FPI joins Government and Budget Watchdogs to Call on Assembly Speaker Heastie to Allow Vote on Database of Deals and Comptroller’s Procurement Integrity Act

June 18, 2018. The Fiscal Policy Institute joined Citizens Budget Commission, Citizens Union, Common Cause NY, and Reinvent Albany in front of the Federal Courthouse in Manhattan to call on Assembly Speaker Heastie to Allow a vote on the Database of Deals and Comptroller’s Procurement Integrity Act.

FPI’s Chief Economist, Jonas Shaende gave the following remarks during the press conference this afternoon, “The lack of transparency and proper oversight enables corruption as is evidenced by these massive criminal trials. The public should know where and how public money is spent. Without appropriate data it is hard to tell whether New Yorkers are getting a good return on their investments through state-funded economic development initiatives. Currently, as if by design, it’s hard to tell if any of these deals make good economic sense. This is why transparency and open data would introduce meaningful improvements to governance and economic policy. FPI strongly supports the Database of Deals and Comptroller Procurement Integrity Act.”

The Database of Deals would increase the transparency of the state’s $4B in annual spending on business subsidies. The comptroller’s Procurement Integrity Act restores and extends the comptroller’s authority to independently review state contracts and act as an independent referee to ensure rules, including MWBE rules, are followed. To learn more about FPI’s work involving these policies see the press release here and continue checking our websites for updates.

My Parents Came to Houston As Refugees. Now I Help Keep Their Dream Alive.

June 20, 2018. In this op-ed, by Tina Hinh, a refugee to the United States who now works for the UN, discusses her pride of Houston where her family was resettled. She writes about her family’s experience in a Malaysian refugee camp where the UN provided them with food and medicine and their invitation to the United States to resettle in Houston, Texas. She expresses her pride in Houston for being the most diverse city in the U.S. and of their welcoming community and her gratefulness for giving her family the chance to live the American Dream.

Our story isn’t unique. Across America, you can find refugees rebuilding their lives and contributing to the communities that welcomed them. These communities, in turn, benefit from this dedicated workforce. A recent Fiscal Policy Institute report found that refugees had a 7-15 percent lower turnover rate than the overall workforce. Additionally, multiple studies have found that refugees are net contributors to the U.S. economy, paying taxes and helping grow the economy. The benefits of resettlement go both ways — for the individual who was granted sanctuary and for the community that welcomed them.

Beyond economic and policy considerations, America — including Houston — has a long and unwavering tradition of welcoming refugees to its shores. We are a constant beacon of light for those who have fled oppressive regimes while providing a model for other countries to follow. We are, in the words of President Reagan, “a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all of the pilgrims from all of the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.”

Here is the link to the Houston Chronicle.

Atlanta-Based Amplio Recruiting Is Making Every Day World Refugee Day

June 19, 2018. A press release, featured in Payment Week, discusses Amplio Recruiting’s year-round mission to hire and recruit refugees for employers. World Refugee Day is June 20th and this press release highlights Amplio Recruiting’s efforts that are not limited to one day. The release goes on to discuss Amplio Recruiting’s successes that include helping 300 refugees find jobs in 2017 and contributing $35 thousand to programs that provide job training for refugees. Amplio Recruiting has a goal to help 600 refugees find full-time jobs in 2018.

Refugees have come from around the world to make better lives for themselves and their families. An essential part of this effort is finding employment. By uniting businesses with refugees, Atlanta-based Amplio Recruiting is tapping into a labor source that has been proven to be reliable and committed to improving their lives in their new home country.

Despite popular perception, refugees aren’t a burden on the economy. A 2018 study conducted by the Fiscal Policy Institute surveyed some United States employers that hired refugees. Seventy-six percent of respondents reported higher retention rates for refugees than other employees.

The recruiting office also has a 70 percent hiring retention rate compared to the industry standard of 40 percent. Today, there are 156 refugee employees on Amplio Recruiting’s payroll. In 2017, refugees working for Amplio paid over $1 million in United States taxes.

Here is the link to Payment Week.

Why Hiring Refugees Is Good for Business

June 19, 2018. FPI’s policy analyst, Cyierra Roldan, and Deputy Director, David Dyssegaard Kallick, co-authored an article that was featured in Refugees Deeply, a platform of News Deeply. The article discusses their six month long research that included interviewing employers who hired refugees in Atlanta, Georgia, Phoenix, Arizona, upstate New York and central Nebraska. The research included three major findings. These findings were of the 29 employers interviewed, 73 percent reported a higher retention rate for refugees than for employees overall, employing refugees opens the doors for others to a diversified, accepting and accommodating workforce with good management and a recruitment benefit for the firm.

How is refugee integration into the workforce going in the United States? Much better than you might think, especially if you’ve been listening to controversies in the media but haven’t recently visited a factory floor or a healthcare facility that employs refugees.

We spent six months doing just that – visiting the places where refugees work. We interviewed refugees, their employers, resettlement agencies and others in the community in four parts of the U.S.: Atlanta, Georgia; Phoenix, Arizona; upstate New York; and eastern and central Nebraska. The study we produced, Refugees as Employees: Good Retention, Strong Recruitment, found that employers are not only happy with the refugees they’ve hired, they’ve often learned from the experience and become better managers of a diverse workforce. We found at least three ways that integrating refugees can be good for business.

Employers, it turns out, like refugee workers. But that’s not just to feel good about providing an opportunity to refugees. Their firms are financially rewarded for investing in a welcoming and inclusive work environment.

Here is the link to Refugees Deeply.

Political Opponents Slam Cuomo on First Day of Corruption Trial of Governor’s Former Associates

June 18, 2018. This article and corresponding radio clip discusses the bid rigging trial of a former associate of Governor Cuomo and two upstate development firms, who are accused of fraudulently obtaining lucrative taxpayer-funded state contracts, and the currently stalled-in-the-Assembly package of accountability and transparency reform bills. Multiple reform groups, including the Fiscal Policy Institute, want the Assembly to pass the package and restore the State Comptroller’s authority over reviewing the economic development contracts, and enact a public database, known as the “Database of Deals,” of all of the taxpayer funded projects, with information on how much the project costs, the state grants and tax breaks the projects are receiving, and how many jobs are being created.

Ron Deutsch, with the union funded think tank Fiscal Policy Institute, says there are questions about whether the governor’s multi billion dollar statewide economic programs are the best use of taxpayer money.

“We don’t know if a lot of these economic development programs are creating jobs,” Deutsch said.

Here is the article and radio clip from WXXI News.

FPI Supports Calls to Protect SNAP

June 14, 2018. FPI’s Policy Analyst, Shamier Settle and Chief Economist, Jonas Shaende joined the Poor People’s Campaign and Rise & Resist at their rally against potential cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The House Agriculture Committee farm bill (H.R. 2) outlines cuts and discontinuation of SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) for a substantial number of low-income Americans. This proposal contains $20 billion in cuts to the SNAP program and provisions for expanded work requirements. There is little empirical evidence that such requirements lead to improvements in employment.

In the state of New York nearly 3 million people rely on SNAP to avoid being hungry on a daily basis. Over 1 million of these people are children. Reducing these benefits will multiply hunger and poverty among New Yorkers. Furthermore, it will have a negative effect on consumer spending and jobs because less money will be spent at grocery stores and supermarkets. As an economic policy cutting SNAP is bad and indefensible. Previous research from the Fiscal Policy Institute also reflects the harm that would be caused by defunding the SNAP program.


Welcoming Immigrants: The Work of Key Makers

June 15, 2018. In this article, by Edwin López Moya, he discusses the efforts of Philadelphia to become a  welcoming city for immigrants. Specifically he talks about the successes of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians which provides support and training to foreign professionals to help them get credentialing and jobs in the United States. This helps these foreign professionals from having to accept low wage positions. The article acknowledges research that finds that immigrants contribute to the overall economy through entrepreneurship and revitalization.

At the core of Philadelphia’s values is a simple idea: inclusion as a road to development and progress. However, the city’s doors have not always been open to all. This contradiction in principles and practice is what gave birth to the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, founded in 2003 by Anne O’Callaghan.  

Philadelphia’s title as the City of Brotherly Love does not in and of itself explain why it continues to be an attractive destination for immigrants despite the fact that it has the highest poverty rate of any large city in the country, at 25.3 percent.

A report from the Fiscal Policy Institute and Americas Society/Council of the Americas confirms the profound impact that immigrant communities have had here. According to the study “Bringing Vitality to Main Street: How Immigrants Small Businesses Help Local Economies Grow,” foreign entrepreneurs have an 18 percent participation rate in the growth of local small businesses, and are overall more likely to open their own business.

Here is the link to Al Dia.

Our View: Governor’s Aversion to Reforms is Telling

June 14, 2018. This article discusses the package of accountability and transparency economic development bills stalled in the Assembly. The measures do have bipartisan support among the rank-and-file in the Assembly and were already approved, overwhelmingly, in the Senate. However, Assembly leadership continues to sit on the bills in the hopes that Governor Cuomo will come to an agreement on their necessity.

Ronald Deutsch, director of the labor-backed Fiscal Policy Institute, which also supports the anti-corruption measures, also thinks Cuomo ultimately is responsible for the logjam.

“The governor doesn’t want anyone looking over his shoulder despite the fact he wants to look over everybody else’s shoulder,” Deutsch opined.

Here is the link to the Lockport Journal.

Cynthia Nixon Aims to Tax Wealthy to Pay for $7 Billion Education Plan

June 13, 2018. This article discusses how gubernatorial candidate, Cynthia Nixon, plans to raise taxes on high-earners and businesses to pay for her $7.4 billion education plan to expand access to college and boost spending on K-12 education. Multiple organizations, including the Fiscal Policy Institute, commented on her plans to raise taxes to pay for expanding education and mass transit throughout the state.

Jonas Shaende, chief economist at the left-leaning Fiscal Policy Institute, said he supported efforts to find more revenues through taxes on the wealthiest residents. While some critics of boosting taxes say high-earners would flee New York to escape increases, Mr. Shaende said many aren’t as mobile as they might seem. “There has to be a lot more happening on top of the tax situation to make them leave,” Mr. Shaende said.

Here is the link to the Wall Street Journal.

In Albany, Nixon backs tax cap, but has plan to ease override procedure

June 8, 2018. This articles discusses how gubernatorial candidate, Cynthia Nixon, expressed her support for the two percent property tax cap and that overriding it should be easier if residents of a school district want to exceed that cap during an Albany meeting with school superintendents. Multiple organizations, including the Fiscal Policy Institute, weighed in during the meeting about the impact of tax cuts.

Before Nixon arrived, superintendents heard from state finance experts Frank Mauro and E.J. McMahon on how the Republican/Trump tax cuts may affect their finances.

Mauro, who is the emeritus director of the union-backed Fiscal Policy Institute, said the state may want to keep the “millionaire’s tax” in place after its sunset date at the end of 2019 in order to ensure there is enough state aid.

Here is a link to the Times Union.

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