Tax Day Forum Boosts “People’s Budget”
This article by Paul Shannon appeared in our summer 2015 MAPA newsletter.
On Saturday, April 11 the Budget for All Coalition brought together speakers from 21 social justice, climate, peace, environmental, community and labor rights groups for its annual Tax Day rally and forum. They included Barbara Madeloni (president of the Mass. Teachers Association), Richard Stutman (president of the Boston Teachers Union), Quinton Zondervan from the Better Future Project, Toni Bee from Black Lives Matter, Carolyn Federoff (Vice President, Mass. AFL-CIO) as well as representatives from Fight for 15, SEIU 1199, the Worcester Unemployment Action group, the Mass. Alliance of HUD Tenants, the Mass. Sierra Club, Mass. Senior Action, the American Friends Service Committee, Health Justice for Boston, Homes for Families, MoveOn.org, and Council for a Livable World.
These organizations were joined at Old South Church by Mel King, Grace Ross, State Senators Jason Lewis and Jamie Eldridge, State Rep. Jay Livingstone, Jill Stein and comedian Jimmy Tingle to give voice to the agenda of the Budget for All Campaign: Prevent cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, housing, food and unemployment assistance; invest in good jobs in education, renewable energy and mass transit; fund these programs by ending corporate and high income tax breaks; reduce the Pentagon budget and bring the troops home.
This is the agenda that was placed on the ballot in 2012 in 91 cities and towns across the state in a massive grassroots effort carried out by 80 organizations. Everywhere up and down the state, this people’s agenda won by margins of 2 to 1, 3 to 1 or even 4 to 1.
The Tax Day event was part of an effort to build the Budget for All campaign into a crossroads in Massachusetts, where numerous social movement groups connect up with each other around a shared agenda related to the Federal Budget. All of our groups are going to be impacted by major Federal budget decisions, so we need a vehicle to oppose the austerity budgets coming out of Washington and to promote a prosperity budget instead.
This work is especially important now. With the new Republican Congress, ominous budget discussions loom in which proposals are being made to eviscerate vital programs, increase military spending, and slash environmental protection and efforts to combat climate change. As these plans take shape, the Budget for All Campaign is seeking to reinvigorate its coalition, involving as many people as possible in holding high the banner of a common sense and moral alternative to the austerity and militaristic budgets that are now being proposed.
One strategy we will pursue in the coming year will be to develop a relationship with groups in other states who have “move the money” campaigns and with the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) so that we are in a position to have a more coordinated and powerful mobilization around the CPC’s “Peoples Budget” next year.
In addition, the Budget for All Resolution has been filed in the State Senate as S.1906 and in the House of Representatives as H.3144. We will try once again to create an event around the public hearing for the bill, which will allows us to involve a broad range of groups in the effort to get the bill passed this year and mobilize public sentiment for a common sense budget that undergirds a society in which there is a place for everyone.
If your church social justice committee, community group, or labor union is ready to get involved with the Budget for All coalition or would like a speaker at your meeting, please contact Cole Harrison (MAPA) at 617-354-2169 or Paul Shannon (AFSC) at 617-623-5288.