We believe that all people should be treated fairly and with dignity in all aspects of life, regardless of race, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, ability or country of origin. Discrimination must be eliminated in our schools, communities and workplaces. Virginia Organizing leaders speak out against discrimination of all kinds whether it be fighting against housing discrimination in Richmond, fighting for increased accessibility in Fluvanna County or supporting gay rights in Roanoke.
We believe that we should enhance and celebrate diversity in our community and in our state.
Budget and Tax Reform
We strive to work towards a long-term solution that restores balance to the state’s budget and tax structure.
We do not support further budget cuts to vital services like education, transportation and public safety. When we cut our state’s infrastructure and services to the bone, it keeps our economy from moving forward.
Additionally, we support progressive tax reform. Virginia’s tax structure is “old and rusty” and is in need of modernization. Low- and middle-income families in Virginia pay a higher share of their income in state and local taxes than do the richest families. We are all making sacrifices in this financial climate and we should not be paying a higher percentage of our income to taxes than the wealthiest Americans.
Virginia has a regressive and unbalanced state tax structure that relies too much on sales taxes that disproportionately impact low and middle income families as well as an almost flat income tax in which not all taxpayers pay their fair share. This tax structure needs to be changed.
We are dedicated to encouraging civic engagement and empowering people in local communities to address issues that affect the quality of their lives. Virginia Organizing especially encourages the participation of those who have traditionally had little or no voice in our society. By building relationships with individuals and groups throughout the state, Virginia Organizing strives to help them to work collaboratively together, democratically and non-violently, for change.
We work toward this end so that those who have positions of authority in our governmental bodies, law enforcement agencies and institutions of learning will reflect the diversity of our communities. We organize meetings, actions and campaigns so that our public officials will be held accountable. We believe in the rights of workers, consumers, shareholders and taxpayers to democratic self-organization.
We believe that every person in the Commonwealth is entitled to a living wage and benefit package that is sufficient to provide the basic necessities of life, including adequate housing, a nutritious diet, proper child care, sound mental and physical health care, a secure retirement and an equal educational opportunity.
We believe in eliminating the extremes of wealth and poverty. We strive towards a common sense, responsible, progressive tax system based on the ability to pay. By bringing communities together, we fight for jobs, fair wages and equality in the workplace.
Virginia Organizing works with coalition partners on a number of different environmental issues. We support the work of organizations fighting for clean air and clean water for the Commonwealth. We support green jobs as a way of bringing employment to the state and bringing us closer to energy independence. We believe in enacting common sense solutions to environmental problems whether it means providing CFL light bulbs to low income communities in central Virginia or opposing harmful mountaintop removal in Southwest.
Virginia Organizing has identified access to health care as one of the major issues facing its members and other residents in their communities. We continue to work on improving access to quality, affordable health care for all Virginians.
Over the last two years, we have been part the largest health care campaign in the country, Health Care for America Now. We joined with hundreds of organizations nationwide to fight for affordable, accessible health care for all Americans.
Virginia Organizing strongly supports the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and has made a major commitment to educate the public about its benefits.
The Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, gives Virginians better health security by putting in place comprehensive health insurance reforms that hold insurance companies accountable, lower health care costs, guarantee more choice, and enhance the quality of care for all Americans.
Already, the people of Virginia are seeing the new benefits and protections of the law. We are working to make sure that the law is implemented in a way that will provide care for the uninsured and take into account the needs of health care consumers.
We need comprehensive immigration reform. But the change we need won’t happen without support from the White House and Congressional leadership, communities of immigrants, advocates, faith, business and labor and activists.
Our vision of reform includes immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens working shoulder to shoulder to achieve better wages, working conditions, and labor protections—making sure everyone is playing by the same set of rules so that it is harder for unscrupulous employers to cheat immigrants, thus making it more difficult for any workers to be cheated. We need to build faith in our immigration system so that people respect the process and the process respects them. That’s our vision for a stronger America.
As the Administration and Congress prepare to begin debating immigration reform, we urge that the following principles guide our policymakers:
• Immigration reform must promote economic opportunity.
• Immigration reform must be comprehensive.
• Long-term reform requires long-term solutions.
For a number of years, Virginia Organizing has joined with many other organizations in urging the members of the Virginia General Assembly to stop predatory lenders and the financial trap they set for people in dire financial straights.
In 2008 a payday loan bill was enacted with provisions that fell far short of what we wanted at the time as it only helped reduce, not stop abusive financial practices of payday lenders. However, our efforts to end predatory lending in Virginia continue because predatory car title loans and open-ended loans simply took over where payday loans left off.
In 2010, the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation providing some reforms to car title lending, helping protect consumers from this financial trap. The legislation was not perfect due to the high interest rates permitted, but was considered a major victory because it included time limits on the loans, interest rate caps, notices before cars can be repossessed, more information provided to borrowers and licensing requirements for lenders.
Virginia Organizing joins organizations throughout the Commonwealth in supporting a 36% interest rate cap on all loans in Virginia, a measure that will end predatory lending once and for all.
The Virginia Main Street Alliance, an initiative of Virginia Organizing, is a coalition of Virginia small business owners working to build a new voice on issues that matter to our businesses and our communities. Our members include both small employers and self-employed business owners, with a diverse representation of business types, race, gender and geography. We bring small business values into the public dialogue to advance policies that are good for small businesses, our employees and the communities that sustain us.
• We believe there’s more to success in small business than the short-term bottom line. Small business values run deeper than that.
• We believe small businesses thrive when communities thrive – our fates are linked.
• We believe small business owners aren’t getting represented like we deserve in Washington, DC or in Richmond and we’re setting about to change that.
Virginia Main Street Alliance members were active in contacting Virginia’s members of congress during the health care debate to make sure that the interests of Virginia’s small businesses were protected. We are now focused on educating small Virginia’s businesses about the plan, including the tax credits for small businesses that provide health insurance. Plus, we are working with allies to make sure that implementation of the plan is effective and helpful for small businesses.
Some politicians in Washington are working to end Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as we know them. They want to cut Social Security benefits and raise the retirement age. The House of Representatives recently passed a budget that would turn Medicare over to insurance companies and slash funding for Medicaid, the program that serves lower-income seniors, women, children and people with disabilities.
Social Security belongs to the people who have worked hard all their lives and contributed to it. It is a promise that must not be broken. If you pay in, then you earn the right to benefits. We need to strengthen Social Security, not cut it. That is why Virginia Organizing opposes any cuts to Social Security benefits, including increasing the retirement age. Virginia Organizing also opposes including Social Security in any deficit-reduction plan. Social Security does not contribute a penny to the deficit; it should not be cut to reduce the deficit.