Call to Action: Danville Residents Call on the General Assembly and the Governor to Restore Budget Cuts and Bring Balance Back to Virginia
Danville, VA– Virginia Organizing held a public “budget balance” demonstration and a budget call to action today at the Greater Living Word Ministries Church. Using a weight balance, the group attempted to balance state budget cuts to social services (represented by school supplies and medicine bottles) against tax cuts for the wealthy (represented by toy cars, toy yachts and gold bricks.) “We can’t have it all and may have to choose between raising modest revenue and making vital cuts to services like education. This is a no-brainer since our state needs teachers more than it does luxury yachts,” said Pastor Loretta Murray of Greater Living Word Ministries Church.
“We are out of balance due to such drastic state budget cuts. It is like getting a bad haircut and then trying to fix it with more and more cuts. It doesn’t fix the problem and eventually you just end up bald,” said Danville Virginia Organizing leader Sheryl Hughes. “The cuts are even worse when the poor and middle class already pay a higher percentage of their income in state and local taxes than the wealthiest Virginians. I have done tax preparation for eight years and have seen this first hand. Every April when tax time comes around, I am reminded that our tax system is broken and needs to be fixed. That is why we are here today.”
“I have a 2-year-old grandson, and I’m worried about what kind of public education he’s going to have if these cuts keep up like this. The folks who are making these decisions up in Richmond just don’t understand what it’s like to be in our position. We need to restore the cuts and bring in new revenue to the state budget so my grandson can have a quality education,” said Danville Virginia Organizing leader Sarah Barley.
Along with the balance demonstration, the group handed out information on the state budget and generated calls to Delegate Marshall and State Senator Hurt.Tuesday’s event is part of Balance Virginia, a public education campaign of Virginia Organizing on budget issues. Balance Virginia has been holding local workshops on budget and revenue issues.
“We are tired of dealing with drastic local cuts to education and then reading about supposed surpluses. The real long-term solution to our budget crisis lies in a balanced approach that includes revenue and fixes our broken, old, tax system. A cuts-only approach is reckless,” said Janice “Jay” Johnson, Chairperson of Virginia Organizing.
Virginia Organizing has two goals for the upcoming General Assembly session. The first is that future budget decisions made by the state government balance existing budget cuts with new revenue. The second goal is to modernize the state’s “old and rusty” tax structure so that everyone pays their fair share. Residents cited a recent report on the tax structures of all 50 states found that low and middle income families in Virginia pay a higher share of their income in state and local taxes than do the richest families. “We are all making sacrifices in this financial climate and we should not be paying a higher percentage of our income to taxes than the wealthiest Americans. Virginia has a state income tax structure that is almost a flat tax. Our tax structure is regressive and simply unfair.”