The state budget adopted in June eliminated more than 1100 full time state jobs, and that doesn’t even count jobs being shed by local and county governments, hospital layoffs due to cuts in funds for “uncompensated care,” or the positions the will end at service agencies whose state contracts were cut or ended when the new fiscal year began on July 1. When you add in the elimination of services like testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, the cuts in welfare payments to poor families, and cuts in other programs that poor and disabled people rely upon, the budget is an economic and social disaster.
If budgets are in fact “moral documents,” as the Rev. Gail Kinney sugge sted at today’s No Jobs Fair in Concord, then the budget is a moral failure as well.
“Imagine what would have happened if candidates for office had said they were going to eliminate jobs and services,” Rev. Kinney said. “Would we have those people in leadership positions now?” The lunchtime crowd of about 80 people shouted “no.”
Mark MacKenzie, president of the NH AFL-CIO, said it’s time to “draw a line in the sand” against further job and benefit cuts, like the Verizon workers are doing through their recently called strike. Corporate America is sitting on piles of money with historically low tax rates, he said, and the jobs aren’t any more likely to trickle down now than they were during the Regan years, he said.
“The people of New Hampshire elected their representatives last November with the mandate to strengthen our economy,” MacKenzie said. Instead, he said, they’ve done the bidding of corporate leaders who are willing to sacrifice other people’s middle class jobs to maintain their own privilege.
Speaker of the House William O’Brien came in for the most criticism f rom the speakers, who also included Diana Lacey of the State Employees Association and Doug Linder of the Young Democrats.
“O’Brien resorted to political games, bullying tactics and attacks on the workers of this state,” MacKenzie charged, “leaving behind a shoddy record of job creation that has done nothing to address the real needs of Granite Staters. New Hampshire businesses, workers, and families cannot afford to see the same thing happen again.”
“With ten hospitals laying off hundreds of workers, over thousands of jobs already lost from the state thanks to Speaker O’Brien’s irresponsible budget cuts, and the bleeding of construction jobs from our state at a rate higher than any other state in the Northeast, the foc us of the State House should be squarely on giving our residents what they need to recover from the recession. Since Speaker O’Brien isn’t willing to help out our neediest, we’ve had to step up to the plate,” MacKenzie explained.
After the short rally at State House Plaza, dozens of activists troope d to O’Brien’s office on the State House’s third floor to deliver petitions calling on state legislators to focus on job creation instead of budget cuts in the upcoming special sessions of the New Hampshire Legislature.
Rev. Kinney reminded those at the rally that Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple, and Moses challenged Pharaoh over working conditions. “Be the voice of truth,” she said.
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