WHO WE ARE
The ReFund America Project, supported by the Roosevelt Institute, tackles the ongoing impact that the financial crisis has had on the financial health of America’s cities and provides a dedicated campaign team to help local organizations restore the balance of economic power to Main Street.
Director, ReFund America Project
Fellow, Roosevelt Institute
Saqib Bhatti is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the director of the ReFund America Project. He works on campaigns to rebalance the relationship between Wall Street and local communities. He was previously a fellow at the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Prior to that, he worked on Wall Street accountability at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Senior Research Analyst
Carrie Sloan is a Senior Research Analyst at the ReFund America Project, where she works on campaigns to restore the balance of economic power from Wall Street to Main Street. Prior to that, she spent more than 10 years working in the labor movement as a strategic researcher for the Service Employees International Union and a rank and file member of the United Auto Workers. She holds a master’s degree from the University of California at San Diego.
ReFund America Project's reports and one-pagers.
THE FINANCIALIZATION OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Higher education in the U.S. is in a state of crisis. We see evidence of this crisis in huge cuts in funding for public schools, skyrocketing costs of attendance at both private and public schools, and increases in student debt burdens.
Click here to download the report.
TIME TO PAY THE PIPER
SCOOPING AND TOSSING PUERTO RICO'S FUTURE
Congress passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) in June, which will create a Fiscal Control Board to oversee the Commonwealth’s finances. But in order for it to do its job fairly, the Control Board must understand how Puerto Rico came to be so deeply indebted in the first place. The ReFund America Project is releasing a series of reports investigating Puerto Rico’s debt.
Click here to download the English version of the report. Haga clic aquí para una versión en español de este informe.
PUERTO RICO'S PAYDAY LOANS
MUNICIPAL BANKING: AN OVERVIEW
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD
The City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools are trapped in a host of predatory municipal finance deals that cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year. Instead of cutting services for residents, the city should look to reduce its financial expenses.
Wisconsin faces a revenue crisis after irresponsible tax cuts produced a huge budgetdecit. State leaders are attempting to deal with the crisis though drastic cuts to vital infrastructure, such as public education. These proposed cuts follow years of reductionsto these same crucial services.
The financialization of the United States economy has distorted our social, economic, and political priorities. Cities and states across the country are forced to cut essential community services because they are trapped in predatory municipal finance deals that cost them millions of dollars every year.
RIDING THE GRAVY TRAIN
In city after city, transit riders are facing fare hikes and service cuts. But while riders are forced to bear the costs of solving transit agencies’ budget problems, the big banks on Wall Street are gouging many of these same agencies and the governments that fund them for more than half a billion dollars each year through toxic deals known as interest rate swaps.
Additional reports and resources from our partners.
New Day New York Coalition
New York is among the most unequal cities in the US. This inequality has become the most pressing issue in New York City and New York State. The good news is that New Yorkers are demanding action — and there’s a clear path to real, practical alternatives that can make New York fairer, more livable and more prosperous.
To return Detroit to long-term fiscal health, the city must increase revenue and extract itself from the financial transactions that threaten to drain its budget even further.
ISAIAH, Jewish Community Action, Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Minnesotans for a Fair Economy
What foreclosures are costing Minnesotans and what we can do about it.
ReFund America Project in the News
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan and many other cities across the US go much deeper than budget cuts, but following the money is tough. To help, RT America's Simone Del Rosario is joined by Carrie Sloan, a senior research analyst at the Refund America Project.
Carrie Sloan writes in The Nation - Chicago’s police brutality victims and survivors are disproportionately Black, and it is no coincidence that Black communities are the most overpoliced and underinvested. The money cities save could instead be invested back in the communities that have been most impacted by police misconduct.
On today’s episode, we’re celebrating Labor Day – a holiday recognizing the American labor movement and achievements of American workers. Saqib Bhatti discusses the astronomical fees that cities pay for financial services and how cities should take a page out of the labor playbook by collectively bargaining with Wall Street to save money.
New York Times
New York Times Gretchen Morgenson writes about ReFund America Project's report, “All That Glitters Is Not Gold.” Conducted by researchers for the American Federation of Teachers, the report examined the hedge fund performance of 11 large public pensions and found that these investments exacted a high cost, had laggard returns and generally moved in tandem with the overall stock market.
Ken Davis is joined by Saqib Bhatti, The Roosevelt Institute. They discuss "disaster capitalism", how government austerity enables predatory lending to municipalities, and the possibility of a Chicago bankruptcy. This program was produced by Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV).
In These Times
Saqib Bhatti writes in In These Times - Arbitrary financial fees are sucking cities and states dry. But they can change the terms if they band together and bargain collectively.
A stunning new report by ReFund America Project reveals nearly half the debt owed by Puerto Rico is not actually money that the island borrowed, but instead interest owed to investors on bonds underwritten by Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.
With your help we are reimagining America as it should be—a place where work is rewarded, everyone participates, and everyone enjoys a fair share of our collective prosperity.