The worst - there was a lot to choose from! You know, 2006 wasn't born with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. This year, Congress tried to tie a modest increase in the minimum wage to a cut in the Estate Tax, otherwise known as the Paris Hilton tax. It was one of the most cynical pieces of legislation I've ever seen. It didn't pass, but legislation to use $21.3 billion in taxpayer dollars to build a fence on the Mexican border that won't do a damned thing to address the real reasons that immigrants come here and stay here, did. The Bush administration made it harder for women on public assistance to count higher education as workfare credits, even though a college education is proven to be the most effective way of moving women on welfare out of poverty permanently. The White House gave nurses "promotions," making the ineligible for union membership (thanks!), while also requiring parents to present proof that their children are United States citizens before qualifying them for Medicaid. And, unfortunately, here in NYC, Mayor Bloomberg continued down a path of making it as difficult as possible for sick Ground Zero heroes - the first responders and clean-up workers - to file claims for lost wages and medical bills, a microcosm of the larger ways in which access to justice is being cut off for millions of injured Americans.

On the positive side, Congress preserved the neutrality of the Net... for now... and began the hard work of closing the donut hole in Medicare Part D, which leaves seniors paying up to $3k out of pocket for prescription drugs when they've exceeded their limit and before their coverage kicks in again. Despite attempts to use the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act as a platform for the English only movement, Congress resisted and protected access to the polls for millions of Americans still learning English. Congress protected America's soldiers from predatory lenders and began the process of trying to protect America's students from outrageous student loan debt. And here in New York City, the City Council passed legislation to allow farmers' markets to accept food stamps, to fund programs that combat obesity, and to expand the free school breakfast plan to include all those who apply, regardless of income bracket.

A lot happened in 2006. The Drum Major Institute produces a Year in Review, including the best and worst of public policy, a recap of what happened on the state level (produced with our partner Progressive States), interviews with eight people who worked to change public policy in 2006, a closer look at what the think tanks of the conservative right were up to over the last year, a netroots recap, a reading list, and, of course, the 2006 Injustice Index.

Check it out, and then 2006 public policy trivia like this won't stump you:

First state in the nation to establish the goal of universally-available public pre-school for all 3 and 4 year olds?

Think tank that believes "Big Tofu" is giving Big Oil and Big Business a run for its money?

Web site that helped drive one in four middle and high school students in Los Angeles to the March 25, 2006 march for immigrant rights?


Here's to a 2007 with public policy that improves our lives, and just enough celebrity births and breakups to entertain us.