In 2018, our organizing work significantly grew beyond Jackson into other parts of the state through an emerging effort called Working Together Mississippi. We are currently focused on three issues, which broadly center under the topics of Education, Healthcare, and Immigration.
Working Together Mississippi, in partnership with Parents for Public Schools (PPS), has focused on voter education, get-out-the-vote work, and building a constituency in support for public education. Our agenda included full funding for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and opposition to privatization schemes. Our biggest success was our work in the Mississippi Delta where we were able to develop relationships with two new Senators who have pledged to fully support our education strategy. These commitments were made in public gatherings where the new Senators committed to work with PPS and Working Together Mississippi.
WTM is currently working with the Mississippi Hospital Association to pass the Mississippi Cares Plan, which would aid Mississippi’s working poor and require no state funding.
Under the plan as it is currently conceived, adults who earn up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level would qualify. They would receive the same benefits and pay the same co-pays as other Medicaid recipients. The MHA proposes that, with certain exceptions, non-employed participants must enroll in a job training program, education, or volunteer program.
This extension of healthcare to the working poor of Mississippi would be funded 90% by the Federal Government. Through the hospital-owned provider-sponsored health plan, Mississippi hospitals will make an additional investment in premiums needed to fund the program. The 10% State share required to match the 90% federal share would be funded through hospital investments and personal premiums from plan members. No state funds are required.
Since August 7, 2019, Working Together Mississippi has been providing support at five different sites that were impacted by the largest ICE raids in history. We have established five comites in each site, with an average membership of a dozen immigrant leaders, and has provided training on the skills of relational organizing that aid in building an immigrant-led response to the raids. WTM is driving this new Mississippi Immigrants Movement beyond the immediate disaster relief response into deep institutional organizing.