MCHC News Release
April 24, 2003
Legislature’s Budget is Unwise and Unfair
The state budget recently released by the House Ways and Means Committee is “a triumph of special interests over the urgent needs of the people of Massachusetts” according to Jill Stein, President of Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities.
Stein said that the draconian cuts inflicted by the proposed budget will undermine health, education, and the prospects of a better future for vast numbers of residents of the Commonwealth. She asserted that the proposed new fees are equivalent to tax shifting and would make an unfair tax system even more unfair. Stein said that the Legislature is ignoring opportunities for raising over $2 billion in additional state revenues by closing loopholes and making the current tax system fairer.
Stein called upon voters to let their legislators know that they want greater tax fairness, not new fees and service cuts. She urged voters to join with more than 30 public interest groups in an all-day lobbying effort on April 30 at the State House that will culminate in a 2 p.m. rally. This rally is expected to draw thousands of people who will ask the Legislature to eliminate the budget shortfall and prevent cuts to vital services.
The Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities is a new nonpartisan public interest group founded by Dr. Stein, who was the gubernatorial candidate for the Massachusetts Green Party in 2003. For the past month MCHC has been working with a major coalition of labor and public interest groups seeking to preserve essential state programs in education, health and human services, environmental protection, and public safety.
The text of Dr. Stein’s remarks follow.
Remarks on the House Ways & Means FY04 Budget
by Dr. Jill Stein, April 23, 2003
The budget released today by the House Ways and Means Committee undermines health, education and the environment, and represents a triumph of special interests over the urgent needs of the people of Massachusetts
The budget cuts being proposed are unwise, unfair, and unnecessary. They are unwise because they undermine the foundations of our prosperity – education, our social fabric and the environment. The budget cuts will cost us jobs and make Massachusetts a less desirable place to live and work. They are unfair because they impose new fees, and service cuts upon those citizens who have been paying more than their fair share of taxes for years, and who have the least ability to turn elsewhere to replace the losses. They are unnecessary, because we have the financial resources to support vital services. We are the one of the wealthiest states in the wealthiest nation in the world. We don’t lack wealth – we lack only commitment to the public interest.
Such a draconian budget can pass only if the public is kept in the dark about credible, just alternatives. So it’s no wonder the House leadership has passed a bill to prevent meaningful debate on new revenues. We at MCHC are working hard to get the word out about a range of fair-tax alternatives that can raise needed revenues by asking those who can most afford it to pay their fair share. And we have joined with numerous other concerned groups to make sure that the people of Massachusetts can hear about fair alternatives to the heartless, misguided budgets proposed by Beacon Hill.
MCHC has identified well over $2 billion in additional revenues that could be produced by closing a variety of tax loopholes and adding narrowly-focused new taxes that would result in the total tax rates paid by the wealthiest taxpayers more closely matching the rates paid by of other taxpayers.
Irrevocable harm is about to be inflicted on our communities, our children, and our future. Yet this tragedy is entirely avoidable if our elected officials act responsibly in the public’s interest by scaling back tax advantages for the well-connected few rather than cutting essential services affecting everyone. The voices of thousands of people all across Massachusetts are speaking up against this misguided, harmful budget, and we urge legislators to listen to them.