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AltAusterity Digest #91 March 21-27, 2019

This week in Austerity News:

Mar 29, 2019

Post-secondary workers at the University of California joined the Red for Ed strike-wave on March 20th to protest austerity and privatization measures in the education sector. The one-day action undertaken by researchers, technical employees, security guard and delivery-truck personnel, totaled nearly 40,000 workers. Workers at the University of California have been facing attacks similar to those seen across the post-secondary sector including pension cuts, salary adjustments that have failed to keep up with cost of living increases, a proliferation of part-time positions, and the constant threat of outsourcing. Several other unions also joined in solidarity actions and in the morning, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joined the picket line.

Caroline Lucas, the British Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion is joining with Labour MP Clive Lewis to table a Green New Deal bill in the UK. In an opinion piece for The Guardian, Lucas outlines the urgent and radical actions needed to combat imminent climate catastrophe. Included in her proposal is using a jobs guarantee to tackle austerity and its legacy in the UK. The guarantee would see the expansion of employment in areas such as clean energy, public transportation, sustainable farming and restoring natural ecosystems. Lucas also calls for greater market regulation and for the monetary and financial systems to be placed back under democratic control.

Portugal is close to achieving a balanced budget after years of austerity. At the height of the Eurozone crisis in 2010, Portugal’s budget deficit reached 11% of GDP and EU/IMF imposed restructuring imposed tax increases and cuts to social expenditure and wages. However, under the current socialist government the country has rebounded in large part due to increasing tax income and government revenues. Last year fiscal revenues grew by 6.3% and public spending increases 4.4%. According to the Portuguese National Statistics Institute (NSE), the 2018 deficit of 0.5% of GDP was one of the smallest budget shortfalls in the euro zone.

The federal NDP has announced that its fiscal plan for the fall election will be shaped by estimates of how much money Ottawa loses to international tax avoidance each year. According to one estimate a tax gap of over $40 billion may exist in Canada, representing the difference between what should be collected and what is actually acquired in government tax revenues. The NDP has therefore promised to clamp down on tax avoidance, tax loopholes and offshore tax havens. Despite the significant increases to government revenues that closing the tax gap would bring, the NDP have so far failed to say whether they will be seeking balanced budgets again, as they did in the 2015 election.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation.