Friday Roundup: Community colleges offering BAs, immigration, open government, Seattle’s head tax threatens tech

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Stateline: More community colleges are offering bachelor’s degrees…

For students, there are pros and cons to getting a bachelor’s degree from a community college, according to the Community College Review, which follows issues related to two-year colleges. On the plus side, in addition to lower cost, students have the flexibility of studying closer to home and avoiding housing costs, while tailoring their course schedules to their work and home schedules. On the negative side, courses of study at community colleges are limited, and some schools have outdated equipment….

Community colleges could help graduate more low-income and minority students. Forty percent of students at state community colleges, where low-income and underrepresented students are more likely to enroll, transfer to four-year colleges, according to a report by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. “The central challenge,” the report said, “is to improve pathways through college.”

E21: America Needs More Legal Immigration

According to research from the Center of American Entrepreneurship, approximately 43 percent (or 216 firms) of 2017 Fortune 500 companies were founded or co-founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. This includes about 45 percent of high-tech companies.

Although entrepreneurial business growth, as measured by the Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship, is up approximately 0.2, the number of jobs created by new businesses is down by about 1.5 million since the late 1990s. To boost job growth through new businesses, the United States needs to continue to encourage immigration of both high- and low-skill workers into the United States.  A 2016 National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by economists Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan concluded that if prior immigration policies had been more selective, many immigrant-founded companies that exist today would not have been created.

The Lens: Initiative opens government labor talks to public

While the 2002 law exempts state-level talks from the Open Meetings Law, a 1990 Washington court case gave state and local governments the option to let the public attend the meetings or keep them closed. In recent years several counties and school districts have decided to open them, though one of the two school districts reversed its decision.

Initiative 1608 would remove that choice by mandating public labor negotiations at all levels of government in Washington be made public. The text reads: “This measure would make collective bargaining sessions between public employers and employee organizations open for public observation and recording, make bargaining proposals public, and establish an online library of public collective bargaining agreements.”

Supporters include Toby Nixon, president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government. He said in a statement that “When government officials do the people’s business and spend the people’s money, the public has every right to be in the room.”

American Enterprise Institute (Congressional testimony): Innovation and Growth

How can Congress foster innovation? One important way is to improve the skills of workers, helping to enable individuals to innovate. Education reform designed to teach twenty- first century skills is critical…

Beyond encouraging innovation through increasing skills and supporting basic research, there is a wide variety of actions government can take. Avoiding excessively high tax rates, reducing regulation and other barriers to technological progress, and maintaining a posture of openness to the rest of the world through international trade are just some of the ways public policy can support innovation.

Tax Foundation: Seattle Business Head Tax Proposal Threatens Its Thriving Tech Sector

Proponents of the proposed Seattle business head tax have gleefully presented it as a tax specificallytargeting the city’s large tech companies. It’s destructive as an employee hours tax (over 26 cents per hour) and it only becomes more onerous for tech sector employers once it transitions to a payroll tax, scheduled to happen in year three. The problem with that? Increasingly, tech companies don’t need to be in Seattle.

The degree to which technology companies rely on economies of conglomeration is declining, as ideas are more likely to be shared online than in cafes or technology parks. The diffusion of ideas celebrated in places like Silicon Valley and Seattle now happens in communities that aren’t defined by a physical location. Agglomeration still matters, but not as much as it used to, and in a field with far more competitors…

Given that Chicago scrapped a business head tax less than one-eleventh as large as “a job killer,” the latest in Seattle’s long line of proposed tax increases has the potential to be shockingly counterproductive.