Letter of support for a budget that protects the health and safety of our community
The Miami Herald, Opinion
As the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners prepare for public budget hearings, which begin September 13th , it appears that the community is left with the short end of the shrinking stick comprised of our public services.
While some Commissioners can be praised for fighting for public structures by supporting sustainable revenue practices, the Commission has been too quick in years past to balance the budget on the backs those least able to afford it: low income communities, front line workers, the disabled and the indigent.
If cuts are to be made, they should be made from the top first, not from the bottom. The Mayor’s proposed budget asks of us what cannot be asked. We cannot ask that we take domestic violence services, shelters, food banks and countless other services away from members of our community who depend on them. We cannot ask that a frontline worker in sectors like transit struggling to support her family or a nurse whose work affects so many lives risk losing their jobs.
The cuts that the Commissioners are considering actually add cost: The proposed budget notes that by cutting County programs and services we can reasonably expect “higher crime rates, higher jail populations, and all the costs that accompany those ills.” In fact, if we cut the infrastructure for services now, we will have to invest more in the future to build them back.
As members of a broad network of community organizations, labor organizations, civic leaders and residents, we stand in opposition to county budget cuts that threaten over 1,200 jobs and 25% of funding for social services provided by community-based organizations—on top of the 30% cut made in last year’s budget.
We recognize that an injury to one is an injury to all. Our members’ lives cut across multiple budget line items. Cutting jobs while also cutting food banks affects seniors as well as children. We know from our members and supporters that we have cut past the meat and now we are cutting bone.
Though we represent distinct organizations, we declare mutual support. We stand united for solutions. Progressive measures can be taken to prevent cuts that threaten the health and safety of our community. On September 23, we ask that the County Commission and the Mayor adopt the rollback millage rate—which avoids tax increases that target communities that have seen the largest drops in property values. We also know that this alone is not enough, and we ask the county commission put pressure on Congress to pass the Local Jobs for America Act (HR 4812, S.3500) supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties and the National League of Cities. This would provide federal funds to economically stressed counties to save and create local jobs and to restore community based programs.
Like our lives that cut across multiple budget items, these two steps must be taken together. They will not only prevent the worst of the cuts, but will help us build a just, sustainable alternative through investment in our communities.
County Commission and Mayor, if you cut one of us you cut all of us.
Signatories as of Friday September 10th:
Catherine Penrod, ED, Switchboard of Miami;
Andy Madtes, President, South Florida AFL-CIO;
Helene J. Good, ED, CCDH, Inc. (formerly the Community Committee for Developmental Handicaps);
Martha Baker, R.N.; President SEIU Local 1991;
Antonio Eiroa, President, AFSCME Local 1542;
Kit Rafferty, South Florida Jobs with Justice;
Daniella Levine, CEO, Human Services Coalition;
Bejamin J. Burton, ED, Miami Coalition For the Homeless, Inc. ;
South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice;
Susan Rubio Rivera, ED, M.U.J.E.R.;
Talib Nashid, President TWU Local 291;
Debra Knox, ED, Hearing and Speech Center
Vivienne Dixon-Shim, President, AFSCME Local 1363;
Greg Blackman, President, Government Supervisors Association of Florida/ OPEIU, Local 100;
Gihan Perrera, ED, Miami Workers Center;
Marie Mobley, President AFSCME Local 322;
Cornell Crews, Program Manager, Partners For Self Employment;
Jerry Santeiro, Guardianship Program;
Michelle Johnson, Concerned African Women;
And the Penny Wise Campaign to Protect our Community from the Budget Cuts.