Across the u.s., the economic meltdown is having a disastrous effect on the state tax revenues that fund vital social services. So the budget ax is swinging in most state capitals, and severe cuts threaten to hit poor and working people hard.
A recent national report conservatively identifies a cumulative gap over two years of at least $137 billion. Fifteen states are forecasting double-digit shortfalls next year, with Arizona and New York facing at least 20 percent.
Grim scenarios are playing out everywhere. Education, parks, libraries, and healthcare aid and other assistance for the poor are all on the chopping block. And this at a time when the need for state services is growing, as shown by Florida’s 49 percent surge in food stamp recipients while it faces a $3 billion budget hole.
It’s time for unions to take point in unifying with community activists and social-service providers to hit the streets to demand taxing corporations and the rich, plus massive aid for state and local governments as part of any stimulus plan.
Students are seeing tuition hikes. Government workers face layoffs, wage cuts and unfunded pensions. Poor people worry about their very survival. All should be fighting together, not lobbying politicians separately. Determined, coordinated action would turn the heat up and begin to force humane solutions to the crisis.