Non-profit

Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis

Website:

www.thecommonwealthinstitute.org/

Location:

RICHMOND, VA

Tax ID:

27-1598303

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $1,152,586
Expenses: $841,767
Assets: $1,122,061

Formation:

2010

President:

Michael Cassidy

The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis is a left-of-center public policy organization headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. The Institute researches and recommends the implementation of left-of-center state-level policies on labor, taxation, education, healthcare, and immigration to public officials. [1] In 2020, the Institute supported a range of measures, including legislation to increase the Virginia minimum wage to $15 per hour, invest $1.1 billion in reserve funding entirely into education, and limit private healthcare options for Virginians. [2][3][4]

The Commonwealth Institute is affiliated with the labor-union-aligned Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) and the left-of-center State Priorities Partnership (SPP). [5]

Research Activities

The Commonwealth Institute often publishes policy research and recommendations to support its left-of-center political activism, in addition to producing standalone research projects.

Poverty Data

In 2009, the Commonwealth Institute’s executive director, Michael Cassidy, presented an overview of Virginia’s poverty rates to the Virginia Department of Social Services. The report, collectively developed by the Institute, identified poverty rates across demographics including race and ethnicity, education levels, and age. The report, which also covered healthcare and welfare data, concluded with a laundry-list of left-progressive recommendations to reduce Virginia’s poverty rate: making the Virginia Earned Income [tax] Credit refundable, expanding government-funded Medicaid health coverage, raising the minimum wage, expanding eligibility for unemployment insurance, and increasing the availability of food stamps. [6]

“The Half Sheet”

The Commonwealth Institute operates a blog on its website called “The Half Sheet,” which provides analysis on current events and the impact they have on individuals in various socioeconomic classes. The blog also publishes opinion pieces related to immigration, employment, and other Commonwealth Institute areas of interest. [7]

Political Advocacy

The Commonwealth Institute encourages lawmakers to adopt left-of-center policies, advocating for large increases to government spending. In October of 2020, after the state passed a sweeping budget bill, the Commonwealth Institute claimed that the bill did not go far enough, expressing its discontent that the state did not tap into its reserve funding. [8] A representative for the Institute had praised an earlier version of the bill, which aimed to spend nearly all of the reserve funding, claiming that the legislature had a responsibility to allocate aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. [9] Institute president Michael Cassidy praised left-of-center funding measures contained within the budget bill, including Virginia’s highest education spending per student in over a decade and mass expansions of Medicaid. [10]

Economic Policy

The Commonwealth Institute supports left-of-center economic and labor policies, supporting. In April of 2020, the Institute supported Virginia House Bill 395, a bill which aimed to increase the minimum wage gradually to $15 per hour by 2026. [11] In 2019, the Institute also supported measures to increase the minimum wage to $8 per hour (SB 1017) and $10 per hour (SB 1200). [12]

In 2019, the Institute also lobbied for several measures to increase taxes within the state of Virginia, including the reinstatement of a death tax on estates, the creation of an income tax credit for low-income taxpayers, and the establishment of increased income reporting requirements for corporations. [13]

Education Spending

The Commonwealth Institute has frequently advocated for increased education spending. In September of 2020, the Commonwealth Institute led the Fund Our Schools Coalition, calling on Virginia lawmakers to provide $1.1 billion in education funding amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. [14] The coalition featured other left-of-center organizations, including Virginia Educators United and the Norfolk Federation of Teachers, a local labor union affiliated with the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). [15]

In October of 2020, the Commonwealth Institute supported the passage of Virginia House Bill 5113. HB 5113 aimed to expand access to the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), a program to provide free breakfast and lunch to children in low-income areas. Other left-of-center organizations supported the measure, including the Virginia Black Leadership Organizing Collective and the Virginia Poverty Law Center. [16]

The Institute has also supported efforts to expand government spending on higher education. In 2020, the Institute released a report calling on the state of Virginia to force public universities and colleges to provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants living in the commonwealth. [17] That April, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) signed a bill granting in-state tuition for all Virginia residents, including illegal immigrants. [18]

Healthcare

The Commonwealth Institute has also supported left-of-center measures to increase government healthcare spending and prevent market action in the healthcare sector. In May of 2020, the Institute supported Gov. Northam’s decision to veto bills which would have opened up the healthcare market by expanding citizen access to association health plans (AHPs) and multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs). The Institute applauded Gov. Northam’s decision, claiming that allowing for increased choice in the healthcare market would have harmed the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). [19]

At the federal level, the Commonwealth Institute has called for massive spending to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In September of 2020, Institute policy director Chris Duncombe published an article calling on Congress to pass another wave of stimulus spending, calling the $700 billion package put forth by Republican leaders inadequate and demanding higher levels of aid. [20]

Immigration and Criminal Justice

The Commonwealth Institute has supported left-of-center policies on immigration. In early 2020, the Institute published a study arguing that illegal immigrants should be allowed to access drivers’ licenses. [21] Gov. Northam signed a bill permitting illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses in July of 2020. [22]

The Institute has also advanced left-of-center policies on criminal justice. In September of 2020, the Commonwealth Institute released a statement on Blue Virginia, a media platform for Democratic politics, endorsing Virginia House Bill 5146 and Senate Bill 5043. The bills, if passed, would automatically expunge certain criminal offenses from individuals’ records if they remained crime-free for a given amount of time, preventing their convictions from ever being accessed by individuals or potential employers. [23]

Donors and Coalitions

In 2018, the Commonwealth Institute received all but $14,000 of its $1,739,494 in revenue from donations, though it does not disclose any major donors. [24] The Institute provided grants to other left-of-center organizations based in Virginia, including the Virginia Civic Engagement Table, New Virginia Majority, and Progress Virginia. [25]

The Commonwealth Institute is also involved in a number of left-of-center coalitions, including the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) and the State Priorities Partnership (SPP). EARN is a national umbrella organization for pro-organized labor groups that is heavily funded by left-of-center labor organizations, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the AFL-CIO, and the National Education Association (NEA). [26] The SPP is a network of over 40 policy organizations that aim to promote left-of-center policy across the country. [27]

Leadership

Michael Cassidy is the founder, president, and CEO of the Commonwealth Institute. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in 1993 and a Master’s of Public Policy from the College of William and Mary in 1999. [28] Cassidy has also worked in the Obama administration as an analyst for the White House Office of Management and Budget’s justice section. [29] Cassidy is a registered lobbyist and advocates routinely on behalf of the Institute. [30] In August of 2020, Gov. Northam appointed Cassidy to a primary care task force for the state of Virginia. [31]

Leigh Anne Collier is the senior vice president of the Institute. In 2004, she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Richmond. [32] Collier has since worked for the 2008 Hillary Clinton for President campaign, for the campaign of former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), and as executive director for the Democratic Party of Virginia. [33][34]

In December of 2020, Gov. Northam appointed Commonwealth Institute senior policy fellow and counsel Phil Hernandez to the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice. [35]

References

  1. Cheslow, Daniella. “Virginia Lawmakers Pass $135b Budget, Despite Calls To Delay Amid Health Scare.” WAMU 88.5, March 13, 2020. https://wamu.org/story/20/03/13/virginia-lawmakers-pass-135b-budget-despite-calls-to-delay-amid-health-scare/. ^
  2. “Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.” The Virginia Public Access Project. Accessed April 13, 2020. https://www.vpap.org/lobbying/client/188457-commonwealth-institute-for-fiscal-analysis/ ^
  3. “HOME.” Fund Our Schools Virginia. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.fundourschoolsva.org/. ^
  4. Blue Virginia. “The Commonwealth Institute Applauds Gov. Northam’s Vetoes on Association Health Plan, Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement Legislation.” Blue Virginia, May 21, 2020. https://bluevirginia.us/2020/05/the-commonwealth-institute-applauds-gov-northams-vetoes-on-association-health-plan-multiple-employer-welfare-arrangement-legislation. ^
  5. “About.” State Priorities Partnership. Accessed December 15, 2020. http://statepriorities.org/about/. ^
  6. Cassidy, Michael. “Virginia’s Poverty Overview.” Virginia Department of Social Services, August 20, 2009. https://www.dss.virginia.gov/files/division/olra/sbss/resource_center/related_links/SBSS_2009-08_Virginia_Poverty_Overview.pdf. ^
  7. “The Half Sheet.” The Half Sheet. The Commonwealth Institute. Accessed April 13, 2020. https://thehalfsheet.org/. ^
  8. Giambrone, Andrew. “VA Senate Passes Budget Including Medicaid Enhancements, Law Enforcement Bonuses.” DCist. WAMU 88.5 , October 2, 2020. https://dcist.com/story/20/10/02/virginia-senate-passes-budget-includes-medicaid-enhancements-law-enforcement-bonuses/. ^
  9. Cheslow, Daniella. “Virginia House Of Delegates Passes Budget, Funds Police Reform.” WAMU. WAMU 88.5 , September 30, 2020. https://wamu.org/story/20/09/30/virginia-house-budget-funds-police-reforms-and-housing-relief-nixes-teacher-pay-hike/. ^
  10. Cheslow, Daniella. “Virginia Lawmakers Pass $135b Budget, Despite Calls To Delay Amid Health Scare.” WAMU 88.5, March 13, 2020. https://wamu.org/story/20/03/13/virginia-lawmakers-pass-135b-budget-despite-calls-to-delay-amid-health-scare/. ^
  11. CNS, VCU. “Workers Urge Northam To Sign Minimum Wage Bill.” RVA Mag. RVA Magazine, April 8, 2020. https://rvamag.com/politics/virginia-politics/workers-urge-northam-to-sign-minimum-wage-bill.html. ^
  12. “Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.” The Virginia Public Access Project. Accessed April 13, 2020. https://www.vpap.org/lobbying/client/188457-commonwealth-institute-for-fiscal-analysis/ ^
  13. “Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.” The Virginia Public Access Project. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.vpap.org/lobbying/client/188457-commonwealth-institute-for-fiscal-analysis/?page=3. ^
  14. Dashiell, Joe. “Education Advocates Urge Lawmakers to Tap Rainy Day Fund.” WHSV 3. Gray Media Group. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.whsv.com/2020/09/04/education-advocates-urge-lawmakers-to-tap-rainy-day-fund/. ^
  15. “HOME.” Fund Our Schools Virginia. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.fundourschoolsva.org/. ^
  16. “Gov. Northam Signs Del. Roem’s HB 5113 Bill to Feed More School Children into Law.” Bristow Beat, October 15, 2020. http://bristowbeat.com/education/gov-northam-signs-del-roems-hb-5113-bill-feed-school-children-law/. ^
  17. WHSV Newsroom. “Northam Signs Bills to Expand in-State Tuition Regardless of Citizenship Status.” WHSV 3. Gray Media Group. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.whsv.com/content/news/With-Northams-signature-Virginia-becomes-1st-southern-state-allowing-undocumented-students-to-pay-in-state-tuition-569640931.html. ^
  18. WHSV Newsroom. “Northam Signs Bills to Expand in-State Tuition Regardless of Citizenship Status.” WHSV 3. Gray Media Group. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.whsv.com/content/news/With-Northams-signature-Virginia-becomes-1st-southern-state-allowing-undocumented-students-to-pay-in-state-tuition-569640931.html. ^
  19. Blue Virginia. “The Commonwealth Institute Applauds Gov. Northam’s Vetoes on Association Health Plan, Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement Legislation.” Blue Virginia, May 21, 2020. https://bluevirginia.us/2020/05/the-commonwealth-institute-applauds-gov-northams-vetoes-on-association-health-plan-multiple-employer-welfare-arrangement-legislation. ^
  20. Duncombe, Chris. “It’s Past Time for Congress to Act and Pass the next Federal Relief Package.” Virginia Mercury, September 21, 2020. https://www.virginiamercury.com/2020/09/22/its-past-time-for-congress-to-act-and-pass-the-next-federal-relief-package/. ^
  21. Romano, Ada. “Bill Advances to Grant Undocumented Immigrants Driver’s Licenses.” NBC 12, February 6, 2020. https://www.nbc12.com/2020/02/06/bill-advances-grant-undocumented-immigrants-drivers-licenses/. ^
  22. Tyree, Elizabeth. “Northam Signs Law Allowing Undocumented Immigrants to Get Driver’s Licenses in Virginia.” WSET. Sinclair Broadcast Group, July 20, 2020. https://wset.com/news/at-the-capitol/drivers-licenses. ^
  23. “Virginia Is For Second Chances: Landmark Expungement Reform Moves Forward.” Blue Virginia, September 11, 2020. https://bluevirginia.us/2020/09/virginia-is-for-second-chances-landmark-expungement-reform-moves-forward. ^
  24. Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2018. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/271598303/201911699349300726/full. ^
  25. Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. Return of Organization Exempt from IncomeTax (Form 990), 2018. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/271598303/201911699349300726/full. ^
  26. “EARNCon.” EARN. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://earn.us/conference/. ^
  27. “About.” State Priorities Partnership. Accessed December 15, 2020. http://statepriorities.org/about/. ^
  28. “Graduate Alumni Direcotry.” William & Mary. Accessed April 8, 2020. https://www.wm.edu/as/publicpolicy/alumni/gradalumnidir/index.php. ^
  29. “Meeting Record Regarding: Retention and Reporting of Information for F, J, and M Nonimmigrants; Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).” National Archives and Records Administration, April 25, 2AD. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/omb/oira_1115_meetings_107. ^
  30. “Michael Cassidy.” The Virginia Public Access Project. Accessed April 13, 2020. https://www.vpap.org/lobbying/lobbyist/188458-michael-james-cassidy/. ^
  31. Lake, Sydney. “Northam Launches Primary Care Task Force.” Virginia Business, August 5, 2020. https://www.virginiabusiness.com/article/northam-launches-primary-care-task-force/. ^
  32. “Staff.” The Commonwealth Institute. Accessed April 13, 2020. https://www.thecommonwealthinstitute.org/about-us/staffboard/. ^
  33. “Board of Directors.” Emerge Virginia. Accessed April 13, 2020. https://va.emergeamerica.org/about/board-of-directors/. ^
  34. Helderman, Rosalind. “DPV Gets Interim Director.” The Washington Post, June 25, 2009. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/virginiapolitics/2009/06/dpv_gets_interim_director.html. ^
  35. Cornish, Neil. “Latest Gubernatorial Appointments.” Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 13, 2020. https://richmond.com/business/latest-gubernatorial-appointments/article_8e89f6f7-5221-530a-829f-dae462224e80.html. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 2010

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $1,152,586 $841,767 $1,122,061 $16,761 N $1,141,535 $11,047 $4 $257,105
    2016 Dec Form 990 $1,296,651 $944,892 $803,588 $9,107 N $1,294,651 $2,000 $0 $215,694
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,090,847 $1,017,526 $452,392 $9,670 N $1,071,202 $19,645 $0 $114,000 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,034,079 $1,104,747 $398,671 $29,270 N $1,034,079 $0 $0 $107,125 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $777,947 $845,904 $450,090 $10,021 N $777,947 $0 $0 $99,191 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $920,254 $829,407 $517,217 $9,191 N $920,254 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $899,711 $666,213 $527,861 $110,682 N $899,711 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis

    1329 E CARY ST STE 202
    RICHMOND, VA 23219-4142