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RuralOrganizing.org statement on Budget Reconciliation Negotiations

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.Org:

We are reaching crunch time on the Build Back Better reconciliation bill and  we need to make something very clear: This legislation could be a much needed boon for rural America.

The Build Back Better agenda addresses real concerns - the things rural families worry about every single day: child care, prescription drug prices, eye care and dental care for Seniors and programs that prioritize small, local businesses and keep rural schools, grocery stores, pharmacies, and clinics from closing. Those are real life issues.  These are the things rural voters worry about and talk about every day.


Rural voters are not talking about the legislative process or parliamentarians or even the stepped-up basis. They want Congress to get things done to increase good paying jobs and wages in rural communities, decrease the daily expenses of rural Americans, and improve the quality of life in small town America.

We know billionaires and multinational corporations  with their armies of corporate lobbyists are working hard to make this budget work for them - not the rest of us.  Any Democrat who is working to undermine reconciliation is choosing corporate America’s lobbyists and billionaires over their rural constituents.  

For the last several decades, we’ve all seen how corporate lobbyists have rewritten our laws to ensure that the big get bigger and richer and the small get screwed. That’s especially true in rural parts of the country where the corporate agenda is  killing competition in the market and jacking up our prices making it harder and harder for families today to get ahead. Meanwhile, they hide behind rural voters to thwart tax reform like the stepped-up basis, which Secretary Vilsack correctly noted “has allowed the wealthy to amass large fortunes.” 

I’m often asked why rural voters vote against their own interests. I think, in part, it’s because  too many Democrats who have large rural constituencies, like Senators Manchin and Sinema, align themselves with corporate lobbyists and billionaires instead of the people they were elected to serve. We will see what Democrats do: stand with rural people or stand with their corporate donors. 

“The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.”

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RuralOrganizing.org statement on House Agriculture Committee Reconciliation Markup

Today, the House Agriculture Committee will markup their piece of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that includes more than $18 billion for rural prosperity, water and energy programs and an historic $40 billion for forestry programs over the next decade. 

Included in the details released yesterday by House Democrats is a new $4 billion “Rural Partnership Program” championed by Rep. Antonio Delgado, Rep. Cheri Bustos, and Rep. Angie Craig that’s focused on giving local, rural experts the tools they need to leverage federal funds to bring good paying jobs to their communities.

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.Org:

Today marks another important step forward for rural Americans. 

The American Rescue Plan marked the biggest investment in rural America in decades. The Budget Reconciliation package is shaping up to be another commitment to communities that have been ignored and overlooked for too long. 

To ensure that this money has a maximum impact, RuralOrganizing.org and our colleagues have been advocating for a strategic program to unlock federal funding for small towns and rural communities

President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats appear to be doing that with the investment in the “Rural Partnership Program (RPP).”  At the core of the new $4 billion rural Partnership Program are two new grant programs called “Rural Prosperity Development Grants’ and “Rural Innovation Grants.” Combined with the other investments from the ARP and budget package, these programs will help reduce poverty and increase homegrown prosperity in small towns and rural communities. It is a very welcome development.

We look forward to working with the White House and  Democrats in the House and Senate to insure passage of the $3.5 trillion package. There is so much in this vital legislation that will change lives for the better across the country - and, for a change, rural America isn’t being left behind.

“The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.”

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RuralOrganizing.org statement as Debate begins on Budget Reconciliation

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.Org:

This week, committees in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate will begin marking up the budget reconciliation. Democrats are poised to pass one of the most significant pieces of legislation in decades - and its benefits will be felt throughout the country, particularly rural communities.  

The $3.5 trillion package addresses issues that have been ignored for too long: the climate crisis, child poverty, child care, universal pre-K, tuition-free community college, and rural prosperity. Lowering the Medicare eligibility age and expanding benefits to include dental, vision and hearing. immigration, infrastructure, Medicare expansion to include dental, hearing and vision, and finally reining in prescription drug prices will have an outsize impact in rural America. 

Every element of the budget reconciliation package impacts the everyday lives and struggles of the American people. It shows a commitment to putting people first. We especially encourage those Senators and House members with large rural populations to deliver for the people they represent who have too often felt ignored and overlooked. This is a momentous opportunity to put them first. 

For too long, it felt like too many in Washington, DC, - both elected officials and many pundits - have talked about rural America without actually listening to rural Americans. We are rural and we have listened. When we actually sit down and listen to what rural people are telling us, they want us to focus on three primary things: (1) increasing wages and good paying jobs in their communities, (2) reducing their daily expenses, and (3) protecting and improving their quality of life. That is what this legislation does.

Finally, we believe any Democrat even thinking about cutting the package should  explain, in detail, what they want to cut and why  those people impacted by those cuts aren’t worthy enough to benefit from the package - and every Democrat should demand that information. We simply can’t  accept talking points from any member of the House or Senate who wants to decrease the overall spending for the sake of cuts without letting us know who gets left out. So they need to be clear which of their constituents will bear the brunt - and their colleagues should want to know the same for their constituents.

At RuralOrganizing.org and RuralOrganizing.org Education Fund, we are committed to seeing this through. We have  launched a two-year national campaign focused on passing legislation that promotes rural prosperity among traditionally marginalized communities and the budget reconciliation package is a critical component of that work. 

 

“The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.”

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RuralOrganizing.org And RuralOrganizing.org Education Fund Launch National Campaign to Build Back Better in Rural America Ahead of Key Infrastructure Votes

Columbus, OH — Today, RuralOrganizing.org and RuralOrganizing.org Education Fund launch a two-year national campaign focused on 1) passing local, state, and federal legislation that promote rural prosperity among traditionally marginalized communities; and 2) building lasting rural civic infrastructure that insures rural progressives play a significant role in their local stimulus allocation processes.

As much as $60 billion in rural aid could be available based on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the upcoming reconciliation package, which draws on President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. Thanks in part to the work of many advocates, including RuralOrganizing.org’s national lobbying efforts, tens of billions of dollars for homegrown rural prosperity programs are currently on the table.

The debate and votes on the bipartisan and reconciliation mark the beginning of an aggressive long term campaign by RuralOrganizing.org and RuralOrganizing.org Education Fund to ensure local rural experts have the tools they need to lead local rural prosperity efforts at the city, county and state level.

The legislative agenda of the Campaign for Rural Progress can be found here.

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.Org & RuralOrganizing.org Education Fund:

Local rural leaders are getting organized and pushing Congress for what could be the  biggest investment in rural America in decades. The American Rescue Plan laid a strong foundation for building back better in Rural America. Now some of the provisions currently being debated in Congress as part of the jobs package, such as a new Rural Prosperity Partnership (RPP) program, would mark a new, more strategic and locally-led approach to bringing jobs and opportunity to many communities experiencing economic distress. We are calling for $60 billion dollars to be invested in America’s small towns and rural areas including $5 billion dollars to be specifically allocated for $5 billion to local rural experts through RPP to make sure they have the money they  need to bring jobs and economic prosperity back to their communities. It's a federal program that understands rural people are best positioned to solve the challenges facing rural communities and ensure that tax dollars earmarked for rural communities stay rural.

The following is a statement from Sylvia C.  Brown, Director, Strategic Operations of RuralOrganizing.Org & RuralOrganizing.org Education Fund:

The effectiveness of the programs contained in each of the emerging infrastructure bills is critical, not just to Democrats’ prospects in key rural battleground elections, but to the survival of rural communities in the 21st Century.  RuralOrganizing.org and RuralOrganizing.org Education Fund have three distinct roles to play at the local level in realizing the progressive vision put forth by this administration. First, we must help electeds navigate the federal guidance and inform them about support resources. Second, we must help grassroots advocates achieve transparency and inclusion in local allocation processes while centering both the needs and assets of traditionally marginalized communities. Third, we must identify capacity gaps for implementation that both audiences can solve collaboratively. These three roles coincide with and stand to strengthen the rural advocates and activists who can make these vital programs successful for their communities.

The following is a statement from Kellon Patey, Lead Organizer at RuralOrganizing.Org & RuralOrganizing.org Education Fund:

For too long, we have overlooked the need for both infrastructure and support for our residents. This can be life-changing, if done properly. And, it can also feel overwhelming. But, we all agree this must be done properly and effectively. Rural advocates need to be ready to help steer these programs and assist in their implementation. That’s why I am so excited about this campaign to equip and educate local organizations. This can be transformative and it must be. 

 

“The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.”

 

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RuralOrganizing.org Applauds the Biden Administration’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy

Today, President Biden unveiled an Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy designed to break the hold of corporate monopolies - an especially important issue for rural America. 

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org:

Since our inception, RuralOrganizing.org has pushed for aggressive action to take on the corporate monopolies that have rigged the system in rural communities. Our extensive polling of rural voters consistently found this has been an important issue for rural voters, impacting small business and family farmers alike. Today, President Biden took a major step in the right direction with the new executive order to address competition and rein in monopolies. 

As the President said, “Fair competition is what made America the wealthiest, most innovative nation in history.” The operative word there is “fair.” In rural America, we welcome competition. Fair competition. But Wall Street and massive corporations have rigged the system and obliterated any sense of fairness. As a result, wages have stagnated, well paying jobs are harder to come by, and daily our expenses have continued to increase.

Today marks another important step forward in the Biden administration's commitment to rural communities, building on the  American Rescue Plan. We thank the President and strongly urge him and House and Senate Democrats to keep moving the country forward by passing the provisions of the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan. 

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

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Joe Biden’s First 100 Days Mark A New Era Of Opportunity For America’s Small Towns And Rural Communities

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org in response to President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office.

President Joe Biden believes the small town way of life is worth fighting for and that no one should have to choose between leaving their hometown and providing their family with opportunity, healthcare, and financial security. That’s what we learned from his first 100 days in office.

For too long, Wall Street and agribusiness monopolies have rigged the system in rural communities. As a result, wages have stagnated, well paying jobs are harder to come by, and access to higher education and technical training programs as well as quality healthcare are increasingly scarce. That’s why our network has spent the last year advocating  for policies that will raise wages, decrease daily expenses, and improve the quality of life for Americans living in our country’s small towns and rural communities. We are thrilled with what we have seen from the Biden Administration during the first 100 days.

The American Jobs Plan will increase rural wages by hiring rural workers to fix our highways, rebuild our bridges, retrofit our homes, and upgrade our airports and transit systems while requiring that goods and materials are made in America. And, the investment in broadband will ensure that rural communities have access to the connectivity required in the post-covid economy.

The American Families Plan will reduce daily expenses for rural families by making education more affordable, expanding school meal programs, making the child and Dependent Care Tax Credit permanent, and lowering health care costs by making the American Rescue Plan’s health insurance premium reductions permanent, 

Through the passage of the American Rescue Plan, President Biden and Congressional Democrats have already made critical investments in the public services and institutions that have long been the foundation from which we built the rural way of life.

President Biden is championing critical federal programs specifically designed for the types of communities that Democrats have struggled to connect with over the last few decades. If Congressional Democrats are successful in the passage of the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan - and capitalize on the vital investments from the American Rescue plan, they could shift the political fault lines in America for decades to come.

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

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While Republicans Continue to Prioritize Wall Street, Democratic Lawmakers Must Stand Up for Main Streets in Rural America and Pass The American Jobs Plan

Columbus, OH—The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org in response to reports that Republicans plan to uniformly oppose the Joe Biden Jobs Plan.  

Rural voters are tired of the endless stream of broken promises on infrastructure. The past administration turned it into a running joke. But, it was never funny. Not only do the vast majority of American voters  support The American Jobs Plan but a clear majority think ambitious proposals like this should be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations. 

American workers are the most critical piece of our infrastructure and know that it’s not just about building roads, bridges, locks and dams or upgrading public transportation like buses and trains and investments in clean energy infrastructure, like solar panels and wind turbines.  We need new job training programs for those left behind by closed coal mines and power plants and expanded high speed internet access across the country. We need affordable childcare options and expanded family and medical leave for all workers.

While some Republicans, like South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, are attacking the American Jobs Plan by making absurd claims that “housing and pipes” aren’t infrastructure, others,  like Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst, are open and upfront about their opposition to corporations paying higher taxes. For years, Republicans claimed to stand with  small towns and rural communities, but the jig is up. The fight for the The American Jobs Plan is a fight between Wall Street donors and Main Street America and now we know where Republicans firmly stand.

There’s no investment in infrastructure without raising taxes on corporations. We just learned that over 50 of the largest corporations paid nothing in federal income tax. Zero. So while Republicans like to talk about the need for highway and bridge construction, watch how they do everything possible to undermine this legislation because they are beholden to  their Wall Street donors.  

It’s up to Democrats to provide solutions. Biden’s infrastructure proposal would be a boon for rural America. It invests in people and their real life needs. Democrats should let  Republicans prioritize the wishes of big corporations over the small farms and the small businesses that are the bedrock of rural economies. 

At RuralOrganizing.org, we believe that increased investments in infrastructure, from bridges to broadband and so much more, are vital to restoring rural prosperity.  Rural communities understand this. We strongly support the American Jobs Act and look forward to its passage  - with or without Republican support. 

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

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The American Jobs Plan Is A Major Step Forward For Rural Prosperity

Columbus, OH—Today, President Biden unveiled “The American Jobs Plan,” a policy proposal that, if passed, would be a major step forward  in our ongoing campaign for rural prosperity.

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org.

For decades, rural communities have faced crumbling infrastructure, lack of investment and government inaction. Republicans talk a good game but never deliver for their rural constituents. That’s why today’s announcement of the American Jobs Plan is a welcome change of direction. 

From affordable and reliable high-speed broadband for every American to repairing the 10,000 most structurally deficient bridges in the country and so many other critical elements, The American Jobs Plan will improve the quality of life and the economies of countless small towns and rural communities.

Rural Americans are no strangers to big, bold ideas and The American Jobs Plan includes specific provisions to invest in research and development as well as partnerships with Tribal communities that will spur innovation, create jobs, and ensure economic growth in our small towns and rural communities.

As we’ve said many times, good policy is always good politics. This is an important step towards developing a bold progressive policy vision rooted in rural prosperity. At RuralOrganizing.org, we will continue our work to ensure that passage of this new legislation must include those provisions and we encourage all legislators, especially those with rural constituents, to make it happen. We’ve waited too long already. 
 

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

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RuralOrganizing.org Interviewed 70 Rural Organizers Who Worked on 2020 Campaigns. Here’s What We Learned

Columbus, OH — Electoral campaigns can’t do it all, we need permanent rural civic infrastructure, that’s what we discovered when we conducted 70 “2020 Exit Interviews” with progressive rural organizers, candidates, and civic leaders. Between December 01, 2020 and March 01, 2021, RuralOrganizing.org carried out a campaign to capture, analyze, and share the lessons learned by rural engagement leaders from 2020 campaign trails. Then, compiled our qualitative data into the set of conclusions and recommendations contained in this report. Today, we held a discussion of our findings on Facebook at 4 PM ET. A recording of the video is now available.

After months of research, we were left with three key findings: 

  • First, electoral campaigns are hamstrung by a lack of permanent rural civic infrastructure. 

  • Second, local issue campaigns in off-years are the best way to build that infrastructure. 

  • Third, in order to leverage new rural civic infrastructure, candidates must incorporate those local issues in their platforms, outreach, and messaging.  

The full report is available here for download

The following is a statement from Kellon Patey, Lead Organizer at RuralOrganizing.org:

The purpose of this research campaign was to ensure essential lessons learned by rural organizers on the front lines of the 2020 election cycle were collected, catalogued, and shared with rural progressive stakeholders—everyone from grassroots volunteers, to progressive philanthropic institutions, to the Democratic National Committee. 

Typically, organizers and local candidates spend months accumulating valuable insights, but campaigns typically close up shop before collecting the valuable feedback from the field about tactics, platform, and messaging. These critical real world experiences are excluded from the post-election analysis and future strategy. I want to thank my colleagues, Blanca Soto and Anderson Clayton, for their contribution to this project.

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of  RuralOrganizing.org:

In 2020, RuralOrganizing.org did extensive research of rural voters to get a better understanding of their needs and concerns. After the election, we wanted to know how campaigns dealt with rural voters. There was no better place to find that out than with the people who were on the front lines talking to those voters. They have given us vital information that should guide our work moving forward.

Without heeding the advice of those closest to rural voters, national progressive leadership will jeopardize Democratic control of the Senate in 2022 and beyond. Key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia all have populations that are over 40% rural and exurban. Ultimately, our research indicates that Democrats  would be wise to invest early and intentionally in local issue campaigns and leadership development through 2021 so our movement is ready to mobilize a well-nourished progressive civic infrastructure in 2022. Our report articulates specific recommendations that we hope candidates, campaigns, civic organizations, and philanthropists will find valuable. 

The sample of interviewees for this project was comprised of 70 individuals who were active across 31 states. These individuals represented 32 electoral campaigns, 18 501c4 organizations, 17 501c3 organizations, five PACs, three volunteer clubs, and two unions. Additionally, 30% of our sample were rural organizers and candidates of color. There are three times as many people of color as there are farmers in rural America, and it was important to reflect that commonly overlooked reality in our sample. 

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

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RuralOrganizing.org strongly supports passage of Dream and Promise Act and Farm Workforce Modernization Act

Columbus, OH — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will hold votes on the Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 8, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, H.R. 1603. 

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org in support of both bills:

Immigrants are valued members of our small towns and rural communities. They are our friends, our family, and our neighbors. That’s why we have their backs regardless of their status. We strongly support the passage of both the Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 8, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The bills, which provide a path to legal status and eventual citizenship to Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders, and farm workers, will have a positive impact on rural communities around the country. We strongly encourage all House members, particularly those with rural constituents, to support both bills. 

America would not have an agricultural industry without the contributions of undocumented workers - from the fields to the farms to the processing plants. In rural communities, we know how essential these folks are. During the pandemic, the rest of the nation realized it too. 

Dreamers, TPS holders, and farmworkers are living, working, and building families in our communities. We are stronger because of them. Now is the time for Congress to finally act to set them on the path to citizenship. 
 

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

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