Persistence and progress in 2013 : An update from EOI

May 3, 2013 | John Burbank

john burbank

John Burbank, EOI Executive Director

A few short months ago, my good friend Aubrey Davis passed away. He wasn’t only a founder of the Economic Opportunity Institute, he was also a mentor to me and many others. He taught me many lessons in the years I knew him – not least of which is how to die with grace and love. I miss him every day.

What Aubrey would want for EOI is clear: continued progress toward a more just economy and society. To that end, here are a few updates about how, with your support, EOI has been pushing for progress in the first months of 2013…

…to keep higher education within reach:

  • I’ve visited with students, administrators and legislators in Washington, California, Oregon and Vermont about EOI’s debt-free degree plan, called Pay It Forward. With state support for higher education on the decline – and tuition still on the rise – people are very interested. Here’s one recent news story from Oregon about this innovative approach to keeping college affordable and accessible.

…to secure a dignified retirement for all:

  • There’s new interest among state leaders in EOI’s proposal for Universal Retirement Savings Accounts, a state-run retirement plan open to any employer and employee. With half of all workers in Washington unable to save for retirement at their workplace because their employers do not offer a retirement plan, it’s high time! I’m optimistic we’ll see some progress on this idea in the next 6-9 months.
  • While it’s true EOI is pretty far outside the Beltway, reports are that the notion of scrapping the cap on Social Security taxes was “all the rage” at a recent National Press Foundation’s program in Washington, D.C. The New York Times recently published a prominent feature about the idea. (Have you seen our Just Scrap the Cap music video yet?)

…to reform our state’s tax code: 

  • This year we’ve helped put concrete proposals to reform the state’s tax code into play. The House budget proposes closing several of the state’s most egregious tax loopholes, and differing measures in both the House and Senate would enact performance standards for new tax breaks. It’s the beginning of a long overdue conversation about how we’re really going to fund public priorities like full-day kindergarten, improved health care, and higher education.

…to promote healthy workers, families and businesses: 

  • We led an effort by the Washington Work and Family Coalition to fund and expand coverage of Family Leave Insurance (FLI), and to advance a statewide paid sick days law. Conservative state senators mounted the opposite effort, trying to repeal both FLI and Seattle’s landmark paid sick days law.Those repeal efforts have (so far) failed, and while our effort to expand FLI and paid sick days didn’t become law this session, we’re already working with state and local allies and lawmakers to move the ball down the road in other ways. On a happier note: the success of Seattle’s paid sick days law has rippled across the country. New York City and Portland, Oregon both passed paid sick days laws in March!

I want to thank you for making these efforts and advances possible. Creating public policies that benefit workers, families and communities is not what you would call a small undertaking. But it is an essential one – and thanks to your support, we can continue pursuing systemic change, economic justice and progress. For that, I am incredibly appreciative.

P.S. May 15th is GiveBIG, our community’s biggest day of giving of the year. If you’d like to support our work, please consider making a gift to EOI on that day. Thank you!

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