As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, June 05, 2009

Grassroots Progressive Action on Repairing California

It's taken the proposed destruction of practically the entire social safety net in California for progressives both inside and outside the political system to fight back. I'm actually more heartened by the work done outside it. I expect Lenny Goldberg to come up with a great alternative budget calling for tax fairness, and end to corporate welfare and a government for all the people instead of the rich. I expect Jean Ross to do the same, as well as AFSCME. They're all good proposals, but this is what they are paid to do. What I don't expect, and what I haven't seen, is a citizen's movement to rival the institutional and advocacy machinery. The Fix the California Budget Facebook page is really one of the first such grassroots pushes I've seen in recent memory.

Californians deserve real solutions to the budget deficit. Responding to our economic crisis with an all-cuts budget will only make the state's problems worse. Deep cuts to vital programs undermine our economic recovery and President Obama’s investment in economic stimulus, disproportionately harm the most vulnerable Californians, and go against our core values.

More than 70 percent of voters sat out the May 19 special election because it is the Governor and Legislature’s job to fix the budget. Polls show the defeat of the initiatives was neither an endorsement of an all-cuts approach nor a rejection of raising revenues.

Under Governor Schwarzenegger, we have suffered $23 billion in spending cuts in the current budget year alone. Additional drastic cuts will irrevocably change the state we love. Californians support and deserve a state that provides for the common good and the needs of our residents, and we need to pursue realistic revenue solutions that will protect our shared priorities. Cuts are not the only option!

Our state needs courageous leadership. We will support those who stand against an all-cuts budget, speak out for fair ways of raising revenue, and work to deliver a budget that invests in our future and protects all the people of our state. True leaders get their strength from the people they represent. We pledge to be that strength, and mobilize to support a sensible budget solution.

The specific action items are to call your lawmaker and provide that counter-weight to the internal pressure to support the all-cuts approach. They reference the majority-vote fee increase as a legitimate option that must be put before the Governor in place of the worst cuts. County Democratic Chairs and local activists are actually driving the pressure from below, rather than having solutions imposed upon them.

This represents an opportunity. It doesn't mean we win this fight - we're going to lose more than we win at first. And in a way, this is the corporate "reform" community's worst nightmare - the Bay Area Council and California Forward would rather drive the reform process themselves and keep it within their own particular boundaries. But we can build a movement of a newly-roused core group of activists committed to setting California on the right path by restoring democracy, eliminating the conservative veto and reforming the broken system. This is a first step.

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