Monday, March 15, 2010

VOP Presents Check To Governor's Office After Holding "Bake Sales for the Budget"

The possibility of raising taxes is one that politicians generally try to avoid discussing because they don't want what they say about the topic to be taken out of context and used against them in the next election. The Virginia Organizing Project (VOP), however, held a series of "bake sales for the budget" last Thursday to help prove that many Virginians would be willing to pay a little more if it meant that the crucial services wouldn't have to be severely cut. When delivering a check of $921.01 to the Governor's office, the VOP stressed that they believe the "cuts-only approach to the budget shortfall is irresponsible and will hurt public systems and structures at a time when Virginians need them most."

Of course the VOP wasn't just advocating raising taxes to cover the enormous budget shortfalls that we're facing during these tough economic times. They argued that there needs to be a balance between cuts and changes made to our revenue streams in order to make sure that crucial service can still be provided to the public. Here is what Janice “Jay” Johnson, the Chairperson of VOP, had to say about the topic.
“We are presenting this check today to show that our legislators and our Governor have choices with the state budget. We went out and raised $921.01 in revenue. We wish there could be more zeros behind that number but any small amount of revenue helps.

“We have got to really begin to look at other options for the state of Virginia. We have got to take some serious look, as citizens and as organizations, at the correct approach to this budget crisis. We cannot rely on a cuts-only approach. These cuts touch everybody. This is not about the haves and have-nots. This is about people whose children are disabled who are not going to get the help that they need and about children who will not get a decent education. The cuts are across the board and cutting very deeply.

“When this General Assembly finishes, we will be 'fee’d' to death. What is the difference between charging a million little fees and raising taxes? If it comes out of your pocket, it doesn’t matter if it comes out of the left or the right. It’s still coming out. My grandfather had a saying: If you keep cutting off your wooden porch to feed your fire, eventually you are going to burn your house down. That is where we are in the state of Virginia. We are burning our house down.”
Now I don't know how realistic it is to actually think that we will see politicians in Virginia openly advocating for a lot of revenue increases, especially considering how conservative the Republican controlled House of Delegates has become and how some politicians are afraid of being confronted by Tea Party activists, but I do think these "bake sales for the budget" were a creative way to get some discussion started about the topic. After all, the VOP isn't advocating for taxing people to death, but simply wants our elected officials to consider a balanced approach when trying to decide how to move forward on budget related issues.

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