Tomorrow I will be part of a group of clergy and other faithful activists carrying concerns about the devastating impacts of the proposed state budget into the office of the Speaker of the House, Rep. William O’Brien.
We plan to arrive mid-afternoon; it is our intent to conduct our prayerful vigil all night and through the day Thursday until the final vote on the budget. I hope to provide updates on this blog during the vigil, so keep tuned.
The House Finance Committee’s proposal, which comes to the floor for consideration Wednesday and Thursday, includes deep cuts in human services, an assault on the rights of public sector workers, and a weakening of the frail safety net that our state’s most vulnerable people rely upon. You can read some of the details in a new report from the NH Fiscal Policy Institute.
Here is the text of the letter we delivered today to the Speaker:
Dear Speaker O’Brien,
We are a small group of New Hampshire clergy and others from several communities and faith traditions. In recent weeks we have closely followed discussions and debates over the state budget. As people who believe in loving our neighbors, and as people who believe that we are unambiguously responsible to advocate for and serve those who are most vulnerable among us, we are deeply troubled by the dramatic cuts in funds for essential services contained in the budget proposal which will be before the House on Wednesday and Thursday. In addition, we are in profound distress over proposals to lessen the responsibilities of communities to care for those most in need and to undermine the collective rights of those who serve our communities as teachers, firefighters, public safety officers, and as other public servants.
It is our intent to conduct a prayerful vigil at your offices during the budget deliberations Wednesday and staying through the night until the budget vote is completed. During this time we plan to share silence, readings and prayers consecrated to different populations impacted by the proposed budget.
We pray our sisters and brothers in the Legislature will be moved by our prayerful witness.
Rev. Dr. Mary Westfall, Durham
Rev. Dr. Frank Irvine, Concord
Rev. William Exner, Goffstown
Gregory Heath, Canterbury
Mark Barker, Boscawen
Arnie Alpert, Canterbury
L. R. Berger, Contoocook
Barbara French, Henniker