Coalition of Groups Calls State Budget A Disaster –
Calls for Legislature and Governor to “Fix It Now!”
by Tim Miley
BOSTON, June 25 – Undaunted by the sweltering heat and blazing sun, a determined group of about 70 demonstrators rallied in front of the State House on June 25, declaring the state budget a “disaster”. The demonstrators, many of whom dressed in black, held “RIP” gravestone signs testifying to the “death” of a broad spectrum of essential programs – from schools to jobs to affordable housing and health care.
Signs saying “Fix It Now,” “Write A Budget For the People, Not the Special Interests” and “Cut Tax Loopholes for the Wealthy, Not Vital Services For the Commonwealth” elicited a steady stream of approving honks, thumbs up and “V” signs as those passing by signaled overwhelming agreement. One or two passerby said they did not want their taxes raised.
Speakers in the “Fix It Now!” rally called on the legislature and Governor to produce a budget that will fund all vital services through a system of fair taxation.
“This budget cuts drastically into core services – something the governor promised he would not do,” said Giovanna Negretti, executive director of Oiste, The Latino Political Organization – a group working to raise political awareness and participation among the state’s Latino population. “The lack of political fortitude by both the legislature and governor will cause enormous, needless pain. This crisis can be avoided if they raise revenue fairly.”
“This budget is a disaster for our communities,” said Kathy Tsioulcas, a senior citizen from Dorchester. “We’re closing schools, firing police, jacking up fees, laying off nurses, and cutting back on health care. The governor and the legislature bear direct responsibility for these cuts, and we’re not going to let them off the hook. This is not just about quality of life – this is about life itself. The penalties to be paid in the future – in dollars and suffering – will be far greater than the costs of funding these critical services now.”
“We’re here to break the silence on the budget as it enters the final phase of approval,” said Jill Stein, President of the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities. “And we’re here to say we the people reject this budget that dismantles the foundations of our communities. This budget was written as its chief authors were holding their campaign fundraisers – and it shows. The budget slashes essential services while protecting unfair tax loopholes for powerful special interests. That’s why we’re telling the governor and legislature to start over and write a budget for the people, not the power brokers that are alive and well on Beacon Hill.”
Other speakers at the event represented the wide variety of issues being harmed by the budget. They included:
– Boston City Councilor Felix Arroyo
– Giovanna Negretti, Director of Oiste, the Latino Political Organization
– Peter Knowlton, United Electrical Workers, District Two President
– Elizabeth Mock, President of Unions United, UMass Boston
– Steve Collins, Mass. Humans Services Coalition, Director
– Carol Brill, Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers, Mass. Chapter
– David Noiles, Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project, Organizer
– Steve Meacham, City Life/Vida Urbana, Organizer
– Kathy Tsioulcas, senior citizen, Dorchester
– Elijah Harig Blaine, organizer for the Homeless Emergency Action Task Force
– and Seth Andrew Thompson and Lauren Berthel, students at Bridgewater State College.
It has become clear that many people in Massachusetts do not believe that the state budget is a fair and balanced budget, as the governor and the legislative leadership claim. Nor do they believe that the massive cuts are a “fiscal necessity.” A strong and diverse movement has formed to offer a different answer: implement fair taxation, raise revenues, and fund this state’s vital services. Although largely ignored by the dominant media and the entrenched political leadership, the movement for a fair budget continues to grow through numerous rallies and information campaigns. Those interested in helping this cause are urged to visit www.masschc.org and sign the Fair Taxes Petition.