January 29, 2021

Does Big Labor matter more than America’s taxpayers? That’s the message that’s being sent by President Joe Biden.

Just days ago, Biden restored the largely unrestricted practice of “official time” (or “release time”) to federal unions, repealing an earlier order by his predecessor, Donald Trump, that limited the practice which allows union officials employed by the federal government to spend their days working for their unions while still drawing full pay and benefits from the taxpayers. Goldwater Institute National Investigative Journalist Mark Flatten writes about this repeal in a new post at In Defense of Liberty.

Flatten recently completed a multi-part series of reports looking into this practice, which occurs on the federal, state, and local levels. He surveyed 150 jurisdictions across the country to learn about their release time practices, and what he uncovered was shocking: Not only can more than 400,000 hours of release time be documented across the country annually, but many jurisdictions don’t even bother to track these hours.

Earlier this week, the Goldwater Institute hosted a webinar looking into release time. Not only is this practice a pervasive problem, but we don’t even know how big a problem it actually is. This week, Flatten and Goldwater Director of National Litigation Jon Riches discussed the issue of release time in a virtual webinar hosted by Goldwater Director of Communications Mike Brownfield, talking about what release time is, what its impact is on communities and taxpayers, and what can be done to stop this unfair and unconstitutional practice.

You can watch the full webinar above—and to learn more about what the Goldwater Institute is doing to stop release time, click here.

Raise the Wage Act Would Be a Job-killer

The proposal of a $15 federal minimum wage has resurfaced, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for millions of struggling Americans.

The Raise the Wage Act has just been introduced in Congress, looking to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. Back in 2019, the Congressional Budget Office such a proposal could result in the loss of as many as 3.7 million lost jobs. Now, with nearly a year of the catastrophic economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic under our belt, this plan would be disastrous for countless small businesses and employees across the country, particularly low-income workers. The Goldwater Institute has spoken out against such proposals in the past, maintaining that Congress should instead focus on cutting taxes and regulatory red tape that make it difficult to start and run a business.

Read more from Goldwater Institute Deputy Director of Communications Jennifer Tiedemann at In Defense of Liberty.

Wrapping Up National School Choice Week

Today concludes National School Choice Week, a nationwide celebration of educational freedom. Not all students are the same, and not all schools are equal, and that’s why providing a wide array of school choice options is so important. It ensures that kids can receive the education that best fits their individual needs. With school choice, we can craft an educational environment that works for all students and families.

This week, at In Defense of Liberty, we talked about the impacts of school choice on students, released a new study showing how having a robust landscape of private education is linked increased levels of public school per pupil funding, and illustrated how having choice in education has helped families adapt to the new educational realities of COVID-19.

The Goldwater Institute is proud to lead a nationwide effort to make educational freedom a reality for more Americans. Several years ago, we pioneered education savings accounts (ESAs), which let families take a portion of funds already being used on their children’s education and instead use that money to pay for the education and teaching tools that best help their children learn. Students in six states are currently benefiting from ESAs—and we’ll keep working in 2021 to give more students access to this game-changing program.

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