By Serena Unrein

For the first time, Arizona’s State Transportation Board approved a state rail plan which includes connecting the major metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson by passenger rail. In a state known for its reliance on single-occupant vehicles and its lack of good public transportation, this is a crucial step forward for providing Arizonans with better transportation options.

Over the past few decades, Arizona’s population has skyrocketed, but our population growth hasn’t been matched by an investment in public transportation, leaving most Arizonans to rely on their cars to get around.

Most Arizonans make daily trips for work, school or other responsibilities such as getting to doctor’s appointments and visiting family members. Unfortunately, our current transportation system has many of us stuck endlessly waiting in traffic, spewing pollution into the air and paying more and more at the gas pump to fill our tank. There has got to be a better way.

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Riane Eisler

By Riane Eisler and Rene Redwood

A financial debt can be paid back. But the debt we’ll owe our children if investments in health, nutrition and education are slashed is irreparable. Investment in human infrastructure – providing the human capacity development for optimal economic productivity and innovation through both government and business investments – is essential for success in the post-industrial economy, and this should be our policymakers’ guiding economic principle.

Rene Redwood
It’s up to us to ask the hard questions: Why are we being told we can’t raise taxes on the rich, but must cut wages for teachers, nurses, child-care workers and others on whom our future depends? There is no evidence that lower taxes on corporations and millionaires “raise all boats,” or that massive cuts in social services have ever helped people in developing nations rise from poverty. The opposite is true. It is countries like Canada, Sweden, New Zealand and Finland that have made commitments to caring for future generations that have risen from poverty to prosperity. And today nations such as Brazil, South Korea, and other “emerging advanced economies” are heavily investing in their people.

Why are we told that cutting social programs is the road to prosperity, when our past prosperity was the result of the very opposite?

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By Tsedeye Gebreselassie

In 2006, Nevada voters did a really smart thing. Recognizing that their state’s minimum wage stayed flat year after year, despite rising costs of living, the people of Nevada voted to index their minimum wage rate to adjust annually with the cost of living. In the last few years, these small annual increases have helped thousands of working families make ends meet in a rough economy, while providing a modest boost in precisely the type of consumer spending our nascent recovery needs.

Rather than celebrate voters’ sound economic move, critics of the minimum wage see an opportunity to once again toss out their usual—and widely discredited—claims that a strong minimum wage is a “job-killer.” Counting on understandable anxiety about Nevada’s stubbornly high unemployment rate, opponents of the minimum wage have proposed state legislation that would begin a repeal process for the initiative passed by Nevada’s voters just four years ago.

Let’s quickly dispense with these “job-killing” claims. Real-world experiences with minimum wage increases have produced little evidence of job losses. The decade following the federal minimum wage increase in 1996-97 ushered in one of the strongest periods of job growth in decades. Analyses of states with minimum wages higher than the federal floor between 1997 and 2007 showed that their job growth was actually stronger overall than in states that kept the lower federal level. And just last winter, a rigorous study finding that increasing the minimum wage does not lead to job loss was published in the Review of Economics and Statistics. Economists at the University of Massachusetts, University of North Carolina, and University of California compared employment data among every pair of neighboring U.S. counties that straddle a state border and had differing minimum wage levels at any time between 1990 and 2006. Analyzing employment and earnings data of over 500 counties, they found that minimum wage increases did not cost jobs.

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