Friends of John Delaney
Thursday, July 25, 2019
CONTACT: Carrie Healey

Delaney Discusses Importance of Equal Opportunity, Cities Fair Deal Plan at Urban League Conference in Indianapolis 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Speaking this morning at the Urban League’s annual conference in Indianapolis, John Delaney spoke out against injustice and inequality and outlined his ten-point Cities Fair Deal plan, which was released this morning. 
The plan is copied below:

John Delaney’s Cities Fair Deal

Urban populations are growing at a faster rate than the national average and a few fortunate areas are experiencing enormous prosperity. The five leading metropolitan areas accounted for more than 80 percent of total venture capital investments over the past decade. However, America's cities are also home to some of the starkest examples of economic inequality and many residents face a severe lack of opportunity. To address the needs of everyone who lives in an urban area, Delaney is proposing his 10-Point Cities Fair Deal Plan.
Residents of disadvantaged communities in urban areas are in urgent need of new investment. Delaney’s Cities Fair Deal will provide the urban renewal and reforms needed to ensure residents have the opportunities needed to improve their lives. 
The 10-point plan will have a focus on small businesses and entrepreneurs, who are central to urban revitalization. Cooperation between government and the private sector was essential in fostering entrepreneurship and the new economic activity that helped revitalize Detroit in the years since the city declared bankruptcy. Delaney’s policy encourages partnerships between the private sector, the government sector, and the nonprofit sector to collaboratively address access to health care and quality public education, improving infrastructure, and reforming criminal justice. 
The Cities Fair Deal provides a path for business leaders, community leaders, and civic leaders to work together and problem solve, ultimately offering their communities the best outcomes. 
A focus on small businesses and entrepreneurs is central to urban revitalization.
Delaney’s Cities Fair Deal includes 10 components:
  1. Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation opportunities
  2. Investing in small and minority-owned businesses
  3. Encouraging capital investment
  4. Building infrastructure
  5. Improving public education
  6. Reforming the criminal justice system
  7. Improving health care
  8. Ending disparities and predatory practices
  9. Ensuring a living wage
  10. Increasing access to affordable housing
1. Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation opportunities 

Before entering public service, Delaney was an entrepreneur and started two companies that went public on the New York Stock Exchange. He understands the transformation that entrepreneurs can make in communities through job creation and innovation. 
As President, Delaney will create an Entrepreneurship Czar who will serve as Special Advisor to the President and will be responsible for:
  • Creating policies to encourage entrepreneurship in urban communities that have been left behind by venture capital investment.
  • Engaging entrepreneurs to become involved in mentoring young entrepreneurs and creating individual entrepreneurship ecosystems in their communities;
  • Ensuring that government regulations don’t stifle entrepreneurship;
  • Helping the Administration significantly increase the government’s investment in basic research, particularly related to clean energy research and negative emission technology;
  • Driving pro-entrepreneur policies such as universal health care and immigration reform, and;
  • Driving reforms to the banking industry to encourage more small business lending.

2. Investing in small and minority-owned businesses

A lack of access to capital and basic financial services is limiting economic opportunity in struggling urban neighborhoods and increasing burdens on entrepreneurs. From 2008 to 2016, 82% of bank branch closures in the US took place in urban zip codes. Losing local bank branches is particularly damaging for small businesses and entrepreneurs in low-income neighborhoods, where the number of new small business loans declined by 13% in the years following a bank branch closure.

Delaney calls for the expansion of access to capital and policies to address inequality in investment opportunities.
  • In Congress, Delaney proposed legislation to create philanthropic nonprofit banks to increase access to banking services in distressed communities that for-profit banks neglect.
  • Ensure minority entrepreneurs have access to capital (an example is to create a new SBIC program to encourage entrepreneurship and focus venture capital investment to distressed communities).
  • Provide federal funding through a new grant program for business incubators and accelerators at HBCUs.

3. Encouraging capital investment 

Almost 18 million urban residents live in an economically distressed zip code, places where poverty and unemployment rates are high, incomes and high school graduation rates are low, and not enough jobs are being created. To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to live the American Dream, Delaney will leverage government resources to direct significant private sector investment to struggling communities in urban areas.
  • Delaney will give priority in government contracting to companies with a majority of employees located in economically struggling communities. Ensuring that the government supports businesses that are not in already-prosperous areas will promote economic growth in areas that have suffered due to globalization and automation.
  • Delaney supports opportunity zones, which encourage private investment in distressed communities by providing tax incentives on certain long-term investments. Investment from the private sector, supported by the right incentives, can turn around economically-struggling communities.

4. Building infrastructure

Investment in infrastructure is long overdue. Spending on infrastructure as a percentage of GDP has steadily dropped over the past several decades, and the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our infrastructure system a D+ grade. Not only is infrastructure funding necessary to improve the system, investing in rebuilding crumbling infrastructure is a job creator and will boost the economy. In cities, demand for public transportation has grown but the necessary investment to support the growing demand has not kept up. 
That is why Delaney has proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which will:
  • Establish five matching funds to provide federal support to state and local government investments in water infrastructure, school infrastructure, deferred maintenance projects, rural broadband, and infrastructure projects in disadvantaged communities in urban and rural areas. 
    • Creating a dedicated federal fund to be spent on infrastructure projects in disadvantaged urban communities will incentivize states to make the necessary investments in often overlooked areas.
  • Create an Infrastructure Bank to make it easier and cheaper for states and local governments to invest in local infrastructure.
  • Increase direct investment by the Highway Trust Fund, the main source of federal funding for roads and mass transit, by 50% over the next decade.
  • Create a Climate Infrastructure Fund to prioritize projects that will expand and improve climate resilient infrastructure in addition to improving energy efficiency in our systems.

5. Improving public education 

Education is the great equalizer. All students, however, don’t have access to the same quality of education. Children who live within the same city can have very unequal educational experiences.  Delaney wants to improve the educational experience for all students and enact policies that will ensure all students, regardless of income or zip code, have access to a meaningful education.
  • Pre-K: Studies show that children who attend Pre-K have better outcomes throughout their educational career with higher test scores, better language development, and fewer behavioral problems. To ensure all children have the opportunity to reap the benefits of expanded early education, Delaney has proposed a universal Pre-K program for every four-year-old in the United States.
  • School funding: Since public schools are funded primarily through property taxes, schools in lower-income areas receive fewer resources to prepare their students for the future. In 2016, the funding gap between predominantly white and predominantly black school districts was $23 billion. Additionally, the graduation rate at U.S. public high schools is 78% for black students versus 89% for white students.
    • To close the gap in public education, Delaney has proposed to increase funds to low-income schools through increases to Title I funding in addition to expanding federal grants for community-based programs focused on supporting and mentoring struggling students.
6. Reforming the criminal justice system 

There are far too many people imprisoned in America, and the racial disparities in our criminal justice system are shameful. African Americans, who are approximately 13% of the US population, make up 40% of the incarcerated population. Delaney was proud to support the First Step Act, but more needs to be done to reform our immoral criminal justice system.
  • End or limit the use of money bail in the federal criminal justice system and encourage states to pursue similar reforms. Cash bail is excessive, discriminatory, and costly for taxpayers and communities.
  • End for-profit prisons.
  • Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences.
  • Increase funding for public defenders.
  • End the death penalty.
  • Increase funding for police body cameras.
  • Promote “ban the box” policies.
  • Provide federal funding for training and support of police officers designed to prevent racial profiling and generally encourage de-escalation.
  • Reemphasize Obama-era DOJ oversight authorities of law enforcement practices that demonstrate a pattern of abuse or misconduct.
  • Remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and create strong federal guidelines and taxation policies to support decisions at the state level.
  • Increase federal support for recidivism reduction programs that have proven to be effective.
  • Increase funding for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program to increase community policing.
  • Increase funding for programs to ensure police departments and first responders are well funded, particularly in areas suffering from high crime rates.

7.  Improving healthcare

Delaney’s universal health care plan, BetterCare, provides all Americans health care as a right and creates a system that will guarantee access, improve quality, lower costs and maintain choice. Metropolitan areas are home to nearly 85% of the uninsured population. Delaney’s plan will improve health care in urban areas by ensuring universal coverage.
  • BetterCare will eliminate a clear barrier to accessing care and medical services by providing every American with a new public health care plan with no premiums, while preserving private insurance options. Individuals would be automatically enrolled in the new public plan at birth but be given an option to opt-out and receive a tax credit to purchase their own private insurance coverage should they so choose.
  • Delaney will require and enforce mental health parity within the health care system to ensure that individuals who need mental and behavioral health services have the same coverage and access as those who need physical health services
8.  Ending disparities and predatory practices

End Discrimination in Auto Insurance

Auto insurers regularly charge higher premiums to consumers who live in minority communities, low rates that can subsidize insurance for higher-income consumers who live in majority-white neighborhoods with the same average risk. This discrimination, which is similar to the racial discrimination in mortgage lending widely known as redlining, can lead to minority individuals paying up to 30% more for the same auto insurance coverage.
  • Delaney will support a federal ban on the use of credit history and other non-risk related factors, including micro-targeting practices like price optimization, to determine auto insurance premiums.
    • Massachusetts, Hawaii, and California bar insurers from considering credit history, and more than 15 states have implemented bans on price optimization.

Combat Predatory Tax Preparers

Low-income earners don’t have the support they need to navigate our complex tax code. The IRS allows people who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to file their taxes electronically for free, but due to misleading advertising, unfair business practices, and exorbitant fees EITC beneficiaries can spend as much as 22% of the value of their refund on tax preparation. Costly tax preparation services disproportionately target low-income customers, and high error rates on returns prepared by paid services cause EITC recipients to be audited more frequently than people earning up to $500,000.

To address discrimination in the tax preparation industry and protect consumers, Delaney will:
  • Create a fiduciary duty for paid tax preparers to reduce filing errors and prevent predatory business practices.
  • Expand eligibility for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which offers free tax assistance from IRS-certified volunteers, to include every tax filer who earns below the median national income, and increase funding for VITA grants to ensure people have access to this service.
  • Require tax preparation businesses to clearly state that free filing options are available for eligible individuals and families.
9.  Ensuring a living wage 

Every American worker deserves to earn a living wage. Delaney believes the right approach is to increase both the Earned Income Tax Credit and the federal minimum wage. Additionally, a true living wage should also account for paid family leave so that workers don’t have to choose between taking leave to care for their newborn or sick loved one and earning enough money to support their family.
  • Create a new Workers’ Tax Credit by doubling the existing Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program.
  • Raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and index it to inflation.
  • Create a universal paid family leave program that provides eligible individuals eight weeks of paid caregiving leave each year.
10. Increasing access to affordable housing

The cost of housing for both owners and renters continues to rise faster than incomes can keep pace, and it’s getting harder and harder for workers to live near their jobs. We need to increase the supply of affordable housing units and ensure that the housing finance market supports affordability. Delaney’s $125 billion affordable housing plan will increase federal investment, deter local policies that prevent the construction of new affordable housing units, and help low-income families afford rent and stay in their homes.
  • Delaney will increase funding for the Housing Trust Fund, which supports the construction, maintenance, and operation of affordable rental housing, to a minimum of $7 billion annually.
  • Delaney will create a new annual $5 billion affordable housing grant program that provides additional funding to housing agencies in states and municipalities that remove zoning restrictions that limit the construction of affordable multifamily housing.
  • Delaney will create a right to counsel for eviction procedures and provide an annual $500 million in federal funding to secure legal representation for low-income renters.
  • Delaney will address homelessness by increasing funding for the Homelessness Assistance Grant program and the VA’s Grant and Per Diem account.