‘Hey politicians, here's the fix! Tax the rich!’

Protest at first day of Minnesota legislature

By Kim DeFranco |
January 11, 2011
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Angella Khan of Welfare Rights Committee speaking at rally.
Angella Khan of Welfare Rights Committee speaking at rally. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

St. Paul, MN - As the 2011 Minnesota state legislative session came to order on Jan. 4, the Welfare Rights Committee and the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout chanted on the front steps of the capitol, “Hey politicians, here's the fix! Tax the rich!” This year, the right-wing Republicans have control of the Minnesota State House and Senate. They have vowed not to raise taxes on the wealthy and will make cuts to balance the budget.

Angella Khan of Welfare Rights Committee read the opening statement, “Getting sworn in right now are dozens of mean spirited people…over the years we have seen some of the poor-bashing, racist bills they have tried to push into law. We have seen them try to make cuts that absolutely target poor families and the people with disabilities in particular. In some cases they succeeded, in part because both parties used poor families as bargaining chips in their dirty back room negotiations. In most cases, they failed, because of our fighting back and exposing their nasty deeds.”

Students from the Southside Family School's Student Association for the Advancement of Children as People (SAACP) spoke as a team to raised their voices and put the politicians on notice. Said one student, “We want this to be a year of working for justice.” Said another, “As children, we believe we should have a say in what happens in our world. It's about time the politicians think about poor, homeless and the children who deserve a brighter future. The time for change is now!”

Other students proclaimed, “Let this be the year to put a moratorium on foreclosures, extend unemployment, have higher MFIP [Minnesota’s public assistance program for families] payments, have everyone get healthcare and to have good and safe childcare. The new governor wants to tax the rich and we support him. Let this be this the year: put working and poor families first!”

“We have a solution to budget. The time has come to tax the rich! We need to go where the money is,” shouted Mick Kelly of the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout, “They need to be taxed and we need to have real job creation. Republicans say they are job creators but they are job destroyers. We need jobs and income now! We say 'foreclose on the wealthy, not people’s homes.’ We will fight for moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. We need to keep repeating and let it be known we will not stand for any cuts. Not one dime, not one cent, of cuts to poor and working people.”

Bernie Hesse, of the United Food and Commercial Workers 1189, said, “We are tired of hearing about this shared sacrifice. [They] use this as a tool on people who have less and less. We need to say ‘share the abundance.’ There is plenty to go around. We need to send the strong message to tax the rich. The trickle down isn't working.

Jess Sundin, of the Minnesota Committee to Stop FBI Repression, whose home was raided by the FBI in September 2010, targeted for being a solidarity activist with the people of Palestine and Columbia, stated that she stands with the people of Minnesota to fight for economic justice. “Instead of the government targeting activists, they should be making real homes with food, health care, education and everything that our loved ones need. The fact is that the government goes and drop bombs around the world while they make us and our neighbors go homeless and starve in their backyard. The terrorists are controlling the halls of government. We are not afraid! That is why I am here today. I stand with you to demand change. Let's do it, let's tax the rich.”

Misty Rowan, of the Anti-War Committee, said, “The war that is crumbling our economy, that is crippling my generation and destroying the planet must be stopped. But instead, republicans are happily singing the battle hymn - telling us tax breaks for their friends and cuts to social programs are the only way to balance this budget. We know this is ludicrous.”

After the speeches, the people exploded into the capitol rotunda and marched up the marble stairs and through the halls. They protested and chanted outside the House of Represents chambers and continued to the Senate chambers, with a final stop at the new governor's office. As the protest left the capitol, Deb Konechne thanked everyone for coming, “This fight isn’t over! We will come back and fight for what is ours. We will continue to say no cuts to poor and working people in the state of Minnesota.”