After the election, Commonwealth Foundation and our friends throughout the State Policy Network received national attention. Here are some of the highlights:
Pennsylvania's red showing on Election Day surprised many, but it shouldn't have. The Keystone State is on the brink of reforms that could spread like brushfire
By Nathan Benefield and Gerard Alexander
The Weekly Standard, December 2, 2016
… Pennsylvania's gradual move away from its dark-blue, union-dominated past was reinforced, not revealed, by this election. As the trend continues, state lawmakers will become more likely to seize opportunities for transformational change.
In 2015, the Pennsylvania senate passed a paycheck protection bill, something Republican leaders scoffed at just a few years ago but which is now supported by two-thirds of state voters spanning party lines. The state house did not hold a vote on the reform, but it is primed to be a major issue in the coming session.
This October, lawmakers made another run at meaningful public sector pension reform—devising a bill that the Pew Research Center called “a major turn-around among states” and which would be the nation's largest pension reform measure in terms of dollars moved to a defined contribution plan. With no Democratic support, the measure fell just three votes short of passage in the house. The senate would have passed it easily.
Recent Republican election pickups alone should provide the support needed to push it across the legislative finish line. With the right governor, Pennsylvania could be the largest state ever to reform public pensions. Liquor privatization advocates are sure to continue their reform push. And there is more to come. There is a crying need for expanded school choice, as tens of thousands of students sit on waiting lists for scholarships or charter schools. Legislation to create education savings accounts—patterned after those in Arizona and Florida—has been proposed and could be the next fight for parental choice in education.
… Pennsylvania's red showing on Election Day surprised many, but it shouldn't have. The Keystone State is on the brink of reforms that could spread like brushfire.
Nathan Benefield is the vice president & COO of the Commonwealth Foundation. Gerard Alexander is an associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia and a member of the board of directors of the Commonwealth Foundation. You can read the full article at http://tws.io/2jt5L8Z.
We feel like for such a time as this, we’ve built up this network. We need to really run. This is a state moment.
The Spoils of the Republican State Conquest
By Kyle Peterson
Wall Street Journal, December 9, 2016
If lawmakers have any questions about where to begin, one place with answers is the State Policy Network, a federation of 65 free-market think tanks ranging from Anchorage, Alaska, to San Juan, Puerto Rico. “At the end of the day, people want jobs. They want security. That’s our bread and butter,” says Tracie Sharp, the group’s president. “We feel like for such a time as this, we’ve built up this network. We need to really run. This is a state moment.”
… A quick survey of think tankers in states where the GOP gained on Nov. 8 suggests that the mood averages somewhere between bullish and giddy. Visions of tax cuts and tort reforms are dancing in their heads.
… Pennsylvania: In October the GOP House fell three votes short on a bill to move newly hired public workers away from traditional pensions. As it happens, on Nov. 8 Republicans picked up three additional seats. “Every indication we have,” says Charles Mitchell, president of the Commonwealth Foundation, “is pension reform is coming back and it’s coming back soon.” The legislature may also put on the Democratic governor’s desk a “paycheck protection” bill, which would bar the government from collecting union political funds. “The dynamic has shifted considerably,” Mr. Mitchell says. “A lot of these issues were laughed out of the room, even under the last Republican governor.”
Read the full article at http://on.wsj.com/2hvWaf3.
[T]hanks to the infrastructure they've developed over the last 35 years, they've never had more influence for making and influencing both state and federal policy than they do now.
One Thing Conservatives Have Done Very Well
By David Freddoso
Washington Examiner, December 20, 2016
… And then there's one other important thing, the subject of a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal on the State Policy Network. The five-dozen-plus conservative think tanks in the states will play a very large role in crafting both national and state policy in the Trump era.
If Trump's promised infrastructure bill passes, state think tanks like the Granite Institute, the Goldwater Institute, and the Mackinac [Center] will be helping state legislators and governors find the best use for the money. If Medicaid waivers or block grants are suddenly on the table, they have plans for using the flexibility in the most advantageous way that have been tested and refined through use in various states.
These local think tanks, for which the Journal notes there is really no left-wing counterpart, also have ideas for softening negative effects of Obamacare repeal at the state level. And in the states that Republicans now control anew, they will be in a position to help conservative lawmakers craft initiatives that can improve their states' business climates (right to work, tax reform), educational performance (charter schools), and long-term state fiscal viability (pension reform). … [T]hanks to the infrastructure they've developed over the last 35 years, they've never had more influence for making and influencing both state and federal policy than they do now.
Read the full article at http://washex.am/2jDcu2s.