On The Move
This quarter, we have seen how the power of people can secure safety net programs, expand child care support, and fight back against inhumane immigration policies; including the removal of the citizenship question from the national census. Across the country, states have always been the laboratories for American democracy. And we believe that by testing the multitude of policy possibilities in states that we learn what’s possible on the federal level and how to grow power from the ground up.
Securing the Safety Net & Income Support in Maine & Colorado:
As the gap between the wealthy few and the rest of America has widened, progressives have increasingly turned to income support policies that level the playing field, especially in local communities. At the forefront of that conversation is expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, a benefit for working people with low to moderate incomes. Our Safety Net partners, Maine People’s Alliance, New Mainers Alliance, Maine Community Integration, and New Mainers Public Health Initiative, have successfully expanded Maine’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by executing a strategy to attend public hearings, coordinating demonstrations, and engaging the local media. In addition, the Maine People’s Alliance mobilized 50 business owners from 28 Maine towns to share their support in videos on social media and procured a bipartisan op-ed in the Bangor Daily News by Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Eloise Vitelli (D) and House Assistant Minority Leader Trey Stewart (R).
In Colorado, a Local Wage Option was signed into legislation that will allow cities and counties the authority to increase the minimum wage by $1.75 each year starting in January 2020. This historic victory makes Colorado the first state to repeal a statewide ban on raising wages at the local level. After years of organizing and hard work by the “Work Here, Thrive Here” coalition, which includes Community Change partners Colorado People’s Alliance and United for a New Economy, community members are successfully impacting the discussion about the economic pressures of high rents and low wages in the Colorado state economy.
Expanding Childcare in California & Washington DC:
As child care policy proposals gain steam with presidential candidates, we have also seen big investments in childcare and early learning due to the power of parents organizing. Community Change child care partner, Parent Voices led an important victory for child care in California with the inclusion of the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care bill in the two-year state budget. This addition will provide uninterrupted child care for low-income families across the state and adds $80 million dollars in child care funding in the California state budget. The governor’s announcement proceeded Parent Voices’ Stand for Children Day at the State Capitol in Sacramento on May 8th, an annual lobbying event that demonstrates the power of the parents and the community.
Across the country in Washington, D.C., the wins continue for child care. Mayor Muriel Bowser and city council members approved $16 million dollars as an investment for the Birth to Three for All Act, which focuses on the critical development of children in the first three years of life. The act provides fully-funded child care services for low-income families. Community Change child care partner SPACES in Action played a pivotal role, raising the voices of impacted families and calling for fair funding for the program. They attended budget meetings, offered community members leadership training that emphasizes advocacy and the city budget process, and placed a series of op-eds showcasing the reality of child care in DC.
We Count. The Demise of the Citizenship Question.
In the face of continuous attacks by the Trump administration, our Community Change and Fair Immigration Reform Movement partners have coordinated thoughtful strategies to demonstrate that our immigrant communities count. After the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s argument to add the citizenship question to the 2020 census, we celebrated for immigrant communities everywhere and recognized that it was yet another move in a long line of attacks against immigrants and their families. After they officially removed the question and sent the national census forms to print, FIRM released a statement that called on the immigrant rights movement to double our efforts to count our communities. This victory is a result of our partners’ strong and unified presence at rallies and press conferences, on task forces and press calls, in petitions and letters – to say WE WILL BE COUNTED, and we were heard!
Reminding us of the stakes of our fight, Community Change’s Sulma Arias, Interim Director of Immigrant Rights and FIRM Spokesperson, wrote that we all have a duty to stand by immigrant families in a piece published in the Latino Rebels. She wrote about the psychological toll that immigrant families bear in America and how each one of us has to take a stand to protect all families. Last week, immigrant advocates continued to raise their voices by joining the Lights of Liberty, more than 600 vigils on five continents to protest detention centers and anti-immigrant policies. Our FIRM and Community Change partners including Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Make The Road, Maine’s People Alliance, and One America participated in the moving rallies.