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Protest demands: Stop attacks and cuts to working and poor Minnesotans - Tax the rich!

By staff |
April 16, 2011
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Giant banner reading "Tax the rich" at April 15 protest
Giant banner reading "Tax the rich" at April 15 protest. (Fight Back News!/Kim DeFranco)
Standing up to budget cuts in Minnesota, April 15
Standing up to budget cuts in Minnesota, April 15

St Paul, MN – Protesters gathered on the front steps of the Minnesota State Capitol, April 15 with a message for state legislators and Governor Dayton: “Tax the rich. No more attacks on poor and working people.” High winds whipped a giant banner spread out across the capitol steps.

Since the legislative session began, Republicans have launched cuts and attacks too numerous to list in full. These include drastic cuts to people in poverty and struggling with disabilities. They slash away at state workers, child protective services, local cities and towns, education and union rights.

According to Deb Konechne, of the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout, one of the protest orgainzers, “The Republicans in our state are taking their message of hate and loathing of working and poor people to new lows. They are trying to gut the last few benefits that exist for those of us who do not belong to the wealthy class. They are forcing poor people, workers, elders, and people with illness or disability to pay for the entire deficit.”

The Republican budget proposals are unjust. As for tax fairness, according to the tax incidence study from the state Department of Revenue, those making less than $11,201 per year pay 22.1% of their income in taxes, while the top earners in pay an effective tax rate of just 8.8%. Corporations have been scamming Minnesota for years with their loopholes and exemptions.

Phyllis Walker, president of AFSCME Local 3800, representing the clerical workers at the University of Minnesota, told the crowd, “Public sector workers are under attack. We’ve been told our salaries are too high, our contributions to our health insurance are too low and that our pensions are bankrupting state government. We’ve been told that unions are the problem and that greedy public workers are sucking up resources and causing huge financial problems. We even been told we should relinquish our right to collective bargaining.”

Walker continued, “But workers across the country are not buying it. And in Madison, Wisconsin workers have taken to the streets and they have shown us that fighting back can and will transform the terms of the debate.”

The Welfare Rights Committee and the MN Coalition for a People’s Bailout are urging support for a call-in campaign to Governor Dayton, demanding that he veto the attack-bills that are about to cross his desk. “It is essential that our Governor keep to his promises. In this time of economic crisis, it is ludicrous to go along with these cuts and attacks. We want to make sure Dayton doesn’t forget about the people behind the budget numbers,” said Kim DeFranco, of the Welfare Rights Committee.