November 19, 2015

Six Winners of the 2015 NewDEAL ‘New Ideas Challenge’ Lauded for their Innovative Policy Solutions

Prestigious Judges Choose Winning Ideas from South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, CA Sen. Bob Hertzberg, TX Rep Eric Johnson, MD Delegate Andrew Platt, AR Rep. Warwick Sabin


Washington, D.C. 

Today at an awards ceremony in Washington DC, the 2015 winners of the NewDEAL New Ideas Challenge were announced and praised for their innovative policy solutions.  NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders) is a national network of pro-growth progressive state and local elected officials working to expand opportunity in the changing economy.  The winners --- whose ideas were chosen from a competitive field of over 70 submissions – are: South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Cook County, Illinois Commissioner Bridget Gainer; California State Senator Robert Hertzberg; Texas Representative Eric Johnson; Maryland Delegate Andrew Platt; and Arkansas Representative Warwick Sabin. 

The second New Ideas Challenge gives recognition to smart, pro-growth progressive solutions that are being developed and tested by state and local leaders all across the country. At a time of national gridlock, this network of leaders is offering innovative solutions from the front lines of government. All of the idea submissions can be found here:

“Everyday, the pro-growth progressive leaders who are a part of the NewDEAL network are championing ideas to modernize government for the 21st century. These exceptional winners of the New Ideas Challenge have impressed us with innovative solutions to grow the economy and expand opportunity for all, “ said Governor Jack Markell, Honorary Co-Chair of NewDEAL.

“I congratulate these leaders not only for the results-driven ideas they’re championing locally but also for the ripple effect they’ll create in communities across the country,” said Senator Mark Warner, Honorary Co-Chair of NewDEAL. 

Selected for his work in improving communication between citizens and their local government, South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg helped launch S.BEND reports, a system that breakdowns big data on the performance of city services into more manageable and relevant information for residents.  S. BEND Reports gives residents actual data about the city services performed in their neighborhoods, allowing them to compare the efforts to those of other neighborhoods while providing an accountability metric for their elected leaders. “Our administration works every day to develop innovative ideas that help residents, and it’s great to when these efforts are recognized by a wider audience,” said Mayor Buttigieg. 

Cook County IL County Commissioner Bridget Gainer was chosen for her work in establishing the Cook County Land Bank, a public private partnership designed to develop vacant land and find new uses for abandoned buildings.  Since 2013 the Land Bank’s has helped reverse the cycle of neighborhood decline and promote economic development and neighborhood stabilization.  “The New Deal New Ideas Challenge is about elevating the best ideas in local government & public private partnerships and it is a honor for the Cook County Land Bank to be included,” said Commissioner Gainer.  

California State Senator Bob Hertzberg won for his new plan to help improve how Western states trade and integrate renewable energy resources, like solar, wind, geothermal and others. His plan would guide the development of a new regional electricity market and grid operator to manage diverse needs across the West. “I’m humbled that NewDEAL is sharing with policy leaders nationwide my plan to allow power users to share across state lines, ensuring greater access to more reliable and less expensive sources of renewable energy to fight climate change,” Sen. Hertzberg said.  

The judges selected Texas State Representative Eric Johnson for his legislation to create a more flexible crowdfunding regulation requirements for a specific class of small business development entities that serve historically underfunded businesses. By allowing these businesses to leverage crowdfunding through less intrusive requirements, they can maximize their impact on small businesses and boost the economic impact around Texas.  “As a long time proponent of entrepreneurship as an anti-poverty strategy, I am excited that an idea I worked on with members of Texas' small and historically underutilized business lending community is being recognized at the national level,” Representative Johnson said.  

Delegate Andrew Platt of Gaithersburg, Maryland, won for his Evidence Based Policy – College Financial Aid Access proposal to use tax preparation assistance services to help families with the cumbersome and intimidating financial aid form (called FASFA), creating a state grant program to cover the cost to the service provider. This plan allows families to house many of their important financial decisions and documents in one service provider, and gives students someone who can assist them in navigating a complex federal aid application. "It's an honor to win this award and to get to work with some many smart and innovative elected officials to grow opportunity and progress," said Delegate Platt.  

Arkansas State Representative Warwick Sabin from Little Rock, AR was awarded for his commitment to making the Arkansas tax system more fair.  Currently households at the state income average and below pay nearly twice the percentage of taxes paid by those in the top 20 percent.  Sabin’s Working Families Opportunity Act would institute a state version of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit -- the nation’s most effective tool for reducing poverty among working families and children.  "I am very honored to receive this national recognition for the Working Families Opportunity Act, and I hope that it will create additional momentum that will lead to the adoption of this policy in Arkansas and other states so that more hard-working Americans can better support themselves and their families," said Representative Sabin.  

These six winners were chosen by an esteemed panel of judges who are thought leaders in the policy arena: Ambassador Anne Slaughter Andrew, Founder & Chairman, TerViva; Mark Begich, Former U.S. Senator, Alaska; Steve Glickman, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Economic Innovation Group; Kathleen Rice, U.S.Congresswoman (NY-4); Anne-Marie Slaughter, President & CEO, New America; and Angel Taveras, Bloomberg Mayors Challenge Winner & Former Providence (RI) Mayor.

More info about the NewDEAL including dozens of other policy solutions can be found at

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