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The Mechanics
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Budget Fri Apr 09 2010

The Responsible Budget Coalition and Special Interests

Probably the most difficult type of organizing is what's known as "coalition politics", pulling together existing organizations to move a grassroots program. The conflicting ideologies and tactics of different groups, differentials in resources, and often hard to manage personalities make coalition politics immensely frustrating. This makes the continued existence--and, in fact, progress--of the Responsible Budget Coalition particularly surprising.

It is also eye-opening. There is often a lazy false equivalence between left and right "special interest groups" when it comes to public spending; anti-tax zealots like to stoke resentment of "public employee unions" as a means to pressure legislators to slash public spending. Take a look at the RBC's roster of organizations and consider if these "special interests" are equivalent to large profit seeking firms that fund the "cut to the bone" think tanks and political funds:

AARP Illinois ~ A Safe Haven ~ Access Living ~ Action Now ~ Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc. ~ AFSCME Council 31 ~ AFSCME Retirees Chapter 31 ~ AIDS Foundation of Chicago ~ Albany Park Neighborhood Council ~ Allendale Association ~ Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County ~ Alternative Schools Network ~ Alternatives, Inc. ~ Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 ~ Anixter Center ~ Arts Alliance Illinois ~ Bethany for Children & Families ~ Bethel New Life ~ Better Funding for Better Schools Coalition ~ Business and Professional People for the Public Interest ~ Carole Robertson Center for Learning ~ Center for Economic Progress ~ Center for Tax and Budget Accountability ~ Centers for New Horizons ~ Chestnut Health Systems ~ Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation ~ Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness ~ Chicago Chapter Coalition of Labor Union Women ~ Chicago Coalition for the Homeless ~ Chicago Coalition of Site Administered Child Care Programs~ Chicago Democratic Socialists of America ~ Chicago Jobs Council ~ Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers ~ Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network ~ Children's Home + Aid ~ ChildServ ~ Circle Family HealthCare Network ~ Circles of Learning ~ Citizen Action/Illinois ~ Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of Illinois ~ Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois ~ Community Behavioral Healthcare Association ~ Community Counseling Center of Northern Madison County ~ Community Health Partnership of Illinois ~ Community Renewal Society ~ Connections for Abused Women and their Children ~ Cornerstone Services, Inc. ~ Counseling Center of Lake View ~ Deborah's Place ~ Delta Center, Inc. ~ ED-RED (Education - Research - Development) ~ 8th Day Center for Justice ~ El Valor Corporation ~ Emergency Fund ~ Equip for Equality ~ Erie Neighborhood House ~ Esperanza Community Services ~ Faculty Advisory Council of the Illinois Board of Higher Education ~ Families' and Children's Aids Network ~ Family Focus ~ FEATHERFIST ~ Federation for Community Schools ~ First Step Day Care ~ First Step Learning, Inc. ~ FITE Center for Independent Living ~ 4-C: Community Coordinated Child Care ~ Gads Hill Center ~ Good News Community Kitchen ~ Good Shepherd Center ~ Grassroots Collaborative ~ Greene County Health Department ~ Grow Your Own Illinois ~ Health and Disability Advocates ~ Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights ~ Hesed House/PADS, Inc. ~ HMPRG Center for Long Term Care Reform ~ Home of Life M.B. Church ~ Housing Action Illinois ~ Housing Opportunities for Women ~ Housing Options of Evanston ~ ICIRR ~ IFF ~ Illinois Action for Children ~ Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention ~ Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans ~ Illinois Assistive Technology Program ~ Illinois Association for Gifted Children ~ Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies ~ Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, Inc. ~ Illinois Association of School Nurses ~ Illinois Association of School Social Workers ~ Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, Inc. ~ Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health ~ Illinois Center for Violence Prevention ~ Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights ~ Illinois Education Association ~ Illinois Federation of Teachers ~ Illinois Library Association ~ Illinois Library Systems Director's Organization ~ Illinois Maternal & Child Health Coalition ~ Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living ~Illinois Valley Center for Independent Living ~ IMPACT CIL ~ INCCRRA ~ ~ Inspiration Corporation ~ Interdependent Living Solutions Center ~ Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs ~Jacksonville Area Center for Independent Living ~ Jane Addams Hull House Association ~ Jewish Council on Urban Affairs ~ Kiddie Kollege of Fairfield, Inc. ~ Lake County Center for Independent Living ~ Lake County Housing Action Coalition ~ Lakeside Community Development Corporation ~ Large Unit District Association ~ Latino Consortium ~ Latino Organization of the Southwest ~ Latino Policy Forum ~ League of Women Voters Illinois ~League of Women Voters of Wheaton, IL ~ Legislative Education Network of DuPage ~ Lewis & Clark Library System ~ Liberated Inc. ~ LIFE Center for Independent Living ~ Lifelink Corporation ~ LINC INC ~ Logan Square Neighborhood Association ~ Lutheran Advocacy-Illinois ~ Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois ~ Lutheran Social Services of Illinois ~ Madison County Continuum of Care ~ Marillac Social Center ~ McHenry Co. Latino Coalition ~ Mujeres Latinas en Acción ~ NAMI Illinois ~ NAMI of Greater Chicago ~ National Association of Social Workers Illinois Chapter ~ New Foundation Center, Inc. ~ North Suburban Teachers Union (IFT/AFT Local 1274)~ North Suburban Library System ~ Northwest Neighborhood Federation ~ Older Women's League (OWL) ~ OWL Northeast Chicago Chapter ~ Opportunities for Access ~ Ordinary People NFP ~ Ounce of Prevention Fund ~PACE, Inc. Center for Independent Living ~ ParentsWork ~ Peace and Justice Committee ~ Pediatric Aids Chicago Prevention Initiative ~ Planned Parenthood of Illinois ~Polish American Association ~ Prevention First ~ Project IRENE ~ Project Oz ~ Protestants for the Common Good ~ Proveedores en Acción para Nuestros Niños ~ ~Renaissance Women ~ Rosecrance Health Network ~ Safer Foundation ~ St. Vincent De Paul Center ~ Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law ~ SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana ~ SEIU Illinois Council ~ Self Advocacy Council of Northern Illinois ~ SHORE Community Services, Inc. ~ Society of the Holy Child Jesus ~ South Asian Progressive Action Collective ~ South Cooperative Organization for Public Education ~ SouthSTAR Services ~ Southwest Youth Collaborative ~ Springfield Center for Independent Living ~ Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois ~ Supporting Illinois Brothers and Sisters ~ Supportive Housing Providers Association ~ TASC, Inc. ~ Test Positive Aware Network ~ The ARC of Illinois ~ The Center ~ The Hope Institute for Children and Families ~ The Night Ministry ~ The Resurrection Project ~ Thresholds ~ Through A Child's Eyes Pre-K Program ~ Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice ~ UNITE HERE Local 1 ~ United African Organization ~ United Power for Action and Justice ~ Voices for Illinois Children ~ Western Illinois University Faculty Senate ~ Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living ~ Women Employed ~ Women + Girls Collective Action Network ~ Youth Guidance ~ Youth Network Council ~Youth Organizations Umbrella ~ YWCA Metropolitan Chicago ~ YWCAs Illinois ~ Zion Development Corporation

All parties affected have a right to advocate for their vision of an effective government; I'm not even saying that these organizations are somehow "better" simply because they aren't profit-seeking. But certainly we can agree that given their missions, resources, and constituencies, these groups are not the same type of "special interest" as, say, the Manufacturer's Association, which is committed to defending the market share and profits of their constituent firms and their shareholders; and which is dominated not by small business owners but rather the largest firms in the state.

 
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Scarlett Swerdlow / April 10, 2010 6:27 PM

Thank you for drawing attention to this diverse and strong coalition. Arts Alliance Illinois, where I work, joined the Responsible Budget Coalition because Illinois communities can't wait for a budget that fully funds the entire spectrum of vital services. Artists and arts groups make important contributions to our neighborhoods, schools, and even the economy. We're proud to be part of a coalition that recognizes and helps fight for these contributions. It's going to take all of us working together to solve Illinois' problems.

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