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This brief builds on Streets to Statehouse: Building Grassroots Power in New York, a report released jointly by North Star Fund and New York Foundation in 2020. Streets to Statehouse documents the crucial role of grassroots organizing in achieving progressive policy wins in New York and sowing a more inclusive and responsive democracy. The report calls on funders to resource these movements more deeply to ensure we build upon the progress that has been made. This brief serves as a companion to Streets to Statehouse and lifts up the ways in which grassroots organizing is building electoral power by engaging new constituencies and seeding a new cadre of progressive elected leaders.
This report shares the lessons learned from two 2019 statewide campaigns that were led by grassroots organizations working in coalition with broader policy and advocacy networks. Housing Justice for All and Green Light NY won significant changes for low-income renters and driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, respectively. The campaigns challenged the model of traditional top-down advocacy by centering directly-impacted people from low-income communities of color in leadership and decisionmaking. Both campaigns also demonstrated that community power can be leveraged between grassroots electoral organizing and issue-based legislative campaigns. Finally, by centering member-led organizations from rural, suburban and urban communities, the campaigns demonstrated how progressive policy changes require long-term investment in groups that build people power across regional difference through shared mass mobilization strategies.
Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It enables taxpayers to work with government to make the budget decisions that affect their lives. PB has been used for cities, counties, states, schools, universities, housing authorities, and other agencies.
Putting America's workers front and center on the federal policy agenda requires that we get serious about the urgent jobs crisis facing the nation. Simply put, we do not have enough jobs for all who want and need to work, and increasingly, our jobs do not pay the living wages and provide the benefits needed for a recovery that extends economic security and opportunity to all of America's workers. The jobs crisis is already devastating millions of working families while keeping the economy weak, and unless we intervene now, it promises to reap dividends of despair in the future too.In this document, NELP lays out five straightforward and concrete policy proposals for the first 100 days of the new term -- 100 Days for America's Workers -- that will improve the lives of millions, while giving the economy a sustained boost.
Seizing the Moment: Guide to Adopting State Work-Sharing Legislation After Layoff Prevention Act of 2012December 1, 2012
This report, the second in a series prepared by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Employment Law Project (NELP), is a guide for state administrators, legislators and advocates seeking to implement work sharing. The next section summarizes the opportunities presented by the Layoff Prevention act and lays out the timeline for implementation. The middle section explains in detail the new requirements in federal law and the final section highlights a set of additional provisions designed to protect participants in STC programs, set guidelines for employer participation and ensure strong administration.
This study highlights the significant downside of the introduction of competitive grants into the New York school finance system. It makes a strong case that these grants have actually been substituted for aid programs, such as the Foundation Formula, which distribute school aid based on student need and district wealth. Key FindingsCompetitive grants create a system of educational winners and losers among students, instead the state should be guaranteeing all students access to high quality programs. Competitive grants are inequitable. Only 19 out of 202 high needs school districts even applied for funding through the competitive grants, whereas 100% of them would receive funding had this money been put through the foundation aid formula. While the competitive grants do prioritize high quality educational programs including academically excellent middle schools, college level courses in high school, career and technical education, and increasing the number of students graduating with Regents Diplomas with Advanced Designation, these exact types of programs have been cut from schools statewide as a result of state budget cuts. Test scores are the single largest factor in awarding competitive grants meaning that when students take tests they are competing with each other for access to high quality educational opportunities. Making schools compete for funding based upon test scores will result in more teaching to the test.
A People's Budget: A Research and Evaluation Report on the Pilot Year of Participatory Budgeting in New York CitySeptember 20, 2012
Participatory budgeting (PB) is a new process for capital budgeting in which voters directly decide how to spend millions of their own tax dollars, a first in New York City and only the second such initiative in the United States. The report details findings about who participated, and the impact PB has had on attitudes towards government, civic engagement and leadership skills. The research is based on over 5,000 surveys, 35 interviews and hundreds of observations.
An effective new public matching funds system in which citizens direct the distribution of public funds to candidates would fundamentally change the way our campaigns are financed. The system would decrease the opportunities for corruption of federal officeholders and government decisions, and provide candidates with an alternative means for financing their elections without being obligated to special interest funders. Most importantly, the system would restore citizens to their rightful pre-eminent place in our democracy.
This report examines systemic inequities in the mortgage market, as reflected in neighborhood lending patterns based on race and ethnicity. The authors analyzed 2010 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data, and compared conventional and government-backed prime mortgage lending in seven U.S. cities, based on borrowers' race and ethnicity and the racial and ethnic composition of neighborhoods.The report shows that black and Latino borrowers and borrowers in communities of color received government-backed loans -- insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) -- significantly more often than did white borrowers. The findings indicate persistent mortgage redlining and raise serious concerns about illegal and discriminatory loan steering.
Every New Yorker should understand his or her prescription medication labels and should have safe access to prescription medications. Make the Road New York (MRNY), Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) have championed the issue of safe access to prescription medications in New York State by advocating for the passage of legislation designed to address patient safety. As a result of our efforts, the efforts of Governor Andrew Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT), and the New York State Legislature, pharmacy language access and label standardization legislation (SafeRx) was passed in the New York State Budget in April 2012. This is the first state law of its kind in the United States, propelling New York as a leader in protecting consumers.While enactment of SafeRx has been a tremendous victory, the New York State Board of Pharmacy (SBOP), comprised of pharmacy industry representatives, is tasked with developing regulations to implement SafeRx before it goes into full effect. In response, we are producing this report to make recommendations that balance consumer interests with industry interests and that are based on medical literature and industry best practices. In Part One, our report describes what is required under SafeRx and includes answers to frequently asked questions about SafeRx. In Part Two we discuss our SafeRx recommendations.
The purpose of this current report is to revisit the trust fund crisis of 2010 to answer three hypothetical questions: Could the trust fund solvency crisis have been avoided had all states accumulated the amount of pre-recession trust fund reserves recommended by financing experts?How much did employers need to contribute on a per-employee basis to have ensured adequate pre-recession trust fund reserves?By how much will employer contributions need to increase in the future for state trust funds to prepare for the next recession?The remainder of the paper is structured as follows: Section 1 provides a brief overview of the UI program, the financing of UI benefits, and a history of previous financing crises. Section 2 summarizes the extent of borrowing during the Great Recession and places today's crisis in a historical context. Section 3 compares three generally accepted measures of solvency and shows how only a handful of states met even the least rigorous of the measures going into the recent recession.Sections 4 to 6 apply a basic accounting framework to estimate (1) the number of states that would have borrowed had all states entered the recession with adequate reserves; (2) the amount of employer contributions that would have been necessary following the 2001 recession for all state trust funds to have been prepared for the recent recession; and (3) the amount of new reserves necessary for states to be solvent by the end of 2016. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the UI financing factors that determine a state's capacity to accumulate pre-recession trust fund reserves.
New York State is considering a system of public campaign financing for state elections similar to the one New York City uses for municipal elections. In that system, the city puts up six dollars in public matching funds for each of the first $175 that a city resident contributes to a candidate participating in the voluntary program.One of the key purposes of the city's matching fund program is to strengthen the connections between public officials and their constituents by bringing more small donors into the process and making them more important to the candidates' campaigns. A previous paper by the Campaign Finance Institute showed that matching funds heighten the number and role of small donors in city elections and would be likely to do the same at the state level.This joint study by the Brennan Center for Justice and the Campaign Finance Institute tests whether these powerful but anecdotal claims are supported by the available evidence from the most recent state and municipal elections. To do so, we compared donors to candidates in the City Council elections of 2009, where there was a public financing program, to the donors to candidates in the State Assembly elections of 2010, where there was no such program. We compared the City Council and State Assembly races because those electoral districts are similar in size and because doing so allowed us to look at the giving patterns of the same city residents in different elections.
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