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COPS/Metro Calls on San Antonio to Guarantee $20/h for SA Ready to Work Graduates

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[Excerpt]

In 2020, COPS/Metro proposed the concept to city of San Antonio officials of a locally funded workforce development program using redirected existing dedicated taxes, then conducted a massive get-out-the-vote campaign in support. The residents of San Antonio responded with a resounding 77 percent voter approval. With the passage of this initiative, our city officials were given a golden opportunity to change the decades-long economic narrative from that of a low-wage town to a high-skill, high-wage city.

Wages matter. Our city needs to set a wage floor for employers that want to receive publicly funded highly trained program graduates at no less than $20 per hour.

Starting wages in our city for beginning workers need to be better than $15 per hour. Do we really think folks will enroll in full-time education training programs when the endgame pays what some fast-food entry-level jobs pay now? During the height of the pandemic, we heard unemployed members of our institutions tell us they didn’t want handouts, and that what they need is an opportunity and training for good jobs. Good jobs that pay a living wage and include benefits. The people of San Antonio expect wages that will change San Antonio’s economic narrative, not sustain it.

[Photo Credit: Josie Norris, San Antonio Express News]

Commentary: SA Ready to Work Should be Guaranteeing $20 Per HourSan Antonio Express News [pdf

 


CTI Leaders Take Hard Stand Against NXP's Corporate Welfare Request to AISD

When NXP sprung a request for a Chapter 313 tax subsidy before the Austin Independent School District, Central Texas Interfaith leaders decided to descend upon a meeting of the Board of Trustees to ask them to reject the request.  Chapter 313 tax subsidies are 10 year tax breaks to major gas, oil and manufacturing corporations that drain $1 Billion from state coffers on an annual basis.  In response to a barrage of 20 CTI leaders testifying over the phone and in person against the tax giveaway,  NXP (the company requesting the subsidy) changed the number of promised jobs on their application during the meeting from the statutory minimum of 25 to 500 overall. 

[Excerpt]

The majority of community members who provided testimony on May 19 asked the board to vote against the Chapter 313 agreement with NXP.  [Twenty] speakers were members of Central Texas Interfaith, a nonpartisan coalition of congregations, schools and unions that opposes Chapter 313.

“Hardworking taxpayers don’t get this kind of giveaway. Nor do small businesses, or responsible corporations,” said Central Texas Interfaith leader Trenton Henderson. “We want our money to go to public schools, but not to pay the bills for corporations shirking their responsibility to public education. Without a Chapter 313 agreement, NXP would have to pay their full share of school taxes.”

Austin ISD Moves Forward With Semi-Conductors Agreement, Faces Community OppositionCommunity Impact [pdf]

Austin ISD Considering Proposal That Would Help Lower Recapture Payments, Faces OppositionCBS Austin [pdf]

NXP Seeking Up To $140 Million in Tax Breaks for School DistrictsAustin American Statesman [pdf

Chapter 313 Incentives: What They Are and Why They're Suddenly the Talk of the TownAustin Business Journal [pdf]

Oped: Don't Ask Texas Schoolchildren to Fund Your Corporate ExpansionAustin Chronicle [pdf

AISD Board Meeting Broadcast, Austin Independent School District [calls begin at -2:33:30, in person testimony at -1:52:30] 


DAI Fair Banking Assembly Teaches Immigrants How to Avoid Predatory Loans

As part of a civic academy series held across Dallas, St. Luke Catholic Church leaders taught fellow parishioners basic principles of fair banking and how immigrants (including those without legal residency) can avoid predatory lending practices.  Parish ID cards, first developed in Dallas in collaboration with the Dallas Catholic Diocese, featured prominently in the discussion, as did the collaboration with Resource One Credit Union in alternative lending strategies. 

In photo, lay leader Claudia Cruz, shares her experience with the impact of predatory lending.  [Photo Credit: Ben Torres, Revista Católica]

Protegiendo Families Inmigrantes de Abuso BancarioRevista Católica [pdf]


Historic SA Ready to Work Program Launches with COPS/Metro Support

When the pandemic precipitated a massive unemployment crisis in 2020, COPS/Metro immediately pushed the City Council to pump $75 Million into support of displaced workers as they trained for higher paying jobs. 

Leaders then engineered SA Ready to Work as a ballot initiaitve to help 15,000 more residents over the next five years, leading the San Antonio Express-News to call the workforce proposal "COPS/Metro’s baby."  That fall, COPS/Metro leaders educated and delivered more than 50,000 voters to the polls, and Prop B passed with 77% support.   

Even as they celebrate the launch, leaders continue to call on employers to raise the minimum wage standard for new graduates. 

[Excerpts from San Antonio Report]

San Antonio’s new jobs training and placement program officially launched Monday, opening enrollment to what city leaders hope will help thousands of residents develop lifelong career skills that should immediately lead to good-paying jobs.

SA Ready to Work, a $230 million five-year program...has been cast by advocates as a monumental anti-poverty effort in the wake of the pandemic’s economic shocks that could serve as a role model for cities across the country....

COPS/Metro — a grassroots coalition of congregations, schools and unions that has long advocated for anti-poverty measures and campaigned aggressively for the program’s approval — plans to host around 500 house meetings to encourage residents to enroll in the program. Some have already occurred, said Isaiah Banta, an organizer with the group.

[Photo Credit: Scott Ball, San Antonio Report]

Massive City Job Programs Launched, Open for EnrollmentSan Antonio Report [pdf]

As Historic Jobs Program Rolls Out in San Antonio, Do We Still Need It?Texas Public Radio [pdf]


Central Texas Interfaith Opposes Chapter 313 Tax Subsidy to NXP

[Excerpt]

NXP Semiconductors, which is based in the Netherlands and has two fabrication plants in Austin, is seeking tax breaks from the Austin Independent School District under the state's Chapter 313 incentive program for proposed expansion. An initial presentation to the district's board Tuesday night didn't specify the amount, but previous incentives agreements from Texas school districts for similar Chapter 313 deals have been for tens of millions of dollars.

The Chapter 313 incentives program — which is named after a portion of the tax code — has been controversial. It's set to expire at the end of this year because state lawmakers declined to renew it during last year's legislative session, although deals struck before then won't be affected....

Under the Chapter 313 program, school districts are reimbursed by the state for the corporate tax breaks they agree to provide. That attribute has made Chapter 313 controversial among critics who say school districts have no reason not to grant them, and that the program siphons money from taxpayers statewide as handouts to corporations.

“There's no such thing as free money," said Doug Greco, lead organizer with Central Texas Interfaith, a group that opposes all Chapter 313 deals and has worked to help end the program.

“It's money that is being drained out of the state budget that could be going to schools," Greco said. "When you add these (deals) up, it's just a drain on the system that we can't sustain. Let's stop the gold rush here."

[Photo Credit: Mark Matson, Austin American Statesman]

Chipmaker NXP Considers Austin for $2.6 Billion Expansion, Up to 800 New JobsAustin American Statesman [pdf]


EPISO/Border Interfaith Challenges Candidates with 3 Key Questions

[Excerpts]

The El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization (EPISO) and Border Interfaith held its first in-person candidate accountability session Sunday since the pandemic.

The six El Paso County Commissioners Court candidates remaining in the May 24 primary runoff election for Precincts 2 and 4 were invited to the session where they were asked to state their position on policies such as colonias, education and economic development programs....

The incumbent for Precinct 2, David Stout, and Judy Gutiérrez, a candidate for Precinct 2, both attended the meeting.

Sergio Coronado and David Adams, are both candidates for Precinct 4, and they were in attendance.

"I thought it was a great meeting. I wish more organizations, people would take the time to inform themselves, of what their candidates are willing and wanting to do for the people... how you’re [candidates] aligning to my needs," Coronado said.

[Photo Credit: KFOX 14/CBS4]

Precinct 2 & 4 Candidates Feeling Confident After Attending Community MeetingFOX News 14 [pdf]


Capital IDEA Houston Raises Wages in Houston from $7 to $24/hour

Executive Director Michelle Paul explains how Capital IDEA Houston transforms lives.  Capital IDEA Houston is a long-term job training program established by TMO.  


Cortes: How the IAF Helped California Residents in Fight for Fair Housing

[Excerpt]

"When COVID-19 came to California, the California organizations of the Industrial Areas Foundation, the nation’s largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations, immediately sprang into action. They began organizing virtual meetings at the local level — hundreds of community members gathering every week primarily to share how they were doing....

In the summer of 2021, the California IAF organized an action. Six hundred leaders from over 100 parishes and community-based institutions gathered together virtually to call on the state to extend its eviction moratorium and reform its housing relief program....

The organizing work of the California IAF around housing has revealed two truths that should be held in tension with one another. First, government must do more to address the housing crisis. Public policy and investment are necessary to make housing more affordable.

But, second, government can often be disconnected with how things are working in communities. Effective government depends on the local expertise contained by those who are seeking a decent home. Solving the housing crisis in California hinges on the involvement of our parishes continuously working to ensure that government intervention matches the local needs of our people."

[In Photo: Bishop Oscar Cantú of the Diocese of San Jose.  Photo Credit: Tyler Osburn, CNS]

The Fight for Fair Housing in California, and How the Industrial Areas Foundation Helped ResidentsThe Dialog [pdf]


AMOS' Dogged Persistence Leads to Largest Skatepark in America

The latest video by the (Tony Hawk Foundation) Skatepark Project highlight stories of community transformation in and from the installation of the Lauridsen Skatepark in Des Moines, Iowa. 

"There was a dogged persistence in skaters trying to land whatever they were trying to learn," notes IAF organizer Paul Turner.  "In terms of advocacy, it's kind of the same."

The full story, told by Turner and AMOS leader Jan Hill, can be read in the Des Moines Register.    

Des Moines Lauridsen Skatepark: Tracing a 17-year Journey, From a Nuisance to a Metro TreasureDes Moines Register [pdf]

Story Behind America's Largest SkateparkRIDE Channel [video]


ABQ Interfaith: State Officials Need to Hold Schools Harmless

[Excerpt]

New Mexico – and the world – have just been through a natural disaster. Our children, families and schools are recovering slowly, but recovery will take time. Schools are just beginning to understand and evaluate what was lost during the pandemic, and are moving into recovery mode. Now is not the time to nickel-and-dime school budgets, forcing districts and charter schools to choose between laying off educators or cutting spending for the programs that will bring families back.

Albuquerque Interfaith’s 22 member churches, synagogue, schools and nonprofit organizations call on the Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to fully fund the salary increases approved for teachers and other educators.

We also call on them to allow two more transition years for schools and districts to find the students and families who left during the disaster. The pandemic hit overnight, but it is unfair to families and educators struggling with its impact to expect recovery to happen instantly and without extraordinary resources....

Oped: Governor, Lawmakers Need to Hold NM Schools HarmlessAlbuquerque Journal