Monday, May 07, 2007

Backpacking on the trail to School Choice with Ralph Martire: On Cable and Streaming

Ralph Martire, Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability ["CTBA"], is the featured guest on tonight’s [8:30 pm, Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV]] encore performance in our City of Chicago edition of "Public Affairs," which airs through-out the entire City.

Martire debates school choice-school vouchers and a variety of other education and tax issues tonight with show host and executive legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz [See here]. The show can also be watched on your computer, See the February 25, 2007 show at
Martire, considering the growing but releatively small size of his organization, has had enormous influence on developing and promoting the Illinois Left Legislative agenda, especially with respect to education funding and taxes. Martire is said to be the architect of HB 750, the tax swap that consists of a five to seven billion dollar net increase in state taxes.

Although Martire describes his organization as non-partisan, it seems to have a distinctly left, liberal Democratic cast to it. Having helped create and drum up support for HB 750, it appears that CTBA is covering all bases by promoting the analysis of a sister think tank that blesses the Governor’s Gross Receipts Tax, albeit making some modifications that include an increase in the individual and corporate income tax [see here].

The CTBA board is well represented by labor unions, including the Presidents of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Legislative Director at SEIU, Local 1 and Research Director at AFSCME, Council 31.

Although there appears to be a quasi, nominal Republican or two on the CTBA Board, these folks don’t look to be a part of the Republican base, while the Democrats on the Board would appear to be very comfortable with the Democratic base. In short, it is no surprise, given his Board, that Martire has the reputation of never having seen a tax hike he didn’t like, or at least one that couldn't be modified to his liking.

In light of the composition of his board, Martire’s hostility to school vouchers-school choice is also no surprise. Groups like the AFL-CIO and the IFT see the concept of competition as anathema to their members. Economics, of course, sees competition as the patron saint of the Consumer. Two very different views of the world, notwithstanding Martire's attempt to cite from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

Although Martire claims, on tonight’s show, not to be necessarily negative on charter schools, it seems that one would be hard pressed to find instances in which he has extolled their virtues. Again, most of Martire’s Board do not appear to be charter school boosters.

None of the above is to suggest that Martire has changed his views to accommodate his Board. It is more likely that the Board members and the organizations from which they come are attracted to Martire because of his views. On the other hand, although calling the CTBA non-partisan may fit within the legal requirements, in light of the above, it would appear to be a misleading adjective to use to describe the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at