Following Trump’s Lead, Rauner Protects Wealthy Money Managers in Budget Address

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On Wednesday, Governor Rauner delivered his fourth budget address which was long on rhetoric, but short on solutions. The following is a statement from Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative.

“Today, Governor Rauner again failed to present a budget proposal that would lead Illinois towards stability and prosperity for all. Instead, he proposed that Illinois workers give up more, and invited Illinois taxpayers to play a shell game, one with very serious consequences for our communities, our children, and our state. Just like Trump’s grand infrastructure plan that places the huge burden of payment on local communities, Gov. Rauner’s claims of new investments in education amount to nothing more than forcing new financial burdens on local school districts.

As our state struggles to recover from the damage done by the budget impasse and address the $8.4 billion unpaid bill backlog, our state needs bold leadership. Governor Rauner could have followed the example set by New York’s Governor Cuomo. Facing significant budget challenges, and in anticipation of the fall out that will come from the Federal Tax overhaul, Cuomo presented a budget address that called for new sources of progressive revenue, including one proposal that closes the outrageous carried interest loophole – a proposal that would raise $1 billion annually in Illinois. Governor Rauner, once again demonstrated that he is unwilling to make the hard choice to pass legislation that will ask his peers, including wealthy money managers, to pay their fair share. He is unwilling to bring Illinois in line with our neighboring states, by supporting a graduated income tax.

Today, on Valentine’s Day, Governor Rauner showed no love for the diverse communities that Grassroots Collaborative represents. From Peoria to the West side of Chicago, today’s budget address offered little more than another disappointing example of failed leadership.”

Headshot of Chama St Louis

We Are Growing – Peoria People’s Project Launches New Phase

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Exciting news! We are expanding.

It is no secret that Trump and Rauner are trying to divide our communities – pitting Chicago against the rest of the state, parents against teachers, and neighbor against neighbor. They want to keep our attention on our differences instead of the struggles that we all share. That’s why the work of Grassroots Collaborative to bring communities together is more important than ever before.

We can’t win by building an island in a sea of rising conservatism. To win against Trump and Rauner, we need to invest in progressive movement-building across the state. We know we are stronger when we fight together which is why we are proud to announce the next step of the Peoria People’s Project.

Our initiative will bring together residents in central Illinois, connecting union members with social service agencies and community organizations, so together we can work on the issues that are impacting all of us. After months of planning and strategizing, we’ve hired a new central Illinois organizer, Chama St.Louis, who is already hard at work moving the project forward!

Chama Graphic

We want you to hear more about the great work that Chama has planned in central Illinois and invite you to join us for a Facebook Live chat on February 9th @ Noon. On the chat you will get to hear directly from Chama about the problems that residents in Peoria are facing including racial housing segregation, disinvestment in public schools, and rising economic inequality. We have much more in common than we know.

Click here for more info on joining the Facebook Live Chat on February 9th at Noon.

Will you help take back Illinois, one city at a time? A donation of $15, $25, or $50 will go directly towards supporting the critical community organizing happening on the ground in Peoria right now. And thanks to the Marguerite Casey Foundation, all new donations will be matched dollar for dollar, having double the impact! Your support will enable us to reach thousands of new Peoria residents this year, building our movement for racial and economic justice across Illinois. But we can’t do it without you- our most committed grassroots supporters. Donate today!

llinois Must Pursue State Level Solutions to Counteract Failures in GOP Tax Bill

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Grassroots Leaders and State Legislators Push to Close Carried Interest Loophole in Illinois Following Passage of GOP Tax Bill

Chicago, IL – As Congress continues to pass legislation and policy that is out of line with the values of the American people, states and cities have jumped in to take action to protect their residents, including city and state action around climate change, net neutrality, and sanctuary status. Now that the GOP has passed its tax bill, it is imperative that Illinois take action to protect our residents by passing legislation to close the egregious carried interest loophole at the state level, generating over $1 billion in new revenue in the first year.

The GOP Tax Bill is especially dangerous to states like Illinois, which has already been destabilized by years of budget crisis and whose communities will be further hurt by changes to state and local tax exemptions. State lawmakers must take action to avoid increased taxes and cuts to local services for working families living in our state. 

State Representative Emanuel Chris Welch (D-HIllside) explained, “The Republicans in Congress have just given the 1% an early Christmas present.  They have chosen to vote for a huge tax break for the wealthy donors to their PACs, instead of protecting the families living in their districts.  We cannot afford to repeat that same mistake here in Illinois. We need to act now and pass legislation that requires the wealthy hedge fund managers who exploit the carried interest loophole to pay their fair share.”

The carried interest loophole is a federal tax loophole that benefits a small, but very wealthy and well-connected group of hedge fund and private equity billionaires. The loophole allows wealthy investors to declare their income as carried interest to receive a lower effective tax rate than kindergarten teachers or truck drivers. Although Trump used the carried interest on the campaign trail as an example of a rigged economic system and promised to close it the GOP tax bill fails to close the loophole.  

Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative, added, “Legislation to close the carried interest loophole (SB 1719) passed the Illinois Senate last year but didn’t make it to the Governor’s desk, as some legislators wanted to wait for the federal government to act instead. The GOP’s tax bill makes it clear that Trump flat-out lied to the American people when he promised to close the carried interest loophole. It is time for Illinois to step up and take action to close the loophole ourselves. We can’t afford to wait.”   

 

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Grassroots Collaborative Response to Mayor Emanuel’s Budget Address

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Chicago, IL – The following is a statement from Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative on Mayor Emanuel’s budget address.

“Today’s budget address shows Mayor Emanuel’s continued commitment to policies that have failed Chicago’s families as he continues to prioritize the interests of city elites over those of working families. The Mayor has continued to raise taxes and fees on everyone and everything with the exception of wealthy individuals and corporations. Instead of pursuing regressive revenue fees that further hurt our city’s working families, the Mayor should be implementing revenue solutions such as reinvesting the TIF Surplus funds and reinstating the corporate head tax.

Rideshare and amusement taxes will not fix our city, neither will doling out taxpayer money to try and woo Amazon. Our city needs to reinvest in schools and Black and Brown neighborhoods. Failure to do so will result in more violence and more residents being pushed out of the city.”

Illinois Trust Act Becomes Law

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On Monday, the Illinois Trust Act, a bill to create better relations between the immigrant and law enforcement became law. It is refreshing to see a bill that benefits Illinois being passed without the need for a veto override. Congratulations to the campaign for a #WelcomingIL and everybody who went down to fight for this bill with us as part of the Illinois People’s Agenda.

From NBC Chicago:

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law Monday a measure to prevent law enforcement officials across the state from detaining individuals based solely on their immigration status, and limit local agencies’ cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

The governor signed Senate Bill 31, known as the Illinois TRUST Act, in front of a crowd at the Mi Tierra restaurant in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood.

“Illinois has been welcoming of immigrants for a long time, and this bill will continue that tradition,” Rauner said in a statement. “It also makes clear that stopping violent crime will be law enforcement’s mission rather than working on federal prerogatives that a federal court has found illegal.”

 The General Assembly passed the bill in May, sending it to the Republican governor’s desk the following month. After spending nearly two months deciding what to do with it, Rauner first indicated during a radio interview earlier this month that he would support the bill, saying he thought “it seems very reasonable.”

The measure will prohibit police officers and other law enforcement officials from stopping, detaining, or arresting anyone based solely on their immigration status or an immigration detainer – effectively limiting the role of local authorities in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Nothing in the bill – which was scaled back from its original form through negotiations involving advocacy groups, law enforcement, businesses and other stakeholders – prohibits agencies from communicating with immigration authorities, and local authorities can hold individuals if presented with a criminal warrant. The bill also includes a provision to require law enforcement agencies to provide officers with guidance on complying with the law.

“Immigrants in our community should not have to feel unsafe when they go to work or take their children to school,” the bill’s primary House sponsor, state Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside), said in a statement. “This legislation will ensure that proper legal procedures are being followed and provide peace of mind to members of our community.”

Read more here

 

Illinois People’s Agenda Training Toolkit

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Illinois People’s Agenda Training Toolkit

We believe the only way we will fix our state and win the communities we want to live in is by coming together to share our experiences, educating ourselves and each other. Below are toolkits you can use to host your own training with your organization, friends, or family.

Have questions? Would you like to request Grassroots Collaborative support in hosting your training? Want to tell us how it went? Click here to drop us a line.

Mythbusting Toolkit – To educate participants on the truth behind common myths about the Illinois Economy utilizing the Human Spectrogram exercise, which is often used to discover similarities and differences within a group and get a spectrum of comments on an issue. (download) Illinois Budget Mythbusting Fact Sheet.

Storytelling Toolkit – To help tell our own stories in powerful ways, connect with others in the movement Identify sources of support and empowerment within each other. Identify common challenges in our stories that we find ways around blocks to sustain our activism. (download)

Penny Budget Toolkit – To demonstrate to participants the need for additional state revenue and encourage them to think creatively about what a budget that reflects their values would look like. (download) (sample IL Budget Sheet).  Toolkit adapted from Penny Budget exercise developed by AFSC.

People’s Agenda Writeup – Information handout. Description of the People’s Agenda and the 2017 legislative platform. (download)

 

Finally. Statement on Override of Governor Rauner’s Budget Veto

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Chicago, IL – Today, the Illinois House joined the Senate in overriding Governor Rauner’s veto of the state budget giving the state its first budget in years. The following is a statement from Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative.

“Finally, state legislators have pushed aside Rauner’s obstructionism to pass a state budget. Community residents have been fighting for years for a fully funded budget and are clear that this is not enough. The budget provides insufficient funding for critical services and asks Illinois families to foot the bill instead of demanding the wealthy pay their fair share by implementing progressive revenue solutions such as closing the carried interest loophole or a financial transaction tax. But it is a budget and it is progress.

At the same time we recognize this step forward, we deplore the lives and livelihoods lost as a result of it taking so long to get to this point. We mourn for every breast cancer screening that came too late, for the jobs lost across the state, and for every resident denied the help they needed as result of this tragic and unnecessary crisis.

Grassroots Collaborative thanks the tens of thousands of Illinois residents who worked to make their voices heard by writing letters, making phone calls, and visiting legislators. We remain committed to fighting for a People’s Agenda that puts the interests of the people of Illinois over those of deep-pocketed political donors.”

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Grassroots Collaborative is Hiring

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We are excited to announce that Grassroots Collaborative is hiring for 2 positions. We are eager to fill these positions as soon as possible, and appreciate your help spreading the word!

Grassroots Collaborative is an equal-opportunity employer.  People of color strongly encouraged to apply.  For consideration, send a resume, cover letter, and three references to hiring@thegrassrootscollaborative.org.  No calls, please.  Position open until filled.

Chicago-based Campaigns Organizer: We are seeking an energetic organizer to help lead our People’s Agenda Campaign work in Chicago. We are developing exciting plans for the summer and d fall, and are looking for a qualified candidate who is excited to fight against Rauner’s anti-working family agenda and for a bold new agenda that will make Illinois a state where all of our communities can thrive.

Read Job Description

TITLE: Organizer – People’s Agenda Campaign

SUPERVISED BY: Field Director

SUPERVISES: some supervisory responsibility over interns

SALARY/HOURLY, EXEMPT OR NONEXEMPT: Salaried, Exempt, Full-time position

ORGANIZATIONAL SUMMARY: Grassroots Collaborative (501c3) builds power with working families through strategic community-labor organizing, grassroots leadership development, civic engagement, and research. We organize to win progressive policies and systems-change that improve the lives of low-to-moderate income residents and communities of color. We utilize popular education to build consciousness, and build organization that unites residents to create transformative change for a more just society. Our affiliated 501c4, Grassroots Illinois Action, works to build community political power through issue advocacy and electoral strategies.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Grassroots Collaborative engages in campaigns to make corporations, big banks, and the rich pay their fair share.  Currently, our member organizations are facing the combined threat of public financial crises on three levels – Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, and Illinois.  As part of a larger strategy to win revenue for the programs, schools, and services our communities deserve, we have launched the People’s Agenda campaign.  Combining legislative, communications and organizing strategies this campaign advances bold demands for major investments in our communities and taxes on the wealthy and large corporations to pay for those investments.  

POSITION SUMMARY: We are seeking an experienced community, labor or coalition organizer with campaign experience.  The campaign organizer will help develop campaign strategy, coordinate campaign activity among our member organizations, conduct popular education sessions and lead public actions to grow public awareness of our campaign and build pressure on our targets to adopt the People’s Agenda demands.  The organizer is responsible for leading a field campaign this summer among members and allies to engage voters to win adoption of recently passed legislation, as well as growing the coalition supporting the People’s Agenda beyond the summer work.  This position calls for a person with bold ideas, tactical creativity, and a commitment to developing long-term strategies that generate intermediate wins.  We are looking for a strong team player, who can also work independently.  The ideal candidate will have an ability to identify strategic opportunities as well as have a deep commitment to movement-building.

Job Responsibilities:

  • Coalition Building – Identify and recruit new People’s Agenda endorsers.  Maintain communication with coalition partners and engage them in digital, legislative and street actions.

  • Political Education & Leadership Development– Conduct workshops and presentations that educate our member organizations about the origins of our fiscal crises and prepare members to lead elements of the People’s Agenda campaign.  
  • Communications – Work with the Communications Director to create and amplify a public narrative about the need to curb the power of the finance sector, and for the wealthy to pay their fair share.
  • Direct Action – Develop and execute a variety of member-led actions that move our campaign objectives forward.

  • Legislative – Implement grassroots lobbying strategies to educate legislators about the People’s Agenda platform and to move them to support our policy solutions.

  • Other roles: Participate in Grassroots Collaborative staff team and other organization-wide meetings and activities.  Additional roles and responsibilities as assigned.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • At least 2 years full-time labor, community or constituency organizing experience
  • Strong organizational, leadership, and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to motivate and inspire others
  • Willingness to work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends, and travel to Springfield
  • An energetic commitment to social justice and working within an anti-oppression framework
  • Experience with corporate campaigns, interest in Wall Street accountability a plus
  • Coalition building and coordination skills
  • Excellent verbal communication and writing skills.  Ability to communicate effectively with staff and grassroots leaders
  • Spanish language skills are a plus
  • Proficient in Excel, Powerpoint, Word
  • Excellent team player, able to meet deadlines and work independently, innovative, creative

Work Environment:  

  • This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, scanners, filing cabinets, and fax machines 
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear. The employee frequently is required to stand; walk; use hands to finger, handle or feel; and reach with hands and arms. The employee must frequently lift and/or move objects up to 25 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move objects up to 40 pounds 
  • Some travel in the Chicago metro area is required, along with Springfield 
  • Workplace is a smoke-and drug-free environment

Grassroots Collaborative is an equal-opportunity employer.  People of color strongly encouraged to apply.  For consideration, send a resume, cover letter, and three references to hiring@thegrassrootscollaborative.org.  No calls, please.  Position open until filled.

People’s Agenda Campaign Organizer

Coalition Organizer (Central Illinois): We are working with partners to launch new coalition work in cities outside of Chicago. We will begin this summer in Peoria. We are looking to hire a coalition organizer based in Central Illinois (or someone willing to travel regularly), with solid labor and/or community organizing experience.

Read Job Description

TITLE: Coalition Organizer

SUPERVISED BY: Field Director

SUPERVISES: some supervisory responsibility over interns

SALARY/HOURLY, EXEMPT OR NONEXEMPT: Salaried, Exempt, Full-time position

ORGANIZATIONAL SUMMARY: Grassroots Collaborative (501c3) unites 11 member organization to build power with working families through strategic community-labor organizing, grassroots leadership development, civic engagement, and research. We organize to win progressive policies and systems-change that improve the lives of low-to-moderate income residents and communities of color. We utilize popular education to build consciousness, and build organization that unites residents to create transformative change for a more just society. Our affiliated 501c4, Grassroots Illinois Action, works to build community political power through issue advocacy and electoral strategies.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Grassroots Collaborative engages in campaigns to make corporations, big banks, and the rich pay their fair share.  Our member organizations are facing the combined impact of public financial crises (state budget impasse) and decades of disinvestment from communities of color.  As part of a larger strategy to win revenue for the programs, schools, and services our communities deserve, we have launched the People’s Agenda campaign.  Combining legislative, communications and organizing strategies this campaign advances bold demands for major investments in our communities and taxes on the wealthy and large corporations to pay for those investments.   In the summer of 2017 we are launching an initiative to begin building labor-community alliances in 3-4 Illinois cities, to grow the power of working families and communities of color beyond Chicago and across the state.

POSITION SUMMARY:  We are seeking an experienced community or labor organizer, either based in Central Illinois, or able to travel and spend 3-4 days/week in Peoria and additional communities.  The organizer will work closely with Grassroots Collaborative member organizations in those geographies, and ally organizations as well, to engage grassroots leaders in the People’s Agenda Campaign and other local issues that are identified by those leaders.  The organizer will work with our partners to launch a pilot project in Peoria, and will start organizing in a 2nd geography in the fall of 2017.  The organizer will help recruit and develop coalition partners, contribute to campaign strategy, communicate with and motivate existing and potential members, assist in legislative efforts, educate and mobilize low information voters, conduct popular education sessions, and lead public actions. The ideal candidate will be reliable, engaging, and hold a deep commitment to leadership development and empowerment.

Job Responsibilities:

  • Coalition Building – Identify and recruit new People’s Agenda endorsers and local organizations that want to work together in a labor-community coalition  Maintain communication with partners and engage them in digital, legislative and street actions.
  • Political Education & Leadership Development– Conduct workshops and presentations that educate union members and grassroots leaders about the origins of our fiscal crises and prepare members to lead elements of the People’s Agenda campaign. 
  • Communications – Work with the Communications Director to create and amplify a locally appropriate public narrative about the need to curb the power of the finance sector, and for the wealthy to pay their fair share. 
  • Direct Action – In collaboration with our partners, develop and execute a variety of member-led actions that move our campaign objectives forward.
  • Legislative – Implement grassroots lobbying strategies to educate legislators about the People’s Agenda platform and to move them to support our policy solutions.  
  • Other roles: Participate in Grassroots Collaborative staff team and other organization-wide meetings and activities.  Additional roles and responsibilities as assigned.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • A minimum of 2 years full-time labor, community or constituency organizing experience
  • Strong organizational, leadership, and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to motivate and inspire others
  • Willingness to work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends, and travel
  • An energetic commitment to social justice and working within an anti-oppression framework
  • Coalition building and coordination skills
  • Excellent verbal communication and writing skills.  Ability to communicate effectively with staff and grassroots leaders
  • Demonstrated ability to lead direct actions and events
  • Spanish language skills are a plus
  • Proficient in Excel, Powerpoint, Word
  • Excellent team player, able to meet deadlines and work independently, innovative, creative
  • Valid Driver’s License

Work Environment:  

This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, scanners, filing cabinets, and fax machines.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear. The employee frequently is required to stand; walk; use hands to finger, handle or feel; and reach with hands and arms. The employee must frequently lift and/or move objects up to 25 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move objects up to 40 pounds
  • Travel within Central Illinois, between Central Illinois and Chicago is required. Occasionally, some out-of-the-area travel may be expected 
  • Workplace is a smoke-and drug-free environment

Grassroots Collaborative is an equal-opportunity employer.  People of color strongly encouraged to apply.  For consideration, send a resume, cover letter, and three references to hiring@thegrassrootscollaborative.org.  No calls, please.  Position open until filled.

Central Illinois Coalition Organizer

People’s Agenda Update

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Springfield ended their regular legislative session – once again without a budget in place. But instead of packing up and going home for the summer, they are going into overtime. This means that there is still time to win the fully-funded budget that our communities deserve.

But that’s not all we’ll be fighting for. In the last few weeks of the regular session Grassroots Collaborative, working with our partners and allies, moved forward some key pieces of the Illinois People’s Agenda platform.

Click here to send a quick thank you to the legislators who helped champion the Illinois People’s Agenda this legislative session.

$15 Minimum Wage SB 81 (Senator Hutchinson/ Rep. Guzzardi) –

Legislation to raise the state minimum wage to $15/hr passed out of the Illinois House and Senate and is now headed to the Governor’s desk.


Illinois Trust Act SB 31 (President Cullerton /Rep. Hernandez /Rep. Welch) –

Legislation to provide protection for Illinois immigrant communities passed out of both the Illinois House and Senate and is headed to the Governor’s desk. 


Elected Representative School Board HB 1774 (Rep. Martwick/Sen. Raoul) –

Legislation to give control of the Chicago school board back to the people of Chicago passed out of the House and Senate. After one more vote in the House (on an amendment) it will be headed to the Governor’s desk.


Closing the Carried Interest Tax Loophole SB 1719 (Rep. Welch/Sen. Biss) –

Legislation that will close the expensive carried interest tax loophole in Illinois passed out of the Senate and is currently being considered as a revenue option in the House budget negotiations. 


Restoring Childcare Assistance for Low-Income Students HB 3213 (Rep. Wallace/Sen. Aquino/Sen. Biss)

Legislation to restore the cuts made to the child care assistance program passed out of the House and Senate and is headed to the Governor’s desk. 


Payment Prioritization HB 3871 (Rep. Martwick) –

Legislation to prioritize paying for human services and education before Wall Street banks passed out of the House executive committee. Bill has been granted an extension to June 30th to be passed. 


TIF Money for School Wrap-Around Services HB 3720 (Rep. Harper) –

Legislation creates parameters for TIF surpluses and mandates that money is used for school-based social services like social workers and school nurses, and special education services. Bill passed the Illinois House and will be taken up in the Senate in the future.  


During this overtime session we will be asking you to contact your legislators and Governor Rauner at key points to make sure that this legislation gets over the finish line. But before we do that we want to ask you to take a moment to thank our champions in the legislature who helped us get to this point.

Click here to send a message thanking the sponsors of People’s Agenda legislation.

And THANK YOU for everything you have done to move the People’s Agenda platform forward. I look forward to fighting alongside you in the months to come.

Together we will win the state we deserve.

Action Alert: #Closetheloophole

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