Grandmother and community activist Gina Owens describes how state budget cuts to essential services are delivering a double, even triple whammy that threatens her family’s health and security. She asks, why are poor people paying taxes and suffering the effects of service cutbacks, while we are giving away money to tax-dodging, super-wealthy banks?
Marcelas Owens, who participated in the 50-mile People’s Walk for Our Future with his grandmother Gina Owens, delivers a rap on the Capitol steps summing up part of what’s upside-down with our state budget.
Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, spoke to People’s Walk participants before delivering a tax bill to the tax-dodging Bank of America. The People’s Walk called upon the Washington State Legislature to protect essential healthcare, education and housing services that benefit vulnerable and poor people throughout our state.
On April 18, tax day, the 50-mile People’s Walk for Our Future arrives at the Washington State Capitol to tell legislators: it is immoral to cut essential services such as healthcare, education and housing, while extending frivolous tax breaks to wealthy banks and corporations.
We will reach the Capitol steps at 11:30 and meet a group of supportive lawmakers–some of whom are backing legislation which would curb tax breaks and divert funds to support healthcare, mental health and education funding.
At noon, we will join faith leaders at the Capitol sundial, as they launch a public fast in opposition to what they, and we, term an immoral budget. From a Church Council statement:
The 2011-2013 state budget proposals create a moral crisis because they cut off thousands of children and adults from health care, severely reduce the lifeline for the poor and disabled, take away food from the most vulnerable and unravel services for seniors, while revenue options remain unexplored and corporate tax breaks continue unabated without legislative review. A budget balanced in large part on the backs of the poor is unjust.
To Reverend Bev Spears, a state budget is a moral document–and the Washington State budget proposals from Governor Gregoire and our state legislature fall woefully short by withdrawing essential services from vulnerable people.
Spears explains why she is spending her day on Palm Sunday taking part in the People’s Walk for Our Future, and why, during the rest of Holy Week, she will be fasting at the Capitol alongside other Washington faith leaders.
Theresa Guerrero, president of Our Washington, explains why she is walking to Olympia as part of the People’s Walk for Our Future.
On Saturday, the 50-mile People’s Walk for Our Future doubled in size as more Washingtonians affected by devastating budget cuts joined the walk to demand that lawmaker pass a moral and just budget.
The faith leaders, working people and community allies taking part in the People’s Walk have taken to the streets to protest billions of dollars the State Legislature intends to cut from health care, disability lifeline, housing, public safety, education, and environmental protection programs—while leaving intact and unexamined frivolous tax loopholes benefiting wealthy interests.
Saturday’s route took the walkers from Pierce College in Lakewood south into Thurston County, gaining ground on the walk’s final destination, the State Capitol. At Pierce College, the People’s Walk called particular attention to the impact of proposed education cuts.
Caleb Hollatz, a student at South Puget Sound Community College, joined the marchers. “I am walking with the People’s Walk for Our Future because of the way budget cuts are affecting my life. I am a student and budget cuts have made it nearly impossible for me to finish my studies. Rising tuition costs, dwindling financial aid. I can’t even get into the classes I need to continue my studies because classes have been cut. I am paying more and getting less for my education and it needs to stop. I want my lawmakers to close tax loopholes and protect students instead of private jets and Botox.”
Madge Rojas also joined the People’s Walk on Day 3. “I am a Spanish and Portuguese medical interpreter and I am walking today for all my patients and for other interpreters. Medical interpreters are an integral part of our health care system because they can make the difference between a life and death situation. It’s incredible for me to think that lawmakers are having a hard time choosing between tax breaks for Wall Street banks and keeping health care services for low-income families. It’s immoral to deny people the right to communicate with their doctor, and in the end it hurts the patient and increases medical costs for all.”
On Sunday, walk participants expect to tackle 10 more miles, getting closer and closer to the state capitol. Day 4 of the walk will begin at 10am Sunday at the Wal-Mart Super Center in Lacey (1401 Galaxy Dr. NE) to call attention to Wal-Mart’s immoral work policies. On Monday, the walkers will arrive at 12pm at the Capitol for Inter-Denominational Church Service on the budget and fast.