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Letter: Proper Focus for Vt. Budget

To the Editor:

Gov. Peter Shumlin’s budget proposal address stated that we are in fiscally better shape than most of the other states, and warned of “more tough choices and restraint, as we confront continued uncertainty about the fiscal crisis in Washington.” In other words, because we don’t know how to change our budget process, we need to impose austerity.

While many things about Vermont may be better than other states, we are identical in how we continue to create a budget using archaic methods. The Vermont Workers’ Center has been urging to make budgeting participatory by allowing continuous community input to set the goals for what people need and to create a budget based on those needs. The process should also be transparent. How many people understand the current process or the final outcome? Ultimately, The Vermont Workers’ Center is concerned that Vermonters will continue to be forced to scavenge for whatever is left after austerity has been applied to the public sectors. The Vermont budget should serve the needs of Vermonters, not those of Washington, D.C. or the profit-driven private sector.

Instead of cost-shifting, we want the burdens to be shared equitably so that Vermonters’ fundamental needs are met. What I am asking is that our legislative body step outside its comfort zone and pay attention to the Workers’ Center’s “People’s Budget,” which addresses the human rights of the residents of Vermont. In other words, put people first.

Sharon Racusin