JOBS AND GROWTH
Megan has been a lifelong advocate for working people. She was raised in a union household by a mom who was President of her local Teachers’ Union, New York State United Teachers – NYSUT (NEA, AFL-CIO, AFT Affiliate) and a father who was a member of United University Professors. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant, she carried on her family tradition of union involvement by joining the Washington University Graduate Working Union, an affiliate of SEIU Local 1. Megan believes people should be valued above profit, and has lived out her value by fighting for fair pay and working conditions for and with city workers. She has collaborated with the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 to stop so-called Right to Work laws. As Alderwoman, Megan was instrumental in the passage of legislation to raise the minimum wage in the City of St. Louis, and has successfully fought with janitors to win a raise and fair contract. Megan was also a co-sponsor of the prevailing wage legislation in the City of St. Louis, and worked hand-in-hand with workers in St. Louis to stop the privatization of Lambert St. Louis International Airport. In her campaign for President of the Board of Aldermen, she is also committed to paying all of her campaign staff at least $15 per hour.
Megan recognizes that equitable economic growth is the key to prosperity, progress, and success for our City. Pursuing equitable and strategic economic development, closing income and wealth gaps, and mitigating the destabilizing impacts of generational poverty are critical for the well-being and futures of all St. Louisans. Luckily, the City has access to unprecedented funding and resources via American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, federal infrastructure money, and the revenue from the recent Rams settlement. These funds must be strategically leveraged to address immediate economic justice needs, launch pilot programs that can be institutionalized and sustained through other revenue streams, and create programs that can last for generations. Megan proposes the following investments:
Creating an Economic Development Strategic Plan: Megan believes that City residents should have a say in their own economic futures and that each neighborhood has its own unique needs. As the President of the Board of Aldermen, she would work with each alderperson, SLDC, and CDA to develop strategic plans specific to each ward or neighborhood. To ensure that community input guides the plans, Megan would require a participatory-based, community-driven process that may include elements such as resident leadership, commenting periods, and town halls.
Closing the Skills-to-Job Gap: St. Louis is becoming a start-up mecca. The key to leveraging this opportunity is retaining start-ups in the City by training the employees of tomorrow. With increased capacity, organizations focused on skill growth and development such as LaunchCode could train twice the number of workers for technology-related careers, which are projected to grow 13% in the next 10 years. As a city, we should be incentivizing the creation of high-wage jobs, rather than low wage jobs, and making those high-wage jobs accessible to everyone. By investing in our people, especially our youth, the City can not only attract, but retain its talent.
Reforming Tax Incentives: Between 2000-2014, St. Louis lost $700 million in tax revenues to incentivize development using TIFs and tax abatements. A huge portion of these tax incentives were given to developers to build luxury, single-family homes and high-value properties in the wealthiest wards in the City. At the same time, The Affordable Housing Report Card found a deficit of 35,000 affordable housing units in the St. Louis region. Tax incentives use public dollars, and public dollars should provide public benefit to every City resident. Instead, many of these investments have led to the vast displacement of long-time Black and low-income residents and the loss of critical funding for our public schools, leaving the wards with the greatest need for resources to find funding elsewhere.
Alderpeople have an important role to play in the tax incentive system when acting in good faith and fighting for their communities at the bargaining table with developers. To ensure that our public schools and City services benefit from public investments in the City, the Board of Aldermen must strategically limit the incentives offered to new projects. Specifically, the City should implement the recommendations of the PFM study on tax incentive to limit subsidies and establish city-wide guidelines on incentive use.
Launch a Basic Income Pilot: Paired with a Reparations Fund, ARPA funds can be used to launch a Basic Income Pilot to provide $500 per month to 1,000 City residents for two years. This will provide a basic income floor in which residents can have urgent relief to meet basic needs, weather present and future economic shocks, and build economic security for themselves and their families.
Form a Red Tape Commission: The Commission would be composed of small businesses to review the City Code, licensing, permitting, zoning, planning, and any additional touch points between small businesses and City Hall to improve services and reduce red tape. This Commission is also a step toward to creating alignment of regulations and policies with St. Louis County.
Eliminate Loopholes in the City’s Earning Tax Law: In order to create more equity in local taxation, Ordinance 65094 must be repealed. Under this existing policy, only the wealthy benefit because it prevents the City from taxing stock options, performance shares, or performance-based stock related incentive plans. To have a prosperous City, everyone must pay their fair share.
Create a Workers’ Bill of Rights: Megan supports legislation to establish pay and scheduling transparency standards for employees, as well as to create a Bill of Rights for working people to ensure that workers have dignified working conditions that allow them to provide for their families. Megan also supports the development of a Worker Protection Board to investigate exploitative employers and enforce the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, politicians in Jefferson City have passed legislation banning municipalities from setting minimum wages, mandating employment benefits, or taxing entities without a public vote. Megan is committed to working around these constraints to the greatest extent possible to create healthy and safe work environments for St. Louis.
Establish a Reparations Committee and Reparations Plan: Megan supports the recent call from a coalition of local community organizations for the City to establish a plan for reparations through a Reparations Commission. It is time for St. Louis to actively commit to addressing the significant harms caused by generations of racist policies and practices.