NewDEAL and New Dems Launch ‘2024 Freedom Agenda’




Emma Weir, (New Dems)

Jonathan Dworkin, (NewDEAL)

DATE: November 15th, 2023

NewDEAL and New Dems Launch

‘2024 Freedom Agenda’

Leading Democratic organizations unveil framework for 2024 elections focusing on Freedom of Opportunity; Freedom in Communities; and Freedom through Democracy

Washington, DC ––  Today, NewDEAL and the New Democrat Coalition launched their joint 2024 Freedom Agenda, which shows how Democrats from city councils to state legislators to Congress are fighting to protect Americans’ fundamental freedoms and expand opportunities, while Republicans continue to sow chaos, extremism, and division at every level of government.

The agenda emphasizes that everyone should have “the chance to achieve the American Dream and the ability to make deeply personal decisions without government interference, while feeling safe, secure, and welcomed in every corner of our country.”

“At every level of government, Democrats are demonstrating that we are the true defenders of Americans’ fundamental freedoms,” said New Democrat Coalition Chair Annie Kuster (NH-02). “I’m excited to announce this freedom agenda alongside NewDEAL Leaders, which will guide our policy agenda and help Democrats take back the House majority in 2024. While far-right Republicans continue to attack freedom, our Members are working to expand it––from the freedom to vote in free and fair elections to the freedom to make personal reproductive decisions and the freedom to live safely in your community.”

“Freedom is at the foundation of what it means to be a Democrat and is a core value of NewDEAL and New Dems,” said Debbie Cox Bultan, CEO of NewDEAL. “Republican extremists insist on the government restricting all aspects of life, from what books people can read to women’s health care decisions. The Freedom Agenda shows why Americans are increasingly rejecting extremism and embracing the pragmatic, solutions-oriented ideas of NewDEAL Leaders and New Dems.”

The 2024 Freedom Agenda has three primary components: Freedom of Opportunity; Freedom in Communities; and Freedom through Democracy.

The agenda states: “While Republicans work to roll back essential freedoms, New Dems and NewDEAL Leaders are fighting tooth and nail to fortify Americans’ rights and create economic opportunities, while working in a bipartisan way at every opportunity.”

Read the full 2024 Freedom Agenda here.


Readout of Senior Leadership Meeting with NewDEAL Leaders

White House | Readout of Senior Leadership Meeting with NewDEAL Leaders


Yesterday, Tom Perez, Senior Advisor to the President & Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Stefanie Feldman, Assistant to the President, Staff Secretary, and Director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, Gene Sperling, Senior Advisor to the President and American Rescue Plan Coordinator, Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor to the President, and Dr. Paul Friedrichs, Director of the Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response met with legislative leaders of the NewDEAL. The NewDEAL is a network of pro-growth progressive state and local elected officials, which includes school board members, councilmembers, county executives, mayors, state legislators, and statewide leaders.

Leaders from over thirty-six states discussed ways the Biden-Harris Administration is making historic investments in their communities through the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act.

The group highlighted opportunities for continued partnership between the federal government and state and local leadership to leverage these historic investments to create and expand opportunities for working families across the country.

Attendees included:

  • State Representative Arturo Alonso- Sandoval (D-OK)
  • Chief City Auditor Dorcey Applyrs (D-NY)
  • State Senator Sydney Batch (D-NC)
  • Mayor Lacey Beaty (D-OR)
  • Councilmember Thomas Beckius (D-NE)
  • State Delegate Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (D-VA)
  • State Representative Salman Bhojani (D-TX)
  • State Delegate Adrian Boafo (D-MD)
  • Assemblymember Alexander Bores (D-NY)
  • State Representative Joshua Boschee (D-ND)
  • State Representative Ben Bowman (D-OR)
  • Mayor Luke Bronin (D-CT)
  • State Senator Michael Brooks (D-OK)
  • County Supervisor Laura Capps (D-CA0
  • State Senator Jay Chaudhuri (D-NC)
  • State Representative Ashton Clemmons (D-NC)
  • State Representative Kristen Cloutier (D-ME)
  • State Representative Nicole Clowney (D-AR)
  • State Senator Christine Cohen (D-AR)
  • Treasurer Zach Conine (D-NV)
  • State Representative Maxine Dibert (D-AK)
  • School Board Member Carrie Douglass (D-OR)
  • State Senator Bob Duff (D-CT)
  • State Senator Royce Duplessis (D-LA)
  • State Senator Sarah Elfreth (D-MD)
  • State Representative Phillip Ensler (D-AL)
  • State Representative Kate Farrar (D-CT)
  • Mayor Cassie Franklin (D-WA)
  • School Board Member Danielle Gonzales (D-NM)
  • State Representative Jeremy Gray (D-AL)
  • State Representative Krista Griffith (D-DE)
  • State Senator Chris Hansen (D-CO)
  • Mayor Lee Harris (D-TN)
  • State Representative Scott Holcomb (D-GA)
  • State Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D-FL)
  • County Commissioner Natalia Macker (D-WY)
  • City Councilmember Andria McClellan (D-VA)
  • State Representative Joanna McClinton (D-PA)
  • Mayor Lauren McLean (D-ID)
  • County Executive Matt Meyer (D-DE)
  • Mayor Jon Mitchell (D-MA)
  • State Representative Robert Morgan (D-IL)
  • State Representative Philip Olaleye (D-GA)
  • State Senator Elena Parent (D-GA)
  • State Representative Marvin Pendarvis (D-SC)
  • State Senator Rebecca Perkins Kwoka (D-NH)
  • State Senator Aaron Rouse (D-VA)
  • Mayor Caroline Simmons (D-CT)
  • Mayor Zeb Smathers (D-NC)
  • State Representative Megan Srinivas (D-IA)
  • State Senator Clarke Tucker (D-AR)
  • State Representative Cristin Vahey (D-CT)
  • State Senator Zach Wahls (D-IA)
  • Supervisor James Walkinshaw (D-VA)
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger (D-VT)
  • Mayor Brandon Whipple (D-KS)
  • State Representative Matt Wilhelm (D-NH)

POLITICO Exclusive: Democrats Want to Reclaim ‘Freedom’ In 2024


By Zach Montellaro


A group of moderate Democrats — the New Democrat Coalition in Congress and the NewDEAL, a group focused on state and local officials — are rolling out their “2024 Freedom Agenda.” It wraps several planks of the Democratic Party — protecting abortion and LGBTQ rights, advocating for gun control, defending democracy — under a broader message looking to recapture a word Republicans have tried to monopolize.

“We’re calling it a ‘freedom agenda’ and really leaning in on freedom,” said Kuster, the chair of the New Dems, “so that it’s the Democratic brand that’s carrying freedom, because people have been losing their freedoms to an extreme ideology across the board.”

Their message, shared first with Huddle, gives you a good idea of what the party wants to run on in 2024. A sizable chunk of frontline Democrats are New Dems and will make or break a potential Democratic majority next year.

The organizations say their new agenda can help the party attract the voters they need for the party to be successful in 2024 — not just the Democratic base, but the swingy suburban voters who have decided presidential races and the fight for control of Congress in recent years.

“This election in 2024, we’re going to need to build a broad coalition that is not just Democrats, but … center and center-right, even. People who are appalled by the rising chaos and extremism and even political violence on the right,” said Debbie Cox Bultan, NewDEAL’s chief executive officer.

Kuster said that she hoped the agenda would serve as a guidepost for her members’ messaging heading into next year. The agenda “makes it easier to share with people, it makes it easier for our members to use it,” she said. “With two wars, and democracy being threatened around the globe and right here at home, and 91 indictments, it’s hard to get through to our constituency.”

Read the 2024 Freedom Agenda here.

NewDEAL Leaders Across the Country Call on Congress to Fund the Government, Avoid Shutdown

NewDEAL Leaders Across the Country Call on Congress to
Fund the Government, Avoid Shutdown

Washington, DC (November 14, 2023)– With a new federal government shutdown looming, NewDEAL Leaders – a selective network of 200 state and local Democratic leaders – today called upon Congress to avoid an unnecessary and harmful government shutdown now or in the coming months by reaching a federal spending agreement in line with the deal made during the debt ceiling negotiations from earlier this year. 

“It’s vital for Congress to do its job and fund the government to avoid a catastrophic shutdown,” said NewDEAL CEO Debbie Cox Bultan. “A shutdown would have devastating and far-reaching consequences for state and local services and everyday families who depend on a functioning federal government. The health of our economy is at stake. This is a political game we just can’t afford. That’s why NewDEAL is calling on Congress to follow through on its commitments over the summer, quickly reach a responsible funding agreement, and get back to the business of serving the American people.”

NewDEAL’s state and local leaders have worked tirelessly to advance pragmatic, pro-growth policies that accelerate economic progress, improve infrastructure, and expand affordable housing using federal investments – but the political dysfunction in Washington threatens to slow down this critical work, from state houses to city councils and beyond.

Here’s what NewDEAL Leaders are saying about a potential government shutdown:

Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond, VA:

“Cities can’t shut down. Failure to fund the government would be devastating for Richmonders – especially Richmonders who are most in need of social services. In Richmond, tens of thousands of residents rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, and other federal benefits programs – all of which could be directly affected by a government shutdown. Shutting down the government is a dangerous risk, a risk Richmonders can’t afford. …Congress needs to leave the politics at the door and do its job to avoid a shutdown. Not for the sake of themselves, but for the sake of tens of thousands of Richmonders that would be directly impacted by Congress’ inaction.” 

Mayor Cavalier Johnson, Milwaukee, WI:

“Congress has got to act to make sure there is no government shutdown. Here in Milwaukee, there are a number of Social Security offices and people who rely on Social Security who don’t want interruptions to the services that people receive. What’s more, the U.S. Foreign Service just recently opened an office right here in the city of Milwaukee. We don’t want that office to be shuttered. We don’t want the people who earn wages working for the federal government to not be able to get those dollars, bring them home, and spend those dollars in our economy, supporting jobs on the ground in Milwaukee. There’s a lot at stake if there’s a government shutdown and we don’t want negative things to happen to our economy or our people. Congress, you’ve got to act to make sure there is no government shutdown.”

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, New Mexico:

“Coming from a state that is hugely dependent on the federal government for a significant part of our economy, between our national laboratories, our Armed Forces bases, and other agencies based [in New Mexico], not only would a shutdown affect the entire country but real people who live and work here. We have a lot of wonderful things about the state of New Mexico but also a lot of challenges. The economic impact to our states in particular – or any state – that really, truly relies on the federal government for a significant aspect of its economy and for those individuals who are employed by the federal government, could be potentially devastating. If for no other reason than thinking about the people – the mothers, the fathers, the children who are caring for parents — who are going to be directly impacted in the ability to sustain their livelihoods, there are so many reasons [to avoid a shutdown], but that is a big one here for our state.”

State Senator Phil Olaleye, District 59, GA:

“The most direct impact [of a government shutdown] is to those Georgians who could potentially be out of work or furloughed. It’s not enough to say back pay will be provided. That provides very little solace to a hardworking Georgian who has very real, tangible needs today — those are the direct impacts. The indirect impacts are the several hundred thousand veterans and other Georgians who depend on services and support from the federal government, auxiliary agencies, and departments. They now have the potential to face backlogs and delays for very real, tangible needs and services that they cannot wait on. Congress has to lead. People sent them there to get things done, not to bicker and fight amongst themselves. [They should] understand what’s at stake and make sure those services and resources that Georgians need and deserve aren’t threatened or jeopardized because of their unwillingness to act.”

State Representative Janell Bynum, District 39, OR:

“As a small business owner, I would never expect my employees — my team — to work without pay. As a mom and an elected leader, I would never refuse to show up or keep my promises for my family or my community. I hold the federal government to the same standard. We all should.

All our constituents and neighbors are asking for is a functioning government. That shouldn’t be viewed as an unrealistic aspiration, nor should it be used as a political bargaining chip; it’s the bare minimum of our responsibility as elected officials. The more time we spend holding our breath — waiting to see if our teachers, our veterans, our public servants get the resources they need — the less time we have to wrestle with the larger challenges we collectively face…Republicans in Washington, D.C., should take a lesson from Oregon’s walkout: we need you to show up, engage in healthy and respectful debate on the tough challenges you were elected to address and ensure, at a minimum, a government that functions on behalf of the people. We can and must do better.” 

We in Oregon have dealt with shutdowns pretty much my entire tenure here in the legislature. The most important thing that I’ve learned is that everyone needs to stay at the table. More importantly, I would say it’s crucial that we elect people who are interested in progress. Americans have a choice, and to be complacent and allow things to play out in Washington, D.C., and not hold people accountable invites more dysfunction. For me, it’s always been about making sure we have really good relationships in the legislature, making sure that I’m very clear about my intentions, and working to focus on our values as Oregonians and as Americans. Those are the things that will get us unstuck – but it’s really disheartening to watch the chaos in D.C.”

State Senator Chris Hansen, District 31, CO

“A federal shutdown would have a serious impact on my community. Denver is not only a place where there’s a lot of direct federal employment and big national labs like NREL and NOAA, but we’ve also got lots of retirees who are going to be depending on their Social Security checks. This is very much a kitchen table issue for a place like Denver and is going to have a negative impact. We absolutely must avoid a government shutdown — it would be a huge mistake for the country and would hurt us at the local level significantly. At the state government level, we’ve been working hard to look at ways we can mitigate this damage if it does happen, and unfortunately, the chances of that look like it’s going up by the day with the new leadership in the House. We’ve had state employees backfill some of the important federal services — we keep our national parks open, which is a big lynchpin of tourism in Colorado. This is a really important issue for Denver and across the country. I fervently hope we can avoid that outcome.”

State Representative Leonela Felix, District 61, RI:

“The impact in terms of a government shutdown can be really bad for our communities. In particular, my district is mostly an older community that relies on different benefits [programs]. If the government were to shut down, we know that eventually those funds will dry out and our communities are going to be affected. If they don’t have the funds to access services or they don’t have the funds to just pay for their basic necessities, it’s going to create a ripple effect where other areas of our community are going to be impacted – like food banks that are already burdened. [A shutdown] has so many trickle-down effects – it’s just not something we can afford. People are already struggling right now; they don’t need that additional burden.” 

Mayor Aftab Pureval, Cincinnati, OH:

“While some in Congress continue to play political theater and hold our federal government hostage, one thing remains true: cities don’t have the option to shut down. Cincinnati, like cities across the nation, has families who depend on essential federal services. This game of legislative chicken has real consequences.” 


About NewDEAL

The NewDEAL brings together leaders focused on expanding opportunity, helping them develop and spread innovative ideas to spur economic growth that is equitable and sustainable. Most importantly, the organization facilitates the exchange of ideas among its members and connects them with other pro-growth progressive political, policy, and private-sector leaders. Learn more about the NewDEAL and its members by visiting



With a shutdown looming, states and localities ready plans

Route Fifty | With a shutdown looming, states and localities ready plans

By Kery Murakami


Heading into a week that could end with the federal government shutting down, state and local officials are readying plans for a worst-case scenario, including preparing for a potential uptick in unemployment insurance claims and facing the potential end of federal funding to feed low-income people in their communities.

As they did when the government faced a shutdown on Sept. 30, state and local officials around the country are back to worrying that more than a million federal employees and tens of thousands of state and local workers funded by federal dollars will be furloughed.

“Those federal workers who live here in our city, they earn good wages,” Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said in an interview. “And if there’s a government shutdown, there’s a possibility that those wages are not flowing home, and those interruptions affect our economy.”

The prospects of a shutdown became even more unclear Monday night after the House failed to garner enough votes to bring new Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson’s proposal of a two-tiered, laddered proposal for a short-term spending bill up for a vote. Johnson will try again for a vote on Tuesday though a procedure called suspension of the rules, which would take two-thirds of the House to pass. His proposal would avoid a shutdown by continuing funding for housing, transportation, energy and water programs, and military and veterans affairs through Jan. 19. Other agencies would be funded until Feb. 2.

Conservatives in the House like Texas Rep. Chip Roy immediately opposed the proposal, saying it would not cut federal spending. “I 100% oppose,” he tweeted on X, moments after Johnson announced the plan. A couple of hours later, the White House called it an “unserious proposal” that is dead on arrival.

Johnson reportedly told Republicans that Democrats might need to support the measure for it to pass the House, a scenario that led to Kevin McCarthy’s ouster as speaker in October.

But should there be a shutdown, states may be in a slightly better position regarding benefit programs than the last time the government was on the cusp of a shutdown a little over a month ago. In that go-around, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that it would only have enough funding for a “few days” before money for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, ran out.

Fortunately, Congress averted a shutdown with a continuing resolution that expires Friday night. The short-term spending measure allowed the USDA to send states enough funding to last through the end of the year, according to an Oct. 16 letter to state WIC directors. States will therefore have a little more time—until January—before they might be faced with having to step in with their own dollars to keep women and children fed.

In a separate Oct. 16 memo, Cathy Buhrig, associate administrator of the Agriculture Department’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, told state agencies it would be able to provide food stamp benefits through the end of December. Under the speaker’s proposed laddered spending bill, SNAP would be funded longer if passed.

States received its first quarter of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, funding at the beginning of October, which will be enough to fund the program through the end of the year. Should the money run out, many state agencies contacted by Route Fifty, including the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, said they believed that they had enough money in hand to continue funding the program.

Spokespeople for social service agencies in Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina were unwilling to speculate on the impacts of a shutdown for its low-income residents.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore had announced ahead of September’s deadline that his state was willing to commit up to $1 billion of its $5 billion surplus to cover any dried-up federal funding stream. A spokesperson for the governor told Route Fifty that the state’s plans haven’t changed.

Still, should there be a shutdown, families in the state and particularly in other parts of the country will be spending the holidays worried about when food assistance might run out, said Michael J. Wilson, director of the community organization, Maryland Hunger Solutions.

“There’s a happy picture of, ‘Oh, it’s the holidays and people are going to be gathering together with their families for meals and good times.’ But that’s not everybody’s experience,” he said in an interview. The uncertainty will lead to “the psychological impact that ‘Oh, no, the government is going to shut down. Will I be able to feed my family?’ The trauma that millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands in Maryland are going to face is unnecessary.”

The uncertainty comes after a USDA report last month said the share of households who experienced food insecurity at some point last year rose “significantly” to 12.8% from 10.2% in 2021 and 10.5% in 2020. Those with very low food security also rose to 5.2% from 3.8%. In addition, 8.8% of households with children were also food insecure, up from 6.2 percent in 2021.

More women than expected have already been signing up for WIC benefits, leading states to ask Congress to approve more funding in next year’s spending bill. Keeping spending for WIC the same until January under Johnson’s proposal would exacerbate the fact that states are not receiving enough for the program in the first place. A shutdown will create uncertainty for state WIC agencies over how long they will be able to provide services before having to turn women away.

Sharon Parrott, president of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, tweeted on Saturday that “states may start to cut enrollment by creating waiting lists & halting outreach.”

And even if there is a shutdown, states will be unsure how to proceed, said Kelly Horton, chief program officer for the Food Research and Action Center. “If you are a WIC director and you have to manage the caseload and the funding that is allocated to your state, you are in a very uncomfortable position of being unsure of what the current and future funding projections are going to look like.”

States, for instance, may feel the need to advertise the program so that women know the help is available, Horton said. But they would be “a little nervous” about attracting more families than they have money for.

Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia told reporters outside the U.S. Capitol last week that she is open to a shutdown unless Democrats agree to cut spending and enact border security measures. She downplayed the concerns of government workers being furloughed, noting that companies are having trouble hiring enough workers. “So anyone here in the federal government that’s upset because they have a delay in their paycheck,” she said, “they can go get a job in the real world.”

“We don’t want to see interruptions in government because there are real effects on the ground,” said Johnson, Milwaukee’s mayor and a Democrat. “Our elected officials are here to do a job, right? It’s their responsibility to get this stuff figured out so that citizens elsewhere across the country, including right here in Milwaukee, can rely on the services that the federal government provides.”

Debbie Cox Bultan, chief executive officer at NewDeal, a progressive network for state and local leaders, said that local officials that she has talked to are also worried the fighting will erode people’s trust in government. “There’s a self-inflicted wound,” she said. “The chaos that the Republicans are causing is just adding to this overall feeling that we send people to Washington who can’t do their jobs.”

Many states contacted by Route Fifty declined to say whether they would furlough workers funded by the federal government. But California’s deputy finance director, H.D. Palmer, said in an email that, as was the case in September, the state is still not planning to furlough workers.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said that those furloughed in the past work in areas like occupational safety and health programs, state Social Security disability claim offices, state public defense/military affairs, and state health and human services departments.

Among the possible consequences local governments could again face are disruptions to air travel. As they did in the 2019 government shutdown, Transportation Security Administration employees working without pay could call in sick. That could cause delays at airports, a third of which are run by counties.

Democrats, Democracy Emerge as Election Winners

NewDEAL Announces Winners in National Ideas Challenge

For Immediate Release:                                                    

November 7, 2023                                                        

Contact: Jonathon Dworkin, 202-660-1340 x5,

NewDEAL Announces Winners in National Ideas Challenge

State and local leaders recognized for transformative policy ideas that expand opportunity and strengthen democracy.

Washington, DC – NewDEAL has announced four winners in the 2023 National Ideas Challenge, a competition among rising and innovative state and local policymakers to propose the most effective solutions on an array of issues. Nationally-recognized policy experts serve as judges for proposals that best improve Americans’ well-being and overall quality of life, and that make government work more effectively to meet communities’ needs.

From nearly 80 entries, the judges (listed below) initially narrowed the field to 20 finalists, and selected these winners:

“I am blown away by this year’s competition entries, and especially these winners,” said Debbie Cox Bultan, CEO of NewDEAL. “The winning ideas, together, highlight a foundational principle of NewDEAL Leaders: fighting every day for policies that help Americans to thrive no matter where they come from or what ZIP code they live in. All the ideas submitted show leaders working relentlessly to improve the life of every American. At a time when there is much focus on problems and division in our politics, NewDEALers like Secretary Toulouse Oliver, Representatives Bynum and Olaleye, and Mayor Stoney fill me with hope and optimism as they work to deliver positive results for their constituents.”

The 2023 Ideas Challenge winning ideas:

Effective Use of Federal Funds Winner:

  • Janelle Bynum, Oregon state Representative, won for her Leveraging Federal CHIPS Funding & Creating a Diverse STEM Workforce program. To directly address the gender, social, and racial gaps in STEM education and careers, Bynum advocated for two new grant programs focused on leveraging federal CHIPS funding to build a diverse workforce for the future. These grants go above and beyond what other states are doing and will work to ensure that the lucrative semiconductor careers of the future are more equitably distributed and incorporate individuals who are often left out of economic development. Bynum emphasizes that, especially considering the Supreme Court’s recent decision on affirmative action, investing in students who will attend HBCUs is more important than ever to address the STEM education and career gap.

    “My focus in the legislature continues to be closing the gap between talent and opportunity,” Bynum said. “We have brilliant kids across this state that, if they didn’t have the opportunity, they wouldn’t go as far as they could.” Bynym added that the most important thing the government can do “is give people agency and options, and not prescribe the rest of their lives based on where they were born, who they love, or what they look like.”

Creating Economic Opportunities and Lowering Costs for Families Winner:

  • Levar Stoney, Mayor of Richmond, won for his Richmond Pathways Program, an initiative to provide assistance to students to community college. With an initial investment of $1.7 million from the City of Richmond, the Richmond Pathways Program pilot program will cover the tuition of any Richmond Public School graduate to attend the local community college. The award will be paired with a monthly cash allowance, mentorship, and additional resources to open more pathways for students to access postsecondary institutions and achieve success. Students will be able to pursue instruction in career-specific or skilled-trades credentials in addition to earning credits to transfer to a four-year college.

    “I want to create ladders to opportunity – ladders to success – for so many of our children,” Stoney said. “And the Richmond Pathways program will help us eliminate barriers to college. We want the dreams of all these children unlocked with this Richmond Pathways program.”

Promoting Equality with a Focus on Underserved Communities Winner:

  • Phil Olaleye, Georgia state Representative, won for his Georgia Educational Opportunity Act, a bill to expand resources to low-income students. Georgia HB 668 introduces an “opportunity weight” to allocate additional resources for students in poverty. Georgia is one of only six states that does not allocate specific state funds to help educate students living in poverty. This initiative ensures schools can meet diverse educational needs, from rural transportation to mental health support and urban meal programs, striving to eliminate disparities and enhance education statewide. For example, schools in rural Georgia might use the funds to transport students to dual enrollment programs or provide Wi-Fi hotspots. Suburban schools might use the funds to enhance mental health counseling and increase after-school tutoring. And urban districts might use the funds to pay for school meal programs and provide critical wraparound services.

    “One of the reasons I ran for office was to stand up for Georgia children, especially those most under-resourced, most economically disadvantaged youth across the state, not just in my district,” said Olaleye. “When you live in a state where we have close to half a million children living in poverty, and those students aren’t receiving additional resources for academic recovery, for enrichment programming, for dual-enrollment transportation, for nutrition services, those stressors make it really difficult for those children and the school at large to be successful,” he added. “It’s past-due that we, as a state, put our children first.”

Protecting Democracy Winner:

  • Maggie Toulouse Oliver, New Mexico Secretary of State, won for her New Mexico Voting Rights Act and Election Infrastructure Bills, legislation she championed that was signed into law this year focused on voting rights and protecting elections. Her efforts focused on voting rights and election infrastructure, demonstrating that expanding ballot access while enhancing ballot integrity can happen simultaneously. The NM Voting Rights Act includes provisions to restore voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals; strengthen New Mexico’s automatic voter registration system; create a permanent absentee ballot list and expand the use of secure ballot drop-boxes; and enact the “Native American Voting Rights Act,” a first of its kind in the entire country. The NAVRA portion of this bill protects ballot access for Indian, Tribal, and Pueblo communities throughout New Mexico by ensuring they have input on polling locations.

    A second bill (SB 180) brings New Mexico’s election infrastructure further into the 21st century and allows candidates to pursue digital petition collection options, making this process more equitable and more aligned with campaign practices of today. It creates more layers of protection to ensure the integrity of absentee ballots and reflect the growing preference for absentee voting nationally. It also creates a more substantive process by which New Mexico’s elections are audited to ensure accurate and reliable results, while also including provisions for local officials to verify and streamline those and related processes.

    “Our democracy is at its healthiest when we have the widest participation possible,” Toulouse Oliver said. “When I look around the country, and see some places where states are making it more difficult to cast a ballot, I looked for ways in New Mexico to make voting both easier and more secure at the same time.”

About the Ideas Challenge

The Ideas Challenge was open to the nearly 200 members of the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), a national network of rising state and local elected leaders who are pro-growth progressives. A list of this year’s twenty finalists, and a brief description of their ideas, can be found here.

NewDEAL’s mission is to bring together leaders focused on expanding opportunity and to help them develop and spread innovative ideas to spur economic growth that is broadly-earned and sustainable. NewDEAL Leaders connect with each other, and with other pro-growth progressive political, policy, and private sector leaders, to achieve the group’s mission.

The winners of the 2023 Ideas Challenge are featured in GOVERNING, and will be recognized at the thirteenth annual NewDEAL Leaders Conference, November 15-17, in Washington, D.C.

NewDEAL would like to thank the following panel of judges for reviewing the Ideas Challenge submissions:

Kate Burns, Executive Director of the MetroLab Network

Frank DiGiammarino, Executive Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton

Jorge Elorza, CEO of Democrats for Education Reform

Karen Freeman-Wilson, President & CEO of Chicago Urban League

Patrick Gaspard, President & CEO of the Center for American Progress

Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, U.S. Representative (NH) & Chair of the New Democrat Coalition

Andi Phillips, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Maycomb Capital

Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, President & CEO of Accelerator for America


Growing Up Center-Left

Broadband Task Force Leaders: Congress Must Fully Fund Affordability Subsidy

For Immediate Release:

October 30, 2023

Contact: Jonathon Dworkin (NewDEAL), 202-660-1340 x5,

Broadband Task Force Leaders: Congress Must Fully Fund Affordability Subsidy

Co-chairs of the NewDEAL Forum’s Broadband Task Force highlight the positive impacts of the Affordable Connectivity Program, and request $7 billion in continued funding.

Washington, D.C. – Co-chairs of the NewDEAL Forum’s Broadband Task Force have asked Congressional leaders for an additional $7 billion of funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), an initiative created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that subsidizes high-speed internet for more than 20 million Americans, with more eligible to participate, and is projected to run out of funding in the coming months.

“Access to affordable high-speed internet is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity for millions of Americans to fully participate in today’s digital economy,” co-chairs Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (MI); Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (NC); and Commissioner Dana Barrett (Fulton County, GA), wrote in a letter addressed to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.

From virtual schooling to remote work to telemedicine, the need for high-speed internet could not be clearer. And broadband access is about more than convenience – it is a smart investment. The co-chairs cite a 2021 study showing the ACP increases both employment rates and incomes.

As the letter notes, the ACP has resulted in “significant strides in connecting people to high-speed internet access in our home states,” adding that the Task Force has “heard similar stories from our colleagues in NewDEAL’s network of state and local policymakers.”

Yet experts expect funding for the ACP to run out in the middle of 2024. Congress should include ACP funding in the current efforts to fund the government beyond the current stopgap measure.

“I hope it is a no-brainer that every member of Congress would support a program like ACP, which has proven to be critical in rural communities, urban centers, and everywhere in between,” NewDEAL Forum CEO Debbie Cox Bultan said when the letter was released. “I’m grateful that elected officials like Lt. Gov. Gilchrist, Sen. Chaudhuri, and Commissioner Barrett are leading the charge on such an important issue for creating opportuning for more Americans.”

“ACP is a vital initiative that prevented millions of Americans from falling behind economically during the pandemic, and it is essential to the progress of other federal broadband investments and the ongoing pursuit of digital equity,” the co-chairs wrote. They further emphasize that the opportunity to effectively and efficiently administer the biggest broadband access initiatives under the Bipartisan Instructure Law “relies on continued access to a reliable low-cost option,” which must exist for states to access all of the funds allocated to them. Implementation will be “diminished by the expiration of what was the major affordability piece of the infrastructure law.”

This letter was the first action taken under the Task Force’s new leadership, which features two new co-chairs as Chaudhuri and Barrett join Gilchrist, who has helped lead the group since its launch in 2021 and is at the forefront of Michigan’s broadband access work. Chaudhuri has sponsored bipartisan legislation to push for broadband expansion while advocating for high-speed WiFi in schools, assistance for low-income families, and digital inclusion. Barrett, who began her career in the technology sector, has helped spearhead the Connect the Dots Digital Equity initiative, which will provide hardware, software, training, and free or low-cost internet services to families and children in lower socio-economic neighborhoods

Read the full letter from the Task Force here.

About NewDEAL Forum

The NewDEAL Forum is a Washington-DC based non-profit organization which identifies and promotes innovative, future-oriented state and local pro-growth progressive policies that can improve the lives of all Americans. By facilitating the identification and spread of policy ideas, the NewDEAL Forum seeks to foster economic growth, reduce barriers to opportunity, and promote good government in communities throughout the country.