The Center for Media and Democracy recently put on line over 800 pieces of “model legislation” from an organization known as ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. The Rochester Citizen was in Madison when the story broke and the ALEC Exposed web site live.
The Center for Media and Democracy is located in Madison, Wisconsin and we had a chance to sit down with its Executive Director, Lisa Graves and talk about the disclosure of over 800 pieces of model legislation and the implications for America and ALEC.
The Rochester Citizen referred to Mr. McMillin in one our articles a copy and paste legislator. Would you say that’s an accurate description of what’s going on in this coalition between legislators and corporate America?
“I think that’s a very apt description. I’m glad you say copy and paste versus cut and paste because sounds like he didn’t cut anything out at all.”
Another bill Mr. McMillin introduced was really interesting. I don’t know if you looked at this one, but it’s called the Michigan Government Competition Against Private Enterprise Act and the ALEC bill that I found that seems similar is the Competitive Contracting of Government Services Act. They’re not exactly the same, but they certainly seem to have the same goal, which is to keep government from competing with any type of service that government usually or that private industry could provide. He was questioned about it at one of his town hall meetings and by a teacher who was concerned that he was interested in privatizing teachers or basically public education. He’s the main sponsor on the bill and he tried to disavow that he was even involved with that. Is that a bill that you’ve seen in other states besides coming up where they want to privatize, basically privatize government?
“It’s something that is in many of the ALEC bills, that bill that you mentioned, the DNA of those bills is the same. And one of the things that we found in our research that was particularly interesting was that many of these ideas, this privatization binge, that certain government functions should be done for the public good and not just outsourced to the public sector, the idea that our tax dollars shouldn’t always be going to line someone else’s pocket. In the public education area it’s astonishing to me, quite frankly, looking at some of the bills to see that some of these bills have provisions that would require the city or the state school district basically to pay the same per pupil amount of money that the local school receives to a private school, that could be a corporate school, a for-profit school, whether that school has the same facilities, whether it has the same brick and mortar, whether it has the same extracurricular activities, coaching athletics, whether it has school buses, whether it has any sort of infrastructure at all actually costs money. When money, equal money in essence is taken out of the public taken out of the taxpayer dollars and just given to a corporation, they are exacting a significant profit from that interchange without providing the same benefits, not providing a school system that has a full athletic program without necessarily – maybe some private schools do, but many of these schools they don’t have to have that at all. They could be an on line school. They could be a school that has twenty students or fifty students and to get the same amount of money on a per pupil basis, it’s basically just taking a huge slice of profit at taxpayer expense.