A Budget to #ReimagineChicago for 2020 and Beyond


For the past decade, Chicago has displaced and over-policed Black and Brown families, and starved the city’s working people of the resources they need to live and thrive. Black, Brown and working families overpay through a discriminatory use of fines, fees, and property taxes while corporate developers receive massive handouts for projects that displace residents.

Which is why community and labor organizations have come together with progressive aldermen to release a series of proposals for the 2020 city budget calling for $1.9 billion in new spending, $700 million in divestments, and $4.9 billion in new progressive revenue from requiring the wealthiest and large corporations to pay their fair share.

The proposal comes on the heels of ten aldermen pledging to vote only for a budget that invests in public services, divests from developers and failed policing, and taxes the rich. Working together, aldermen and community groups have prepared concrete proposals, a month before Mayor Lightfoot will deliver her budget address to City Council and are prepared to bargain together to win a budget that serves working families.

Download a A Budget to ReimagineChicago here



Reimagine Chicago Platform


#ReimagineChicago is a progressive platform developed in partnership with neighborhood residents across the city. #ReimagineChicago is an aspirational plan to transform Chicago into a city that works for everybody through targeted community investment, expansion and protection of affordable housing, police accountability, jobs programs, and progressive revenue. The #ReimagineChicago platform can be downloaded here.

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)


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


Illinois People’s Agenda


Counter to the narrative coming out of the Governor’s office, the People’s Agenda points out that the state of Illinois is not spending too much, but rather is spending too little. Illinois has the 5th largest economy in the country and is the 13th wealthiest state, yet ranks 47th in spending on K-12 education, higher education, healthcare, public safety, and human services.

In order to bring Illinois in line with other Midwest states, the People’s Agenda calls for generating new state revenue from those most able to afford it. The People’s Agenda revenue package includes closing corporate loopholes, passing a graduated income tax, millionaire tax, and a financial transaction tax. Together, these revenue proposals would generate billions of dollars for the state of Illinois. The report goes on to give concrete examples of how this new revenue could be spent, such as providing universal Pre-K childcare assistance, reducing violence, and ending homelessness in the state of Illinois.

Downtown Prosperity, Neighborhood Neglect

News Source:

Grassroots Collaborative’s report, Downtown Prosperity, Neighborhood Neglect: Chicago’s Black and Latino Workers Left Behind looks at the racial inequality created by city priorities through exploration of US Census data.

The report lays out a sharp racial disparity in downtown job gains and losses.  From 2002 to 2011, Black majority city zip codes suffered a median loss of 620 downtown jobs per zip code and Latino majority city zip codes suffered a median loss of 381 downtown jobs per code; meanwhile, white majority city zip codes each added a median of 509 downtown jobs during the same period.  Englewood was one of the leading neighborhoods in terms of downtown jobs lost–losing approximately 800 jobs–while Naperville gained over 800 downtown jobs.

Turned Around


A report by the ReFund America project on how the swaps that were supposed to save Illinois millions turned toxic.

Illinois is in the throes of a major budget crisis. Even though residents have had to bear draconian cuts as critical services have been defunded, Wall Street has gotten a free pass in the state’s budget stalemate. More than halfway through the current iscal year (as of January 2016), the Illinois General Assembly has still been unable to pass a budget because Governor Bruce Rauner has refused to make a budget deal until he gets his anti-union “Turnaround Agenda”. As a result, Illinois has delayed, reduced, or ceased funding for critical services, like low-income child care programs, domestic violence services, immigrant family services, need-based college grants, youth programs, and homeless services, to name a few. At the same time that the state has been unwilling to meet its obligations to social service providers, Illinois has nevertheless been paying banks for a whole host of inancial services, like interest rate swaps.