Sustainable Economic Development

I support economic development that will benefit the public by creating family-supporting jobs, equal opportunity, an equitable  standard of living; and a more equal distribution of wealth while guaranteeing workers’ rights. The City of Madison should have an Economic Development Plan that guides the City’s policies and practices, including budget and planning decisions, and that focuses on neighborhoods most in need of investment, to be updated annually through a public process. Sustainable economic development means, Economic Justice, Housing Justice, and Climate Change and Environmental Justice all together. 

It means we need a people’s budget to accomplish these goals and affordable development plans for District 12 and the City of Madison.

People’s Budget

We deserve a city that invests in its people, and we can’t get that if citizens don’t have a voice in the process. We need participatory budgeting that empowers residents and communities, not the lobbyists and special interests that dominate our current process. 

Affordable development plans for District 12:

We need democracy in development now, so that the development coming to our district over the next few years will lift up our community, not push us out. We have an affordable housing crisis in this city and in our district. We have to develop generational investment in housing and renters’ rights to reverse these trends and lift up our neighbors in need. The magnitude and breadth of the current crisis requires a multi-dimensional approach.

  • Neighborhood-based economic development and City policies and programs that foster small, local, and start-up businesses, and worker-owned cooperatives, such as entrepreneurial training, micro-lending, business incubators, assistance with business plans, and help identifying available office and manufacturing locations.
  • All economic development decision-making must center equity 
  • Economic and social aid programs and protection of our most vulnerable residents must be centered in the City’s economic development agenda.
  • Enforce Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) guidelines that require businesses receiving public TIF funds to:
    • Support Union card check neutrality.
    • Require businesses to pay their employees a living wage, indexed to inflation, and to provide health insurance benefits.
    • Ban creation of TIF districts that do not have an identified sufficient revenue source.
    • Support projects that have clear public benefits (economic, environmental, community-enhancing, and otherwise) and have legally enforceable Community Benefit Agreements. Developers who fail to produce these results should be required to repay the TIF subsidy with interest.
    • Target funds to neighborhoods in which the City has not historically invested.
    • Ensure a uniform application of minimum financial feasibility criteria for funding TIF Districts.
    • Give preference to proposals that add affordable housing units for the existing population of an area.
  • Initiatives and programs that promote environmentally friendly technology and employment, including urban agriculture.

Economic Justice

We can’t achieve an equitable society without addressing economic inequality. We live in a class-based society that is organized to keep people poor in order to support the wealth of an undeserving few. Healthy, educated, and equitable societies cannot exist in the face of extreme economic segregation, and we believe that all people in society deserve economic dignity.

  • $15 per hour minimum wage along with the abolition of the service industry wage and tipping so that anyone working a full-time job doesn’t have to live in poverty. Additionally, Wisconsin needs to put an end to the sub-minimum wage, which allows employers to pay some disabled workers as little as 4 cents an hour for the same type of work non-disabled workers perform. The state should also restore prevailing wage laws.
  • Repeal Act 10 and Right to Work legislation: Restore full bargaining rights to public employees and end “right to work” laws designed to weaken labor unions and bring down working standards.
  • One year paid parental leave for all Wisconsin residents. Leave should  include childbirth, adoption, and the loss of a child/bereavement. The State of Wisconsin should levy taxes on corporations to fund a public system for paid parental leave.  
  • Guarantee two weeks of paid vacation and sick leave a year for all workers in Wisconsin. 
  • Reinstitute the requirement that employers pay the full contribution to workers’ retirement in the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS).
  • Make Wisconsin a “Just Cause” state.  Workers in the United States are employed “At Will” and can be terminated for any reason, save outright discrimination. Currently, only union workers have won “Just Cause” protections stipulating specific conditions for termination. Expanding Just Cause to all workers provides common sense protections and helps safeguard workers who want to organize unions by removing the fear of retaliatory firings.
  • Build food sovereignty by investing resources into community-led agricultural programs to provide nutritious, affordable, and culturally appropriate food to all, while opposing developments that would create or exacerbate food deserts.
  • Fight wage theft (unpaid wages) with stronger penalties for employers who break the law and refuse to pay their workers.

Ensure “union neutrality” for any businesses accepting public funding, subsidies, or Tax-Increment Financing. Businesses that receive public money should agree not to intervene in union organizing efforts and should recognize workers’ desire for union representation if they so choose.

Housing Justice

We need democracy in development,  as we know that District 12 will see a lot of development over the next few years. That development needs to work for the communities that already live here, not replace our current neighborhoods. 

We need renters rights. We must go further than to  guarantee moratoriums on evictions for tenants. We must immediately instate rent debt forgiveness to adequately address the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We must implement rent control to protect our neighborhoods and working families. In order to address historic and systemic inequalities in housing, we must create pathways for Black and Brown collective ownership and work with the land back movements and the Ho-Chunk nation to increase Ho-Chunk control over their land. 

Evictions have led to higher rates of COVID-19 and death. Housing is a human right and during a world-wide pandemic, loss of housing can be a death sentence. We need a Homes Guarantee.

  • Tenant Power: Just as workers deserve a voice in their workplace, so too do tenants deserve a voice in their living conditions. Madison should reinstate the 1970s rental relations ordinance that gave tenant unions the right to bargain with their landlords before a city board.
  • Just cause eviction: Although it is illegal to refuse to renew a lease for retaliatory purposes, it is nearly impossible for a tenant to prove that this has happened. The City of Madison should establish a limited set of conditions under which lease non-renewal is allowed, and put the burden on landlords to demonstrate that those conditions have been met when they decide not to renew a tenant’s lease.
  • Affordability: A person working for minimum wage needs to work almost three full-time jobs to afford rent on the average two-bedroom apartment in Madison. To stabilize this crisis, the city should implement rent control as well as eliminate single-family zoning, making it legal to build more affordable “missing middle” homes (duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes), as was recently done in Minneapolis
  • Legal representation:  The city should guarantee free legal representation to every renter facing eviction in the city
  • Vacancy Tax: We need to make sure that homes are built for people, not money. We demand Madison implement luxury, vacancy, and AirBnB taxes similar to the one in Vancouver.
  • Social Housing: We call for a social housing program to look beyond this crisis to a future where our city offers fair and secure housing to all. The City of Madison should take the $25 million it has in the Affordable Housing Trust and use it to directly buy or build truly democratic, affordable, and green housing. Public money should not be given to developers as subsidies and incentives, which only serve to profit landlords.
  • HOMELESSNESS: We need to take on the homeless issue in Madison head on, using the following steps.
    • Making long-term housing available to people without homes of their own, including making vacant public property available for housing the homeless.
    • Adequate, safe and welcoming shelter space for homeless individuals and families, not limited by gender identity or expression.
    • Around-the-clock access to facilities providing basic needs and supportive services to homeless individuals and families.
    • Securing rights of those applying for and participating in emergency shelter and Community Development Authority (CDA) housing programs to services delivered with respect, courtesy and care. 
    • Ensuring a third-party complaint process for grievances related to homeless shelter services and subsidized housing.
    • Prioritizing funding for no- and low-barrier housing services that are sensitive to trauma and its impact on people, and implementing service models that meet clients where they are, without requiring sobriety as a requisite for eligibility.
    • Prioritizing City-owned property for safe sheltering and access to clean water and sanitation for people experiencing homelessness, especially during public health emergencies when fewer people can safely access congregate shelter.
    • While working towards long-term housing, the City should work with the County and act urgently to secure motel and hotel rooms for vulnerable people experiencing homelessness.

Equitable Schools

Quality education is a fundamental right of all children and families. This means that schools must be equitable for students of color, queer students, trans students, and disabled students. Beyond creating “trauma-informed” schools, we must actively work to prevent and dismantle traumatizing systems of oppression in education. Public money should be used to prioritize student learning and family well-being by instituting:   

Universal Pre-K programming that will allow families to work and thrive while reducing the onerous costs of childcare. At the same time, our schools need to expand after-school programs so that all students can benefit from quality after-school care.

Tuition-free education at all 2- and 4-year UW schools.

Free, nutritious breakfast and lunch available to every K-12 student.

The Internet as a public utility is crucial for equitable education throughout our community, during the pandemic and afterwards. As the internet becomes essential to daily life, particularly to accessing education, it is crucial that we offer affordable and high-quality internet to everyone. 

Increase teacher and education worker compensation to the maximum allowable amount under Act 10 each year, until Act 10 is rescinded. This should be done while adding, not removing, staff positions from Madison Metropolitan School District in order to lower student/teacher ratios in the classroom.

Racial makeup of teaching staff must at least match that of the student body. Whiteness is overrepresented among school teachers, and all students benefit when there is racial diversity among their educators.

Implement teacher education programs to help teachers intervene and prevent bullying of queer and trans students.

Keep cops out of schools: While Madison Public Schools terminated the contract for cops in schools, we want to make sure they stay out and that funding from the police department goes to services for communities. MMSD needs to invest the money of the ERO contract, and more, in the welfare and flourishing of black and brown students.

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