Remarks at the
State House 18 Press Conference, July 23
Eighteen people were arrested at the State House on June 30 during a demonstration at which they tried to present legislators with letters calling for a fair budget. On July 23 they assembled on the State House steps with some supporters for a brief rally before going to a pre-trail hearing. Below is a transcript of some of the remarks made at the rally.
Raising the Banner
Chuck Turner: Who needs to raise the revenues?
Crowd: “Our legislators!”
Chuck: Who needs to raise the revenues?
Crowd: “Our legislators!”
Chuck: “Well, if they’re not going to raise it, we’re going to give them an example of how revenue can be raised so that they can then follow the people. So let’s raise the revenue!”
(Banner was then raised)
Remarks of Speakers
All of you have been around for the efforts that have been going on. We’ve been out here time and time again. We did lobby days. We’ve written letters. We’ve phoned our legislators. We’ve tried over and over and over again to take this message- “Raise the revenue” – to the State House. It’s unfortunate we need to go to these extremes to get our message across. But this is what it takes. It’s going to take persistence, communication, persistent struggling in order to get this message through. We need to maintain our efforts. That’s why we made the sacrifice on June 30th [of being arrested].
We have a pre-trial hearing this morning at nine o’ clock. We encourage you all to come down to the courthouse to support us. But the reason we’re here is because we feel that it’s our responsibility to do something about this crisis. It’s not going to be solved by people in the State House.
You know, when we came here on April 30th, Lobby Day, legislators and their aids would often turn to us and say “Well, what can we do to raise the revenue?”
How many people think we can close corporate loopholes and raise the revenue?
We can do that, and there are other things we can do. We could also put a tax on intangible property. Most of the wealthiest people in society pay the least under the current tax code in Massachusetts, and they have most of their wealth in intangible properties: stocks and bonds. Kentucky and Florida have put a small tax on intangible property and raised tremendous amounts of revenue.
There are lots of different options, so we need to keep driving home the different options to our legislators. We need to keep holding them accountable. We need to keep communicating our voice and our argument in order to get this message across.
I was one of the State House 18. I was arrested with Michael and Chuck and all these other people on June 30th. I and Caroline and another woman ended up spending the night in the Milton Police Barracks. In the morning we came back up to the courthouse and we spent about 2 1/2 or 3 hours in a holding cell while we waited for our arraignment.
While we were in that holding cell we had the opportunity to meet and talk with six women, all of whom are dealing with drug addiction. They are in different stages of the legal system. They are either coming from Framingham State hoping to get into one of the few programs that are left for detox or rehab, or they are picked up because of drugs, either selling drugs or taking drugs, prostituting themselves for drugs or shoplifting for drugs. The cost of incarceration is three times higher than drug rehab programs and job training and those programs are more effective.
It was very perplexing for me to be in that cell with these six women and to see them suffering and to know that they know that the state is cutting all these funds. Detox beds were cut in the last year from about 1,000 down to 400. And in South Boston alone they think that 12 youths have died from drug overdoses and 45 have attempted to commit suicide because of drugs.
So we need to restore some funding. Our legislators have turned their backs on the people and we have to somehow get them back representing us or vote them out. So please come with us for our pre-trial hearing and for a march downtown. Help us to educate, educate your friends, your family and just keep spreading the word.
My name is Bruce Blazetell, I’m the executive director of the Unitarian-Universalist Urban Ministry, the oldest faith-based social action organization in the country. We operate one of the oldest domestic violence shelters in Boston.
The budget cuts are hurting shelters for women and children, and the victims of domestic abuse. In the 23 years that our shelters have been open we estimate we have touched the lives of over 1,000 women and children. It is people like these, vulnerable women and children, who are going to be hurt by these budget cuts.
I encourage our legislature to show some leadership, to stand up and say we need to raise the revenue to maintain the quality of life here in Massachusetts. The amount of the benefit of the tax cuts that have been given to the average person is tiny. I personally am willing to give up the couple hundred dollars of benefits of tax cuts to myself in order to maintain the network of essential services. And I believe that most people in Massachusetts agree with that. So, where is the leadership from the legislature representing the will of most of the people in Massachusetts? Please join us, thank you.
Dan the Bagel Man (Food not Bombs)
Nationally there are 6 million homeless. Next year there will be 8 million homeless. We’re cutting services across the state for poor people and yet they’re trying to get a pay raise by us for the legislature – luckily they stopped it.
We have to put money back into helping the poor. Right now there are people sleeping in hotels because there is no room in the inn; the shelters are full. People are sleeping outdoors in the summertime and the shelters are still full and that’s not normal. And last winter at Pine Street Inn, you go there to drop off food and people are sleeping on the aisles.
I’m here today to say enough’s enough. Shame on the Legislature – shame on the Governor. Raise the revenue for all people of the state no matter where they come from, no matter who they are. Everybody deserves a chance to live.
I want to thank all of you who came out to join us, we urge you to follow us to the courthouse so that the judge and all the courthouse understand that it’s not just 18 people who stood up for a fair taxation system, but it’s the people of Massachusetts that understand that we need a fair taxation system. We’re here today talking about short-term action that the legislature needs to take in order to make sure that all the devastation that we see outlined on the side can be ended and we can go into this next fiscal year with a sense of honor and dignity.
However, what we also have to understand is that stopping the cuts, and raising revenue this year is not enough. We need the people of the state to put on the ballot a program that would be a foundation for fair taxation. We need a graduated income tax in Massachusetts. We need an income tax that will take from those who have more and share with those who have less. We don’t have a graduated income tax because of the corporations who for the last 30 years have tried to fool the people of Massachusetts every time the issue has been put on the ballot. But we can stop them. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our children, we owe it to future generations to create a fair taxation system. And the only way we can do that is to establish a graduated income tax as the basis of that system.
So our work continues and continues on pressuring the legislature, but we have to get out into our neighborhoods, into our communities, and help the people of this state understand what needs to be done in order to make sure the revenues of this state are shared fairly with all. So thank you for coming and lets go down to the court, the judge is waiting for us.