Speeches from June 25 Fair Budget Rally
at the State House
Buenas Tardes. Good afternoon. My name is Giovanna Negreti. I represent Oiste which is the first state-wide Latino political organization in this state. We have 4,000 members state-wide and our staff is over there; I want you guys to meet Will, and Carmen, and Maria.
We are very happy to be here with all of you in solidarity on this very important day because I think that as Latinos in the State of Mass we truly believe that this budget is disproportionately affecting our communities, our community based organizations which are shutting down daily across the state. 75-85% of our budgets at community based organizations and health centers are being cut. Our schools are a mess and I can just go on and on and on in terms of how this is really effecting our Latino community across the state which is about the poorest in the state.
And as the first and only Latino political organization it is our responsibility to be here in protest to this atrocity that this Legislature enacted in the 2004 budget. The legislature and the governor should find the fortitude to make a budget that would increase the quality of life of all the citizens of Massachusetts – and that is their responsibility as elected officials. It’s their responsibility as people and human beings in this world. So I call upon them not only as elected officials but as human beings to raise these taxes although it is unpopular and make sure that everybody has the quality of life that we all deserve. Thank you very much.
David Noiles.Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP), and
Alternatives for Community and Environment.
Thank You. What I’d like to say is that the budget cuts are affecting particularly the summer jobs. There are practically no summer jobs for youth this summer, I mean, there are 2000 youth that are out of a job. At REEP we’re trying to hire as many as we can, but we’re only a non-profit organization – we can only do so much.
And after the budget cut hits, teachers are getting fired, they’re getting laid off. And they are giving out this standardized test called the MCAS which nobody can really pass. They cut off the tutoring for the MCAS, so therefore, what can they do? There are a lot of students that didn’t pass this year. They got a certificate of attendance but they didn’t get their high school diploma just because of this MCAS and we really don’t think that’s fair.
And we’re going to address these issues about the budget cuts and everything like that at our Annual Youth Summit that happens July 25th. We invited the Mayor but he said he’s busy, we invited the Governor he says he’s busy, know what I mean? But we’re trying to get representatives from them to come out along with Jill Stein, she’ll come out, Chuck Turner and everybody, so we can have a partner event because we feel that a lot of youth are not informed. And it’s at times like this that they need to be informed, because with more people, there’s more power. I think that everybody down here’s doing a really good job, a great job, and we all know that REEP’s behind it, ACE is behind it, and we are willing to fight until this stuff gets situated correctly. Thank You.
Peter Knowlton President of United Electrical Workers
My name is Peter Knowlton and just on behalf of our union we want to lend our full support to the Fair Budget Coalition. A wave of common sense is flying throughout the commonwealth; it is now caught on like fire in the state capital and that’s the issue of fair taxes. And that’s why we are all here. Everybody understands and believes that there’s a different way that we can distribute the money and the surplus that we create as working people, both in the public and private sector. There are ways we can raise revenue to provide for the needs of health care, education, of our children, of health care of our elderly, and taking care of all the common good of the people of Massachusetts.
And that different way of distribution is not just based upon income but is based upon certain concepts. A cousin of mine happens to be blind. He’s been blind his whole life and he’s a very low-income person. As a blind person you have the right, with particular documentation, to be able to send mail for free throughout the domestic USA. And the day before yesterday, when for blind and handicapped people, Certificates that permit this have always been given out free as a public service. It’s a recognition that most people who are blind and handicapped do not have the same abilities nor same advantages of those of us who are sighted and therefore end up taking lower paying and in some cases more menial jobs. Those certificates have been free. Now the state and the agencies that administer that plan are talking about imposing a fee of 10 dollars a year. That may not seem like a lot of money to some people, but the folks who are on a fixed income who don’t have much hope of being able to elevate themselves, that’s a huge sacrifice for them.
The point is the way the legislators and the administrators and the bureaucrats and those in suits, not counting Felix here, are thinking about ways to raise revenue is to raise it off of the backs of the people who aren’t in the bureaucracy , those people who aren’t elected officials, those people who don’t wear a coat and tie to work and make six figure salaries. They go after revenues from those people who don’t have a voice, those people in desperate situations, those people who don’t have the resources to unify, for those people that are disadvantaged. And that’s what’s wrong about the present situation. They have the choice to raise the revenue fairly but they choose not to. But we’re going to demand otherwise. Thank You.