Policy Documents

The Leaflet - National School Choice Week A Big Success

February 9, 2012

Another successful National School Choice Week is in the books, and what a success it was. According to organizers, “Tens of thousands of people from all backgrounds participated in over 400 School Choice Week events in all 50 states, over 30 governors, mayors and legislators paid tribute to School Choice Week in proclamations, all to highlight the need for effective education options for every child.”

Bruno Behrend, director of Heartland’s Center for Transforming Education, attended the week’s kickoff event in New Orleans. He said, “National School Choice Week is a necessary component for the movement looking to transform education. The network of organizations, events, and news stories work together to raise awareness of the importance of choice in the education debate. All of this takes place right when the legislative agendas for the upcoming year are being formulated. National School Choice Week ensures that education is on the top of most legislative lists. The momentum behind school choice is evident.”

Since 1984, The Heartland Institute has been at the forefront of the school choice movement, educating state lawmakers around the country about everything from digital learning to the Parent Trigger. The government relations department sends its experts across the country to talk to elected officials and grassroots groups as well as to testify on education reform. Please let us know if we can be of assistance in helping to make school choice a reality in your state.

This week’s edition of The Leaflet features research and commentary addressing money following the child, the Texas margins tax, shield laws, honesty in the health insurance exchange debate, tobacco harm reduction, and chemical regulation.


John Nothdurft
Director - Government Relations
The Heartland Institute



Lead Story

Research & Commentary: School Funding that Follows the Child 

The idea of education funding following the child has several names, such as weighted student funding, backpack funding, fair-student funding, student-based budgeting, and results-based budgeting. But the meaning is the same: Education dollars attach to individual students instead of staff positions or programs. The funding is portable, and the amounts may be weighted based on students’ individual needs such as non-native English speaker, family poverty, special needs, etc.

School choice advocates encourage attaching education monies to individual children because it focuses education on the child, stymies special interests, and increases the likelihood education providers will have to compete and excel to earn money instead of receiving it automatically. Choice saves states and taxpayers money because families have strong incentives to use the money wisely, compare options, and demand more for less. It also allows for flexible, customized education if the child’s family is allowed to divide the money among several different providers and programs according to the child’s interests and needs.


What We're Working On

Policy Brief - Texas's Margins Tax: Principles for Reform
Budget & Tax

This paper describes how the margins tax works, outlines the promises made at the time of its creation, describes how those promises were broken, and provides to policymakers three guiding principles.

Texas’s franchise tax—better known as the “margins tax”—does not work as advertised. The tax has not achieved any of the goals its creators set out for it. In the 2012 legislative session, the Texas legislature should consider replacing it with some other means of raising revenue ... or with nothing at all.

Update Journalism Shield Laws for Digital Age

Enacted by 40 states in the wake of the Watergate scandal, media shield laws help strengthen freedom of the press by protecting journalists and their confidential sources from government harassment. Unfortunately, many of those laws have a huge hole in them, as states have neglected to revisit the laws to reflect the rise of citizen journalists since the advent of the Internet.

Where's The Honesty When it Comes to Health Insurance Exchanges?
Health Care

In this post from Heartland’s blog, Somewhat Reasonable, Legislative Specialist Kendall Antekeier sorts through the rhetoric of Washington and liberal media and argues against implementation of health insurance exchanges. Kendall concludes by arguing, “Success in my mind is returning power to patients, and that simply does not start with implementing a health insurance exchange.”

Research & Commentary: Tobacco Harm Reduction
Finance, Insurance and Real Estate

In this Research & Commentary, Legislative Specialist Matthew Glans examines tobacco harm reduction from multiple perspectives. Nearly 50 million American adults—more than a fifth of the nation’s adult population—smoke cigarettes. After vigorous efforts aimed at reducing that figure, the percentage of Americans who smoke has fallen by almost half in the past four decades. In recent years, however, the number of people quitting cigarettes has begun to level off, and many newly approved therapies intended to encourage quitting have proven largely ineffective—none works in more than about 8 percent of cases.

Consequently, some doctors and scientists suggest a “harm reduction” strategy in which smokers give up cigarettes and instead use tobacco or nicotine in different forms such as “e-cigarettes” or smokeless tobacco.

Review & Commentary: Chemicals of Concern

Trzupek is a chemist who has been employed as an environmental consultant to industry for more than 25 years and is the author of Regulators Gone Wild: How the EPA Is Ruining American Industry. He discussed recent developments in chemical regulation at the state and national levels, and what policymakers should consider when crafting their own policies.




Heartland's Emerging Issues Call

Topic: Hydraulic Fracturing

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm EST

Phone number: 218/936-6581

Pin: 37661

RSVP by emailing Robin Knox at rknox@heartland.org

Did you miss our call about State Chemical Regulation ?

You can listen to it here


Policy Newspaper 

Budget & Tax News

The February 2012 issue of Budget & Tax News leads with a report on the overwhelming approval by Rhode Island lawmakers of a measure to change the state’s pension system to improve solvency and control the growth of future obligations. Among other things, the effort, spearheaded by Treasurer Gina Raimondo, requires certain state workers and school teachers to move some of their retirement funds into a 401(k)-style account.



Quick Hits

The Heartland Tax Rebellion 

Overstating an enery 'crusade'

FIRE Podcast - Jack Nicholson:  Fla. insurers need 'skin in the game'