I had the honor this summer of volunteering to gather 200 signatures to put the “Budget for All” referendum question on the Nov. 6 ballot. With clipboard and petition papers in hand, I spoke to voters at Stop & Shop in Vinnin Square, local farmers’ markets; Market Basket; anywhere I saw large crowds. By late July, the Secretary of State’s office certified the signatures. I had reached my quota! The non-binding referendum would be on ballots in Marblehead, Swampscott and parts of Lynn.
What I accomplished (with the help of my daughter) here in the 8th Essex District was duplicated by a grass roots army of volunteers all over the state who got 25,000 signatures. The massive effort assures that the “Budget for All” ballot question will appear before one million Massachusetts voters in 24 state representative districts and eight state senate districts encompassing 91 cities and towns.
So, on Nov. 6, Bay State voters will be given the unique opportunity to have their voices heard on what the presidential candidates are dwelling on: how to reverse the decline of the middle class and create the jobs that Americans desperately need.
Twenty-three Massachusetts lawmakers have joined four U.S. congressmen in giving their support for the non-binding “Budget for All,” which challenges the program cuts and austerity budgets now being discussed in Washington. Because the huge federal deficits were caused by a combination of unconscionable tax breaks for large corporations and extremely high incomes, a Pentagon budget out of proportion to what the country can afford, the financial crisis caused by Wall Street and the spiraling cost of health care, the “Budget For All” ballot question supports cuts to programs that caused the deficit rather than to Social Security, Medicare and other vital programs that played no part in it.
By checking Yes on the “Budget For All,” you will be sending a different message to Washington: no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Veterans benefits and other vital programs; invest in useful jobs such as manufacturing, housing, transportation and renewable energy; end offshore tax havens and tax cuts on incomes over $250,000; reduce the military budget and bring all troops home safely from Afghanistan now.
In his letter of support for the referendum, Congressman Barney Frank referred to the “deeply-flawed” spending priorities of the federal government. "The math is compelling,” he said. “If we do not make reductions approximating 25 percent of the military budget starting fairly soon, it will be impossible to continue to fund an adequate level of domestic activity even with a repeal of Bush's tax cuts for the very wealthy.”
He added that it is possible to make substantial cuts to the military budget without diminishing American security, which “is far more endangered by a proposal for substantial reductions in Medicare, Social Security or other important domestic areas than it would be by canceling weapons systems that have no justification from any threat we are likely to face."
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s 2011 Yearbook, the amount budgeted for military spending in the U.S. in 2011 was $711 billion — more than the combined military budgets of the next highest spenders: China, Russia, U.K., France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, Australia, Canada and Turkey combined.
Congressmen Frank, Michael Capuano, Ed Markey and James McGovern are joined in their support of the ballot question by eight state senators including Sal DeDomenico of Everett and Thomas McGee of Lynn and 15 state representatives. The full list of Massachusetts elected officials who support the “Budget for All” ballot question may be found at:www.budget4allmass.org/supporters.
The “Budget for All” ballot question is sponsored by 50 social action and peace organizations and supported by growing number of legislators and municipal officials.
Please join me in checking YES on question number 5 on November 6. Let’s send a message to Washington that these are the priorities that matter.