Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New CAP Report Outlines Slate of Progressive Policies for State and Local Leaders
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — A new report released today by the Center for American Progress outlines a slate of progressive policies for state and local elected leaders to pursue in order to help people secure good jobs and good wages and to support strong and healthy communities in which all people are treated fairly and equitably. CAP’s report is intended to serve as a starting point for states and localities looking for progressive ideas in 2018 and beyond. It builds on proposals already core to progressive governance across the country, such as raising the minimum wage and expanding Medicaid.

“As laboratories of democracy, states and cities are already leading the way on progressive policy development and enactment, and are the first line of defense against conservative ideology,” said Neera Tanden, president and CEO of CAP. “From jobs and the economy to health care and early childhood education, these ideas can serve as a starting point for progressives at all levels of government.”

“I am pleased to see the Center for American Progress highlighting the ways that forward-looking states like Washington are leading the way on bold, progressive policies such as paid family leave and raising the minimum wage. This report clearly demonstrates that it is possible to have a strong, inclusive economy that works for everyone,” Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) said. “Change must come from the states and it is up to us to lead the way by living our values and demonstrating that there are alternatives to the federal government’s harmful and misguided policies.”

“On issues where Washington fails to work for the betterment of our people and our communities, the states have become the best testing ground for innovative social and economic solutions,” Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) said. “The Center for American Progress recognizes the need for states to step up and improve the lives of Americans, through the creation of bold, progressive ideas. From having state government agencies assist with automatic voter registration efforts and publicly releasing gun crime reports to expanding access to medical marijuana and standing up for Dreamers, New Jersey has shown true leadership. We are building a stronger and fairer economy that works for every New Jerseyan and the next generation of New Jerseyans to come.”

“Now more than ever, states must take the lead when it comes to standing up for their people,” said Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR). “While Washington D.C. falls apart, in Oregon people are coming together to champion policies that support and grow their communities, not tear them down. While we have had a lot of success in Oregon—ensuring fair employee scheduling, health care for every child, and ending the use of coal power, to name a few—we have much more work to do. CAP’s work is key to policymakers and stakeholders alike as we all work towards communities where everyone can thrive.”

CAP’s report offers a variety of policy solutions to the most urgent problems confronting Americans today. Policy proposals include:

  • Economy: Restore basic employee protections such as overtime; expand apprenticeships; boost families’ incomes by creating or expanding state earned income tax credits; raise wages industrywide with wage boards; empower workers who were previously excluded from bargaining; open markets by combating anticompetitive practices; enable entrepreneurs to overcome inequality; create a subsidized jobs program; and rebuild wealth through stronger retirement security.
  • K-12 and postsecondary education: Support, train, and pay teachers like professionals; transition to a 9-to-5 school day to better fit parents’ needs; offer every student the opportunity to participate in technical training and workplace experiences as part of their classroom learning; create healthier K-12 school environments; provide free community college; get adults across the college finish line; implement a student loan borrowers’ bill of rights; develop state data systems that connect higher education and labor market outcomes; ensure equitable distribution of four-year colleges; and hold private colleges accountable.
  • Early childhood: Expand access to high-quality child care and preschool; invest in child care infrastructure; support the early childhood workforce; and reduce maternal and infant mortality.
  • Health care: Drive down health care costs through payment and delivery system reform; reduce the price of prescription drugs; and use state-based policies to strengthen the marketplaces.
  • Restoring democracy: Limit special interests; improve ethics and campaign finance requirements; require candidates to disclose tax returns; enact automatic voter registration; improve election security; and restore citizens’ voting rights.
  • Clean energy and the environment: Put people to work while taking climate action; expand electric transportation; create state future funds; and grow the outdoor economy.
  • Women and families: Expand access to paid family and medical leave; ensure equal pay for equal work; prevent and respond to sexual harassment; and protect the patient-provider relationship.
  • LGBTQ rights: Support LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections and support paid leave policies that expand the definition of family to include chosen family.
  • Immigration: Create an immigrant legal justice fund to guarantee legal representation to immigrants; issue driver’s licenses and state identification cards regardless of immigration status; and streamline state licensing to allow immigrant workers to easily enter or re-enter their occupations.
  • Criminal justice: Respond to substance misuse as an epidemic, not a war; make the pretrial system fairer and more effective; and enable people with minor criminal records to earn a “clean slate.”
  • Gun violence prevention: Implement strong laws and policies to help keep guns out of the wrong hands and protect communities by preventing gun theft.

The report released today builds on CAP’s growing focus on state and local work. In 2015, CAP created a state and local government affairs team to liaise with governors, mayors, attorneys general, state legislators, and other municipal elected officials. CAP has partnered with state and local elected officials and allied organizations on a number of initiatives, including:

  • Criminal justice: CAP’s criminal justice and poverty teams led a bipartisan coalition in Pennsylvania to pass “clean slate” legislation, which would enable individuals to have qualifying nonviolent misdemeanor convictions automatically sealed after they have remained crime-free for a set period of time. In February 2018, CAP launched Mayors for Smart on Crime,  a network of mayors who are working to promote data and evidence-driven solutions to public safety and criminal justice reforms.
  • Election security: In February 2018, CAP released a report on election security, which analyzed and graded election security statutes and procedures in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. CAP conducted hundreds of interviews with state election officials in almost every state, as well as some county officials. After the report was released, a number of states announced positive changes to their election security policies.
  • Climate and the environment: In 2017, CAP consulted with a range of cities across the country on the development of a report that identified legislative and executive actions mayors could take to build just and resilient cities. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh invited CAP to participate in a press conference to highlight CAP’s report and Boston’s success to date on equitable climate resilience strategies. And after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, CAP helped organize and recruit state and local elected officials to join a sign-on letter, We Are Still In, in support of the Paris agreement.
  • Infrastructure: Prior to the release of Trump’s infrastructure proposal, CAP collaborated with a coalition of progressive organizations to push back on the White House’s highly regressive proposal. CAP helped lead outreach to governors, mayors, and local elected officials, and provided critical resources including state-by-state numbers, messaging guidance, and real-time policy analysis.

Click here to read “Bold Ideas for State Action” from the Center for American Progress.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at or 202.478.6331.