Coalition Rallies in Worcester to Call for More Local Investment
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
The event was part of a statewide push by the coalition behind the Campaign for Our Communities that will culminate in a rally outside the State House on Tuesday to call for a broad-based tax increase to improve and enhance the state's education, infrastructure and economic development.
"It is extremely important that we find ways to continue investing in our communities and enhance our quality of life," said Wendolyn Olivera of Worcester, a member of Neighbor to Neighbor.
"As a single working mother of four, I need access to affordable child care and afterschool programs so I can work to support my children and continue being self-sufficient."
In Worcester, local aid has taken a nosedive in recent years and is down 47.7 percent from $74.17 million in 2000 to $38.76 million in 2012.
"As front-line healthcare providers, we see firsthand the impact cuts due to budget constraints have had to vital healthcare services," said Lynne Starbard, a registered nurse at UMass Memorial Medical Center and member of the Mass. Nurses Association. "These cuts deprive people of access to the treatment and care they need. We strongly believe that a fair and balanced revenue increase will infuse greatly needed funds to protect and restore these crucial services."
State Rep. James O'Day (D-West Boylston), who was also in attendance, introduced the Act to Invest in Our Communities in the Legislature two years ago, which would restore the state's income tax rate to 5.95 percent from 5.25 percent and provide the revenue necessary to stop the cuts to many public services.
Last May, the Worcester City Council passed a resolution calling on Governor Deval Patrick and the Legislature to support a tax reform plan that would generate new revenues without hitting low- and middle-income families or seniors with big increases.
O'Day called Patrick's budget proposal, which would raise the income tax rate to 6.25 percent, "very, very bold" and applauded the Governor's aggressive approach that has provided the opportunity for a serious conversation about the issues that were first raised with O'Day's own bill.
"I think we have a great opportunity to go forward with this but we can't sit on our hands," O'Day said, noting that House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) has not closed the door completely on raising revenues.
State Rep. Mary Keefe (D-Worcester) said the House progressive caucus has been organizing to put together the votes needed to pass the bill and to meet with Speaker DeLeo.
"Investing in our communities has such an enormous impact in every community," said District 2 City Councilor Phil Palmieri, placing particular emphasis on the need for investment in neighborhood schools.
According to Frank Karthieser of Worcester Interfaith, the youth unemployment rate in Mass. is the highest it has ever been, and young men, especialy young men of color, are having a lot of trouble finding work. With hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in development in Downtown Worcester, said Karthieser, officials needs to find a way to direct some of that employment to the young adult population.
Members of the SEIU, Mass Teachers and Worcester Unemployment Action Group were also in attendance at Monday's rally.
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