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Minnesota Forecasts Another Budget Crisis

Picket demands “Tax the rich”
By staff |
December 2, 2009
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Protesters holding signs that say "Tax the Rich"
Picket at from MN Coalition for a People's Bailout and Welfare Rights Committee demand "tax the rich." (Fight Back! News/Staff)

St. Paul, MN – Members of the Welfare Rights Committee and the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout gathered in the state capitol building, Dec. 2, outside the room where Minnesota Management and Budget department heads presented the ‘November Forecast,’ projecting a $1.2 billion deficit.

In past budget shortfalls, politicians balanced the budget by slashing programs that serve poor and working people.

“If the state needs money, go to where the money is. Tax the wealthy. Don’t cut more from programs that serve working people, the poor, unemployed, disabled and elderly,” said Deb Konechne of the Minnesota Coalition for People’s Bailout.

Governor Pawlenty, who has constantly opposed the agenda of the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout and the Welfare Rights Committee, is on the record as opposing tax increases for wealthy Minnesotans.

A joint statement from the organizations noted: “People across this state are facing dire circumstances. Thousands more have lost homes due to foreclosures, thousands are still losing jobs, facing layoffs and running out of unemployment. Many who thought they would never have to go back on welfare are now bumping into the five-year lifetime limit. More and more of us are going to food shelves to keep food on the table, or finding ourselves homeless and in the streets.”

The hearing room where the forecast was presented has glass doors. Since most Minnesota politicians won’t allow signs in hearing rooms, the protesters held signs up to the glass from the outside. Near the end of the presentation, picketers entered the hearing room through three separate doors, holding “Tax the rich” signs. Capitol security guards scrambled to try to intercept the protesters, who when pursued, slowly walked to exit doors before their signs could be taken away. Two protesters offered comments to state Economist Tom Stinson about how the state budget should be balanced.

Angel Buechner of the Welfare Rights Committee, said, “We basically told them to quit balancing the budget on the backs of poor and working people.”

The Welfare Rights Committee and the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout will present bills in 2010 that call for unemployment extensions, no layoffs, a moratorium on welfare limits, a halt to eviction of tenants in foreclosed properties and a moratorium on home foreclosures.