Austin to Decide on Tax Deals & Living Wage

City councilmembers will vote Thursday on a long-debated initiative requiring that corporations that receive public subsidies pay the prevailing wage or at least $11 per hour (the City and County established living wage) -- something that "groups such as Austin Interfaith and the Austin-based Workers Defense Project have been seeking for years."

Economic incentives has been a key issue in prior elections.  Austin Interfaith has been working on this issue since 2008. 

City May Set $11 Wage for Tax DealsAustin American Statesman


Chamber Leaders Join Central Texas Clergy in Immigration Education Effort

131006 - Clergy - Immigration EventFor the first time in Central Texas, leaders from two Chambers of Commerce joined clergy from Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith traditions for an afternoon of education about economic, business and legal perspectives on immigration reform.  This second event in a campaign organized by clergy leadership, drew 220 participants — about twice as many as the first one.  Testimonies from workers, divided families and DACA leaders highlighted the human cost; presentations by business leaders and legal experts outlined the economic and business costs of a lack of reform.  All urged participants to meet with their legislative representatives and to demonstrate a constituency of voters that support compassionate reform. 

Austin Interfaith Hosts Immigration Reform EventAustin American Statesman


Organized Constituencies Carry the Day

"Austin Interfaith leaders mobilized members to show up en masse to city budget hearings to plug these programs, meet with council members and bombard council offices with calls and emails in the days leading up to the final budget vote.

The nonprofit was elated that council members agreed to spend money on all of Austin Interfaith’s priorities, totaling $2.4 million.

Austin Interfaith and the parks coalition “were effective because they were very diverse, broad-based groups that had a clear message: that as a world-class city, we should be able to fund some of these critical needs better,” City Council Member Kathie Tovo said."

Organized Groups Won the Day in Austin Budget VoteAustin American Statesman


City Council Adopts Budget with Austin Interfaith Priorities

"The Austin City Council has adopted its budget for the next fiscal year. For the first time in more than a decade, the council lowered Austin’s tax rate, [putting] the budget for next fiscal year just under $800 million. It is money that will bolster five initiatives Reverend Sandy Jones and Austin Interfaith advocated for. Jones is especially grateful for an additional $350,000 that will restart after-school programs... They're programs that were slashed during the recession and are just now being restored. "They do listen, and they do trust us with the ideas that we bring to them," Jones said. "It showed that they care about our youth. They care about the instruction of the youth in our community."

Austin City Council Adopts New Budget, Austin YNN Austin Interfaith Recognizes Council For Investing in All PrioritiesAustin Interfaith

Austin Interfaith Recognizes Council Members for Investing in All Budget Priorities

  For Immediate Release - September 10, 2013

Contact: Bob Batlan (512) 796 1533 - Jim O'Quinn (512) 589 2838

Austin Interfaith Recognizes Council Members for Investing in All Budget Priorities

Austin Interfaith commends council members for approving the reallocation of over a million dollars in the 2013-2014 budget to workforce development and youth programs at parks, schools and libraries while decreasing the tax rate. This is an investment in our children, youth and future skilled workforce.

"Today's decisions are a victory for Austin's future generation--because they're going to have more story times at the library, more hours at the pool and enriching classes after school. We want to see our future doctors, lawyers, and artists come from our own communities, families and education system," said Austin Interfaith leader Reverend Sandy Jones of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

Austin Interfaith Budget Priorities:

- Primetime Afterschool - $350,000
Restore funding for AISD youth programs.

- Austin Public Libraries - $307,490
Support youth literacy by funding bilingual outreach and children's librarians.

- Capital IDEA - $200,000
Invest a total of $1.13 million in economic development that can end the cycle of poverty.

- Parks and Recreation - $1.455 Million
Provide equitable parks and park programming by investing in underserved parks and pools.

- Summer Youth Employment - $72,000
Restore funding for summer youth programs.

Thank you to council members Martinez, Morrison and Tovo for making the motions to fund these priorities.


Last Chance to Support City Investments in Youth

Monday, September 9, 2013, Austin City Council members will make important City Budget decisions that directly affect our families. Even though Austin is a growing city, for years funding has been cut in areas that are important to our families, like youth programs, libraries and parks. Austin Interfaith is working with congregations and schools across the city to ensure the budget reinvests in the people of Austin. We can make sure council members hear our voice by working together to make hundreds of calls and emails before Monday morning. It's quick and easy!

In emails please be sure to use the Subject: Austin Interfaith Budget Priorities (otherwise all of our emails will not be counted together!).

Click here for more info and Council Members' Contact Info


Dove Springs Leaders Fight for Neighborhood Healthcare

Austin Interfaith leader Ofelia Zapata has been fighting for neighborhood healthcare solutions in Dove Springs."Central Health is building a 70,000-square foot facility called the Southeast Health and Wellness Center. Slated to open in fall 2014, the center will cost Travis County taxpayers about $8 million. It will have exercise classes and nutrition counseling, aimed at combating some of the area’s biggest health challenges.  But one of its strongest critics is Ofelia Zapata..."

[Photo Credit: Felipa Rodriguez for KUT News]

A Tipping Point for Healthcare in Dove Springs?, KUT News

Public Calls for Health Organization To Be More Open, Austin American Statesman (08/07/13)


Texas IAF Reconstitutes Job Training Fund to $5M

Photo of compressors and mechanical drives class at Texas State Tech in Waco"The Launchpad Fund, which gave nonprofits $10 million starting in the 2010-11 biennium to support career training programs for low-income students, will be replaced by the Texas Innovative Adult Career Education Grant program. The ACE grant program will award about $5 million under a similar model to nonprofits for the next biennium. It will be administered by Austin Community College, which will step into the comptroller's office's current oversight role....

Said Minerva Camarena-Skeith, a representative of Austin Interfaith, the nonprofit that helped found Capital IDEA with business community members and advocates for public funding: “It still gives these job-training programs the opportunity to apply for these $5 million, and also be able to leverage more city and local funds.”

[Photo Credit: Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune]

Job Training  Program Adjusts Amid Funding Cuts, Texas Tribune

Governor Signs Bill: $5 Million for Adult Career Training, Network of Texas IAF Organizations


AI Fights for Affordable Housing & Rental Code Enforcement

"Interviews with current and former public officials, real estate experts and citizen activists suggest that Austin has simply lacked the political will to do things differently. “We have very laudable standards on the environment and are willing to go to bat, even to war on those issues,” said Kurt Cadena-Mitchell, a leader with Austin Interfaith, which supports some form of rental registration. “To go to war for the poor, that type of will is not embedded here....”

Why 'Progressive' Austin Failed to Address Substandard Rental Housing, Austin American Statesman

Churches Forgo the Hammer on Housing, USA Today


Austin Interfaith's First In-District Charter Leads the Way

Travis Heights parent drop off her daughter in a dual language kindergarten classroom at new in-district charter school Travis Heights Elementary School.  Lead Organizer: Jacob Cortes"The switch at Travis Heights has been in the making for nearly three years.  Austin Interfaith, a coalition of schools, churches and unions, and district labor group Education Austin ...reached out to 100 campuses before they found a partner in Travis Heights willing to become a charter. Their volunteers then went door-to-door, garnering support and hosting school meetings to find out what parents and teachers wanted in a school. They reached 90 percent of the school’s households and got 99 percent support from parents and 97 percent support from staff...."

[Photo Credit: Ralph Barrera, Austin American Statesman]

Switch to Charter Means More Innovation at Travis Heights, Austin American Statesman

How Travis Heights Elementary Could Change Schools in Austin, KUT News

AISD's First Homegrown Charter School Promises Real Life LessonsKVUE & KHOU