Illinois Trust Act Becomes Law


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


Governor’s $15 Veto Will Hold Back Economy and Increase Economic Inequality in Illinois


Chicago, IL – On Friday, Governor Rauner vetoed SB 81, which would have gradually raised the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. Grassroots Collaborative is a labor-community coalition representing tens of thousands of Illinois low-income families whose lives and communities would have greatly benefited from the passage of SB 81. The following is a statement from Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative.

“Governor Rauner showed his true allegiances by protecting his wealthy friends at the expense of Illinois working families. By vetoing the bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, Rauner denies a desperately needed raise to 40% of all Illinois workers – 46% of all female workers in Illinois, 48% of African American workers, and 61% of all Latino workers. After cutting funding to communities across the state by not passing a budget for two years, Rauner’s veto further devastates these 2.3 million Illinois workers. Bruce Rauner cares only about corporate CEOs and their lobbyists – and millions of workers will be the ones who pay the price.”


Illinois People’s Agenda Training Toolkit


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


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.”



People’s Agenda Update


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.


IL Senate Passes Hedge Fund Tax to Close Loophole


Illinois Department of Revenue Estimates SB 1719 Would Raise $1.7 Billion for State in First 12 Months

Chicago, IL – On Tuesday, May 23rd, the Illinois Senate voted 34-24-1 in favor of passing SB 1719. The legislation places a privilege tax on Hedge Fund and Private Equity Managers like Bruce Rauner and Ken Griffin who exploit a federal tax loophole to get a lower tax rate than that paid by many working Americans.  

Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative, explained, “This is great news for Illinois residents that have been languishing under an extended budget impasse. Illinois needs new revenue. SB 1719 generates significant revenue – raising it from  those who have profited for years off of a rigged tax system, instead of asking for more sacrifices from our most vulnerable residents.”   

“This is an important step in creating the kind of state we want to live in,” stated Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), lead sponsor of SB 1719. “We have a small group of very wealthy individuals using an archaic loophole to avoid paying their share, at the expense of other taxpayers and vital social services. Illinois now has an opportunity to right this wrong, to move towards greater fairness, and raise $1.7 billion in new annual revenue that our state desperately needs.”

Representative Welch (D-Hillside), lead sponsor of the legislation in the Illinois House added, “I believe that to those whom much is given much is required- and so far Illinois Hedge Funds have given very little and taken an awful lot. At a time when our seniors are being asked to go without, our public universities are at risk, and shelters are being shut down we can not afford to wait. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in the House to quickly pass this legislation and get it on the Governor’s desk.”

“The people that make the most of this loophole will not change their line of work if it is eliminated. They make plenty of money with or without it, and the tax advantage that they receive due to this rule is not the reason they are in it. They are in the business because they make a ton of money doing it. And that is OK. But the absurd advantage they receive due to this rule is just that; absurd! So simply change the law so that it treats them the same way that John Q Public is treated…or myself, I might add, who paid in last year at a 38% rate (happily so) on a pretty good number,” concluded Stephen Prince with the Patriotic Millionaires, CEO of Sterling Card Solutions.



IL Senate Passes Illinois Trust Act


On Thursday, the Illinois Trust Act passed out of the Illinois Senate with a  31-21 vote.

From Illinois Patch:

The Illinois Senate passed a bill aimed at encouraging cooperation between undocumented immigrants and state law enforcement agencies while discouraging unwarranted cooperation between federal immigration. The Trust Act, sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), passed 31-21 Thursday and will be taken up by the House this week.

“If someone is going to be detained in Illinois it should be because an actual crime has occurred, not because of how they look, what they believe or what paperwork they may or may not have,” said Cullerton.

The Senate proposal, SB31, would ban the detention of immigrants in local jails by federal authorities without criminal warrants, stop federal agents from arresting people inside state-funded school or health care facilities, and bar any local participating in a federal immigrant or religious registry. The bill would also strengthen legal protections for immigrant victims of crimes.

Read more


Rauner Donors Get Visit From Upset Residents on Tax Evasion Trolley Tour


Community Groups Demand Hedge Fund Managers Profiting From Carried Interest Loophole Pay Fair Share to Help Solve State Budget Crisis


Chicago, IL – On Thursday, community residents being impacted by the school funding crisis and state budget impasse took part in a Tax Evasion Trolley Tour to the homes of Hedge Fund political donors who have profited off of the carried interest loophole at the expense of schools and vital social services.   

The first stop on the trolley tour was the $20 million dollar home of Donald Wilson, founder of DRW Trading Group. Wilson has personally benefited from the carried interest loophole and made significant political contributions to both Governor Rauner and Chicago Mayor Emanuel. Participants were joined by Representative Welch (D-Hillside), lead sponsor of HB 3393, a bill that would generate close to a half billion dollars by placing a privilege tax on people like Wilson.

Joining with community members, Representative Welch hand-delivered a large overdue tax bill to Wilson’s front door.

“It’s okay to own a nice home, everyone dreams of being successful and living a good life. But to those who much is given, much is required. What we are saying is if you have the privilege to live in a $20 million dollar house you should pay your fair share in taxes and that means closing the carried interest loophole,” stated Representative Welch to the energetic crowd.   

Alejandro Sanchez, Safe Passage program coordinator with the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council added, “In our community, shootings have increased by 300% between 2013 and 2016. I have a question for Don Wilson and others like him who are profiting off of this loophole. Do you think that skimping on your tax bill is worth students in Brighton Park losing their after-school programs and guidance counselors, or domestic violence centers being closed, or more young people dead because of massive disinvestment in anti-violence programs?”

Participants left sidewalk messages outside Wilson’s home, citing the devastation caused by the state’s lack of sufficient revenue. In addition to visiting Donald Wilson, the Tax Evasion Trolley Tour went to the homes of Sam Zell, Ken Griffin, and Dmitry Balyasny, all deep-pocketed political donors who have capitalized on a rigged tax system resulting in the current school and state funding crisis.

“The impacts on our communities are real – increasing violence, students forced to stop their college educations, seniors going without home care and needed programs like meals on meals, immigrant families losing programs that assist them, and the prospect of our schools being closed 3 weeks early, due to lack of revenue. We organized this tour because these impacts feel real to us, but standing here in front of multi-million dollar mansions, it’s hard to imagine they feel real to these Hedge Fund managers. We want them to know that the money they are getting from the carried interest loophole isn’t being pulled from thin air – it is coming from our community programs and schools,” explained Abbie Illenberger, Field Director of Grassroots Collaborative.

Grassroots Collaborative expects HB 3393 to be voted on in the Illinois House next week.

Photos from the Tax Evasion Trolley Tour can be found here:



Illinois Billionaires and Their Lucrative Loophole


Grassroots Collaborative in conjunction with Hedge Clippers released a new report, “Illinois Billionaires and Their Lucrative Loophole: How Illinois Can Raise Billions by Taxing Carried Interest” which examines the hedge fund and private equity managers profiting off of the carried interest tax loophole at the expense of the rest of taxpayers.

View the full report here

“The carried interest loophole allows equity firms and other members of the wealthy elite to lower their federal tax rates below those paid by many working Americans. By using an archaic holdover in the tax code from the days of sailing ships,  money managers classify ‘fees’ from investing other people’s money as ‘carried interest’ to get a tax rate lower than that paid by teachers or childcare providers,” explained Abbie Illenberger, acting Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative.

Take Action: Tell your state legislators to support HB 3393, a privilege tax on those benefiting from the carried interest tax loophole.

The report highlights the small set of high net worth individuals benefiting from the loophole, including: Ken Griffin, Michael Sacks, Bruce Rauner, Sam Zell, John Canning, Jr., Donald Wilson, and Dmitry Balyasny; all of whom have made significant political donations on the state and local level.

Representative Welch (D-Hillside) is the sponsor of legislation in the Illinois House that would recover revenue being lost due to the loophole.
“Our state desperately needs new revenue. As the Chair of the Higher Education Committee, I see how painful and devastating the budget impasse and lack of funding are to our students. I introduced HB 3393, a bill which will place a “privilege tax” on a small group of very wealthy money managers because the carried interest loophole is unjust and unfair. HB 3393 would generate at least $473 million each year in new revenue for the state according to conservative estimates. That’s a half a billion dollars in revenue our state needs,” stated Representative Welch.

“This report shows just how much this loophole is costing us,” added State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) chief Senate sponsor of the measure. “Hedge fund billionaires have rigged the federal tax system in their favor with the corrupt carried interest loophole. Since the Trump administration and Republican Congress aren’t willing to solve this problem, it’s time for us to fix it on the state level. Instead of taking advantage of a tilted playing field, these billionaires should be contributing their share to make our state government work.”

View the full report here



TRUST Act Passes Senate Executive Committee


From the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:

The Illinois Senate Executive Committee took an important step today toward making our state safer for immigrants and their families. The TRUST Act (SB-31J), filed by Senate President Cullerton, passed through the committee with 11 members voting in favor, five voting present, and no opposing votes. The bill creates a bright line between local police and federal immigration agents, and sends a message to Illinois’ immigrant residents that seeking police assistance will not result in their deportation.

The bill is a rebuke to the Trump administration’s xenophobic federal immigration policies that waste local law enforcement resources and create distrust between communities and local police. Representatives from immigrant, refugee, labor and domestic violence organizations spoke at the noon hearing today on key issues in the bill, which is slated to have a full senate vote within the week.

The TRUST Act’s main provisions will:

Bar federal immigration agents from schools and health facilities if they do not have a warrant,
Bar local law enforcement from engaging in immigration enforcement without a court-issued warrant,
Assist immigrant crime victims seeking legal protection, and Bar local participation in a federal registry based on country of origin or religion.
“This is a major step forward for our coalition leaders, who have worked tirelessly on our Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois.” said Lawrence Benito, chief executive officer at Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, one of the lead sponsors of the TRUST Act. “There is an immediate need for our elected officials to listen to our leaders and take action at the state level to keep communities safe and protected from these vicious threats and attacks on our rights.”
“We must all work together to help make our communities safer for everyone,” said Trisha Teofilo Olave, senior legal supervisor at Chicago’s National Immigrant Justice Center. “The TRUST Act would standardize the U visa certification process to create consistency for immigrant victims of crime and demystify the process for law enforcement agencies. It would help law enforcement comply with federal law, while also enhancing community trust and public safety.”

“Our communities are living in fear and facing threats to their livelihoods every day,” said Andy Kang, legal director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago. “Illinois has the potential to be the most welcoming state for immigrants and refugees. Passing the TRUST Act would be a move in the direction of protecting our communities, and making sure they are safe.”
The bill is expected to reach the Senate floor soon. A broad coalition of community organizations are planning actions and scheduling in-district meetings during the upcoming spring legislative recess, to ensure the Illinois TRUST Act is passed through both the Illinois senate and the house this spring.