Who was visit with? - Anti

The Anti-Poverty Network
of NJ
Visiting Your Legislators:
Balancing the Scales of Justice
Your Presenters
 Joyce Campbell, Catholic Charities,
Diocese of Trenton
 Arnold Cohen, Housing and Community
Development Network of NJ
 Diane Riley, Community Food Bank of NJ
 Ray Castro, NJ Policy Perspective
“There is a mystique surrounding advocacy – that you have to be
an expert on your issue, or an expert in the way the process
works. Not so. … Advocacy is like anything else: beginners are
not expected to know as much as professionals, and the more
you do it the easier it gets.”
Nancy Amidei, in “So You Want to Make a Difference: Advocacy is
the Key!”
An Historical Overview
•People have throughout history , recognizing
power in numbers, gathered in groups to
influence public policy
•In this country our involvement is firmly
grounded in our nation’s founding principles.
Our Constitution protects our rights to
assemble and petition our government.
•Abraham Lincoln called us to be dedicated “to
the great task” of ensuring that “government
of the people, by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.”
You’re Already an Advocate
The simple truth is: Advocacy is easy. That’s right, it’s easy. Anyone can do
it. How easy is it? Well, the highly-paid professionals don’t want this to
get out, but it is so easy that even a first grader can do it!
Advocacy Lesson #1: Advocacy Happens Everywhere
First Graders:
Although first graders don’t use terms like “advocacy” or “lobby,” their conversations
reveal they practice advocacy all the time, including:
at home: “I got my mom to let me stay up late last night to watch that movie”
in the classroom: “We got our teacher to give us an extra 10 minutes for lunch”
We already advocate (convince, educate, explain, persuade, support, etc.) before a
variety of audiences, including:
funders: we persuade them to invest in our ideas and programs
volunteers: we motivate them to continue to give their time and energy
If nonprofits are as smart as first graders, then we will remember that advocacy
happens everywhere there are people, so don’t assume we have to live at the
Legislature to be an advocate.
Good to Know…The NJ Scene
 There are 40 legislative districts in the state.
 The State Legislature consists of Forty Senators and
Eighty Assemblymen/women.
 Each of us has a State Senator and Two Assembly
 Senators and Assembly representatives are assigned
to committees and the committees do the bulk of the
work of reviewing proposed legislation and regulatory
 The Budget Committees of both houses have the
most influence over the budget.
Good to Know…The NJ Scene
 The State of NJ budget year is July 1 of the current year to June
30 of the following year
 We are currently in Fiscal Year 2014 or FY14. The budget
proposed by the Governor at the end of February is for FY 15,
which will go from July 1, 2014 to June 30,2015.
 The state budget must be balanced, unlike the Federal
Government where a deficit can be recognized
 The Governor generally proposes a state budget in late
 The State Legislature holds hearings between and meets with
stakeholders and constituents to hear their concerns and
recommendations regarding the proposal
Good to Know…The NJ Scene
For more information on the legislative
process in New Jersey visit:
You can also find your legislators there,
follow bills through the legislature and
view a schedule of hearings.
Many of us think that lobbying is a
mysterious rite that takes years to master. It
isn‘t You can learn how to lobby – whom to
call, when, what to say – in minutes.
While there are a few simple reporting rules
your organization needs to follow, it isn’t
complicated. Countless numbers of people
have learned how.”
--from “Ten Reasons to Lobby for Your Cause,” Center for
Lobbying in the Public Interest
Face to Face Visits
It’s Easier Than You Think
First Things First:
 It is very important to schedule an appointment and be prepared
for the visit. Don’t show up unexpected.
 Sometimes it will take several calls and persistence to get an
appointment scheduled. Some offices will accept a request by
telephone, others want faxes or e-mails. Legislators tend to be
very busy so try to be flexible with the dates and times you are
available. And, don’t be surprised if a visit gets cancelled at the
last minute.
 Most appointments last about 20 minutes, sometimes half an
hour. So, you need to be prepared to be concise and specific,
and you need to be on time.
 Dress appropriately for an appointment with a legislator. You
don’t need to be too fancy, but don’t wear jeans or sweatpants.
Making the Call
I am _________________________ from (your organization, located in-----).
If you are a constituent of the legislator you should add this here:
I am also a constituent of Senator/Assemblyman____________
Our organization is/I am an active member of the Anti-Poverty Network of
NJ, which is a network of faith based groups, social service agencies,
advocacy organizations and people living in poverty. Our Network’s
mission is to reduce poverty in NJ.
I would like to arrange a visit with Senator/Assemblyman
_________________so that I and a few of our members can share the
Network’s concerns about those living in poverty in District _________.
More specifically, we would like to housing, hunger and income supports
for those individuals and families who struggle to make ends meet.
Face to Face Visits
Be Prepared
Good preparation involves:
 Knowing where the legislator stands on the issue
 Being ready to explain the issue as legislators can’t know all the
bills and issues
 Being ready to explain how the bill or issue will affect you and
others in the legislator’s district
 As you prepare with others think about who has what pieces of
information that will be important
 Who has a personal story?
 Who can share how the issue impacts people or programs?
 Who has a relationship with the legislator already?
 Who may be knowledgeable about the specific bill and can
advise the legislator about some of the details of the bill
Face to Face Visits
Be Prepared
Good preparation involves:
 It’s good to assign “roles” prior to the visit. One person can be
the facilitator, who makes sure everyone has a chance to speak,
one person can share their story, and another can provide data
and statistics. Pick out a role that is comfortable for you.
 Decide together the key points you want to make
 Decide who will make “the ask”, i.e. asking for where the
elected official stands on the issue
 Have your leave behind packet ready and be sure you include
everyone’s name and contact information.
Prepare YOUR Story
“Numbers numb, jargon jars
and no one ever marched on
Washington because of a pie
chart…Tell stories.”
Andy Goodman (Good Ideas for a Good Cause)
The Visit
 Begin your meeting with reference to the white
paper and basic background about APN
You will be provided talking points as well as
suggestions for a leave behind packet
All documents will be online
Be polite, don’t interrupt, and don’t argue with
each other or the legislator.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, that’s
fine. Let them know you will find out the answer
and get back to them.
After you make the ask, and before leaving, ask
how you can be of any help to them. Perhaps
there is more information the legislator would like.
Legislative Visit Forms
 District:_________
APN Coordinator:_______________
 Legislator:______________________ Party:________________
 Office Address :_________________________________
Phone: _________________
Leadership Position:_____________________________________
Committee(s): __________________________________________
Significant Information (past positions, support, votes, etc.):
Who was visit with?__________________________
Response to
Follow Up Needed:
Follow up with a Thank You note, and any information that
you promised to provide.
A Call to Invest in the People of NJ
 For a NJ family of 4 “getting by” and attaining a secure yet
modest living standard requires an income of around $80,000.
However, the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is currently estimated
at $23,050 (total yearly income) or a family of four.
 The 2012 American Community Survey (ACS) data shows that
New Jersey’s middle class is worse off and poverty is deepening
for already-poor families. There is a greater share of low-income
households (annual incomes below $50,000) with more than
one in three households falling into this category.
 Because of the state’s lagging economy, New Jersey was one
of only five states to see any increase in the poverty rate for
families from 2011 to 2012. (ACS)
A Call to Invest in the People of NJ
 Twenty five percent of all residents over age 65 are living in
poverty, or on the edge of poverty just one step away from their
own fiscal cliff. Without real solutions to address poverty in our
communities more NJ residents will be aging into poverty. (NJ
Elder Index)
 College educated young people discover that the availability of
jobs is limited and entry-level incomes do not allow them to live
independently after graduation.
The time is now for Trenton to set policies
that support poor communities to
overcome barriers of poverty.
 49 million Food Insecure
 16 million Children – 1 in 5 of all children
 1 million New Jersey
 400,000 Children Food Insecure
50% rent
36% medicine
33% transportation
49% utilities
Government Programs
 SNAP (Food Stamps)
 School Lunch and
Low Participation
ONLY 36 %
Eligible Students Participate
Budget Recommendation
Restore a $3 million cut to the
school breakfast program
Incentive schools adopt more effective models of
serving breakfast.
SNAP (Food Stamps)
More than Doubled
6 years
10% of Population
NOVEMBER 1, 2013
JUNE 2014
Leverage Federal Funding
Match 50%
Every 1.00 =
1.73 in Economic Growth
Government Support
Food Distribution
(The Emergency Food
Assistance Program)
Everyone needs a safe and
affordable home.
A safe, decent and affordable home
will help address other critical issues
such as education and health care
How can we increase the supply of
these homes?
A) Build and renovate for new housing
B) Rental assistance or increased incomes so
people can afford existing homes.
Create more housing opportunities
for low income people by passing
two bills in the State Legislature.
 Turn some of the tens of thousands
foreclosed home in NJ into housing
people can afford.
 Pass S.693/A475
 Create a fund to help non-profits and
government address foreclosures by charging
$800 when foreclosure complaints are filed.
 Pass A1994.
 Expand New Jersey's state rental assistance
program (SRAP) to serve more than the
current 4,000 families.
 Use the NJ Affordable Housing Trust to fund
building and rehab of homes for people of
lower incomes.
Other ways to increase the supply
of homes people can afford:
 New Jersey's Fair Housing Law has help
provide housing for 60,000 lower income
families since its implementation. We need
this to continue under an independent state
Everyone in New Jersey
Needs a Well-Paid and Secure Job
But How Can We Work
to Make That Happen?
 We were successful in raising the minimum wage to
$8.25 an hour but it did not include tipped workers
who receive only a minimum wage of $2.13 an hour.
Tipped workers should receive 70% of the minimum
wage that salaried workers receive.
 Also, $8.25 an hour is still below the $10 an hour
which is needed to raise the minimum wage to the
level it was in the 1960’s, adjusting for inflation.
 Federal legislation is pending which would increase it
nationally to that level as well as set the level for
tipped workers at 70 percent of the minimum wage.
 Raising the minimum wage is good for the economy,
as it spurs consumer spending.
The Earned Income Tax Credit is an essential tool that eases the tax
burden on low-income families and promotes work.
Low-income families disproportionately spend more in taxes than
other families, and therefore need relief.
The EITC also stimulates the economy because, unlike the wealthy,
low-income families must spend their income right away to maintain
their independence.
The governor says he supports an EITC increase but he will not
agree to it unless there is a broader tax cut.
Families have already lost $250 million in EITC since 2010 when the
EITC was reduced.
Childless adults also receive much less than they should in the EITC
which would be remedied by the President’s proposal.
New Jersey has the highest long term unemployment rate in the
nation. It’s 2013 annual unemployment rate, 8.2%, is better than 2010
but still higher than the national average. Nearly a half-million
residents are without a job and looking for work.
The state should prioritize direct training and education for the
unemployed, not corporate tax breaks, to spur job creation.
WorkFirst NJ provides some education and training, but over half of all
parents in families below the poverty level are not eligible for the
program. The eligibility level should be increased so more parents can
receive job training and work supports like child care.
New Jersey should study training programs that have been shown to
be cost-effective in other states and implement them here.
We should also start with children by expanding preschool from 35
districts to the remaining 96 where most of the remaining poor
students live.