Aug 11, 2003
Democrats and Republicans in California agreed to cut the state budget by an additional seven billion dollars, coming on top of earlier cuts this year in social programs, education and public services. State workers will give up scheduled pay raises, while 16,000 of them will lose their jobs.
In Illinois, the state closed mental health facilities and veterans affairs offices, while reducing funding to cities – which, in turn, cut funding to fire, sanitation, health, water and public works.
In Maryland, the Republican governor and the Democratic state legislature agreed on a budget that featured 3000 job cuts, as well as a 200 million dollar budget reduction, most of it taken from education and the health department.
In Michigan, the Democratic governor conspired with the Republican legislature to cut adult education and revenue sharing to cities – which will mean further cuts in fire and emergency services, in street repairs, in public health services. The heads of the two parties also reiterated their agreement to take 230 million dollars worth of concessions from state workers.
In state after state, city after city, it's the same story. Governors, no matter from which party, declare their state is in the midst of a critical financial "crisis." Put them all together, and the state deficits are supposed to total 80 billion dollars.
The states don't have enough revenue to pay the bills – or so they say – it's belt tightening time.
Yeah, sure – but when they tighten belts, it's only our waists that get pinched.
Government officials today would put Enron to shame, the way they regularly produce falsified account books. If they have such big deficits, how are they able to keep giving away so much money?
At the very moment that Michigan officials, for example, were demanding over 200 million dollars in concessions from state workers, they were offering to give Boeing 300 million. And what they declared the total state deficit to be – 1.7 billion dollars – is only a tiny portion of the 15 billion that the state BRAGS it has given away to big corporations in subsidies and tax credits.
One thing is true: states have reduced their sources of revenue in recent years. There's hardly a state which hasn't cut taxes – and just like the cuts that Bush pushed through on the federal level, the vast majority of tax cuts went to the corporations or to the wealthiest tax payers.
Those tax cuts, tax loopholes, and subsidies to the corporations are what caused the current budget crisis. Without them, there would be more than enough money to cover all the supposed deficits that exist.
If politicians from the two big parties were serious about dealing with their so-called "budget crisis," they would have rescinded the tax breaks to the wealthy. In fact, they would make the wealthy pay more than they ever did. Right now, they don't pay proportionate to their income. In Illinois, for example, the poorest 20% of the work force pay 13% of their income in state taxes, while the wealthiest one% pay only 4%. The same inequality exists in every single state.
This budget crisis could be solved overnight, by making the wealthy pay proportionate to their wealth. Instead, the states, one after another, are raising fees and taxes on consumption – the kinds of taxes that take proportionately more from the income of an ordinary worker than from the income of the wealthy.
It's outrageous that the people who do the work should be penalized so more money can go to the wealthy. No more!
No state workers should give up a single dime in concessions. No worker still on the job should lift a finger to cover the jobs of workers who were tossed aside. City neighborhoods don't have to accept cutbacks in fire protection, nor in schools. There are ways to create a big fuss over such issues and there are lots of people in every neighborhood who know how to do it, if they decide to bring other people with them.
Put the wealthy in a corner – and their politicians along with them. Refuse their demands.