Put People First movement encourages participation in budget

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To the Editor,

After advocating for meaningful public participation in the state’s budget development process, the People’s Budget Campaign today cautiously welcomed the Administration’s announcement of two public participation hearings via Vermont Interactive Technologies (VIT) sites.
The Campaign, which is part of the Put People First movement spearheaded by the Vermont Workers’ Center, stressed that a public participation process is now a legal requirement, resulting from a new provision in Vermont law. The new law, a key Campaign achievement in the 2012 legislative session, set an October 1 deadline for the Administration to design and implement a public participation process for developing the state’s spending and revenue policies.
Participation from the people is crucial to ensure that people’s needs are put first, rather than neglected in the drive to cut our budget. We demand a meaningful process of participation, which includes a review of unmet needs. The new legal provision requiring public participation in the budget process was passed as a budget bill amendment pushed by the People’s Budget Campaign. Another provision was also added requiring the state budget to address the people’s needs and advance equity and dignity among Vermont residents (Section E.100.1 of Act 162).
The two sessions will be on November 13 from 5:15-7:30 pm and November 19, from 4:45-6:45 pm. The session on the 13th will be at the following VIT Site:

Vermont Interactive Technologies
1001 College Road
Lyndon State College
PO Box 7954
Lyndonville, VT 05851-7954

Now, more than anytime in recent history, Vermonters, like most Americans, are struggling to achieve a decent standard for the quality
of their lives. With high unemployment, lack rights for the employed, difficulties with housing, child care and health care, Vermonters seem
to have nowhere to turn. However, we at the Vermont Workers Center are here to assist all Vermonters through this difficult time.
The Vermont Workers Center is a grass roots organization designed to unite all Vermonters to speak with one voice and one purpose to the powers that be. We are here to tell them what we need and what we feel is in our best interests as citizens of the Green Mountain State. As such, we have already achieved a major victory by pushing the new health care bill to getting passed into law and the new provisions in the budgeting process. However, we cannot effect such changes alone. The struggle to address the other issues that beat down society still need to be addressed. As such, we are asking every Vermonter, regardless of political and religious affiliation, to band together as Vermonters and join us in the fight to put people first. With that said, We would like you to join us at the State Budget Hearings at Vermont Interactive Technologies, So that you too may voice what your concerns about our state meeting your fundamental needs.
In 2011, the launch of the Put People First! Campaign was meant to begin to get our communities organized across issue areas so that together we will be able to fashion structural solutions to the problems in our communities. Many folks in Vermont are struggling to be able to meet their fundamental needs in order to live a life with dignity. It is often a struggle to access the healthcare one needs, find decent housing, receive affordable childcare, find a meaningful job that pays the bills, or be able to organize at the workplace, all the while our communities are working in the face of climate change for a healthy environment and livable planet.
The more and more conditions worsen, Vermont residents are beginning to realize that these are not problems that exist in isolation to one another. The common root causes of these crises are becoming quite clear to our communities. We are beginning to understand that so long as we struggle in isolation from one another we may experience victories but ultimately fall short of our goal. We must build power as a movement to fashion solutions that make our visions a reality.
The Budget Hearings are an opportunity for members of our community can assess the legislature, directly. We will be able to let them know about the issues that affect us and how we feel the budget should meet our needs on these issues. However, more importantly, we will have the opportunity to express to them what we, as citizens of Vermont, need for the betterment of our society. It is a place where we can speak with one voice and let them know directly that we want them to Put People First, above all other concerns.
Now is the time to show them that the Vermont Workers’ Center, and many other social organizations are creating a space for our communities to discuss the issues we struggle to change and work together to create an inclusive vision and make action steps toward the realization of that common vision. Please join us at the Budget Hearings November 13 from 5:15-7:30 pm and November 19, from 4:45-6:45 pm.
Remember, we cannot fight inequities and injustice alone. There is great truth in the phrase “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” We look forward to seeing you there. Thank you.

Marc McCullock
Representative of the Vermont Workers Center
St. Johnsbury, VT

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