of negotiations, Speaker Boehner and Senator Lieberman announced in June that an agreement had been reached with the Department that would fully implement the program. The Department’s overall implementation guidance to the Trust, however, resulted in just 319 children being offered new scholarships and prevented hundreds of additional children from enrolling, including eligible private school children from low-income families who were specifically excluded.
“It is simply tragic that fewer children are participating in the OSP this year given the availability of funds and the incredibly strong demand from low-income District families,” said Kevin P. Chavous, senior advisor to the American Federation for Children and a former D.C. Councilmember. “This program provides children who are most in need with access to a quality education, and it’s appalling that the U.S. Department of Education continues to stand in the way of that vital choice.”
A bipartisan agreement in 2011 reauthorized the D.C. OSP at $20 million annually for five years. Under the FY 2011 budget agreement, the OSP received $15.5 million in funding for the 2011-2012 school year. The appropriation for FY 2012 was $20 million, which covered the 2012-2013 school year. For FY 2013, Congress is currently operating under a continuing resolution through March 31, 2013, which includes authority for the OSP to spend at an annual rate of $20 million.
Following reauthorization of the OSP last year, the demand was so strong that enrollment went from just over 1,000 children to more than 1,600— a 60 percent increase for the 2010-2011 school year. Demand was equally strong heading into this school year.
“Nearly 1,500 low-income families submitted applications to enroll their children in the OSP, but DOE’s guidance meant only 319 were offered scholarships,” Chavous said. “That’s not in the spirit of giving every child hope, that’s not fighting for equal access regardless of family income, and that’s not following the law.”
Because of the limited number of new students participating, a credible federal evaluation of the program cannot be initiated this year. The previous evaluation of the program found that OSP students graduate at a rate of 91 percent—more than 20 percentage points higher than those interested in the program, but who did not receive a scholarship. A subsequent study by the D.C. Trust found that 94 percent of participating students graduated in 2010 and 2011, and 89 percent of those graduates enrolled in a two- or four-year college. The program also enjoys very high parental satisfaction, with 92 percent of parents reporting being very or somewhat happy with their child’s academic progress in the program.
The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is the only federally-funded private school voucher program. Since its inception in 2004, more than 11,000 families have applied for the program, and nearly 6,000 have received scholarships.
Read this release online here.
March 28, 2012
Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman argues that austerity measures will have a depressing effect on economic output. He's right. That is, if all you're doing is cutting.
The Supreme Court is trying to decide the constitutionality of ObamaCare. ObamaCarewatcher.org's John Vinci explains what this debate is all about.
It is generally agreed that in order to win this case, the respondents (opponents of the law) will have to win over the four conservatives on the bench, Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito, as well as, the court's perennial swing vote, Justice Kennedy.
The Republican Study Committee alternative budget would balance the budget this decade.
Despite reauthorization agreement, Obama aims to halt highly-successful Opportunity Scholarship Program
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 13, 2012)—President Barack Obama’s newly-released federal budget would not provide funding to the highly-successful D.C. voucher program, despite an agreement signed by the president last year that reauthorized the program.
The American Federation —the nation’s voice for school choice—strongly decries the president’s failure to provide funding to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), which currently provides scholarships to more than 1,600 children from low-income families across the nation’s capital to attend the private schools of their parents’ choice.
Though the OSP is in little danger of going unfunded—Congress is charged with appropriating funds, and House Speaker John Boehner is an ardent defender of the program—the move by President Obama is effectively a reneging on the promise he made last April in a budget agreement he signed that helped avert a government shutdown.
“The president says he’s for education reform, but his actions continually aim to send low-income and minority students back to schools that are failing them academically, are unsafe, or are otherwise not meeting their needs,” said Kevin P. Chavous, a senior advisor to AFC and a former D.C. Councilman. “This latest hypocrisy is just the most recent instance in which the president has stood in the way of students who are improving test scores and graduating in higher numbers.”
Since barring new students from entering the program in 2009, Obama has made a number of statements expressing support for reform that have contradicted his actions regarding the OSP. In 2010, President Obama publicly stated that he would not send his daughters to D.C. public schools, despite actively working to bar low-income families from having that choice.
And while the president rightly talks about the nation’s severe dropout crisis—as he did in his State of the Union address last month—he’s unwilling to support the OSP, where students’ 91 percent graduation rate is 21 percentage points higher than those who applied but couldn’t get a scholarship. And according to the Institute of Education Sciences—the primary research arm of the U.S. Department of Education—the OSP has the second highest achievement impact of any of the programs it has studied so far.
Since the program’s inception in 2004, more than 10,000 families have applied to participate in the OSP. Four years of studies by Georgetown University and the University of Arkansas have shown overwhelming parental satisfaction, and 74 percent of D.C. residents polled a year ago supported reauthorization. More than 700 participants participated in a signup event for the program on Saturday, hosted by the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation. The Trust received more than 520 applications at the event.
“By any reasonable measure, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program has been an overwhelming success,” Chavous said. “President Obama wouldn’t be where he is today without a private school scholarship. He needs to stop playing politics and do what’s right for kids.”
Read this release online here.