Highlights of the People’s Budget for Massachusetts
One of the deepest expressions of our government’s policies is the federal budget, the allocation of our tax dollars to various programs, voted each year by Congress. In the past few years more than half of the 1.15 trillion dollar Congressional discretionary budgets (excludes trust funds for Medicare and Security) have been directed toward pentagon spending, including nuclear weapons and foreign wars This has been done by cutting all those programs that provide the services and infrastructure our people need – in housing, education, transportation, healthcare, environmental protection and other critical areas. In addition corporations have been given hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks.
The Trump/Republican budget proposals intensity this redistribution of the nation’s public wealth, further cutting major domestic programs such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health, in order to increase military spending by an outrageous $54 billion. The chief beneficiaries of this budget shift are the military contractors with their monopoly, cost plus, no audit contracts.
Fighting back requires putting forward a different budget, that invests in people. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has indeed developed such an alternative budget, the People’s Budget; A Roadmap for Resistance; This closes corporate tax loopholes, cuts Pentagon accounts, and shifts hundreds of billions of dollars into job-creating infrastructure repair and renewal, human services programs in education, housing, veterans affairs and other critical areas. Below are some of the benefits of the People’s Budget that would accrue to Massachusetts residents:
Strengthen Basic Health and Living Standards:
Extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) –The PB extends funding for the entire CHIP program until 2019. It also protects state child health programs by fully retaining the maintenance of effort requirement and eliminating any State’s ability to implement enrollment caps. This secures funding for more than 10 million children and pregnant women across the nation into the future, and will protect some hundreds of thousands of children and pregnant women in Massachusetts.
Restore SNAP – The PB restores cuts made to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and permanently adopts enhanced levels set under Obama. Providing families with basic food security is one of the most effective antipoverty tools and helps stimulate our economy.
Increase Child Nutrition Funding – The PB rejects block grants to school mean provides, and provides an additional $10.8 billion for child nutrition programs including summer meals. This program allows for expansion of preschool nutrition programs and investments in school kitchens. Massachusetts would receive of the order of $300 million.
Social Security - Caregivers who had to look after family members, often suffer a significant decrease in social security contributions and therefore payments. The CPC Budget endorses computation of social security benefits giving an annual caregiver credit for each year of caregiving, to achieve more equitable social security benefits.
Invest in Infrastructure to Build our Economy:
Clean water - The PB commits $350 billion to replace aging drinking water pipes in vulnerable community. Of the order of $10-$12 billion would come to Massachusetts for its older former industrial cities.
Energy Efficiency - To better support our renewable power resources and increase energy efficiency, the CPC budget invests $500 billion over ten years to upgrade energy grids. Of the order of $15 -$20 billion would come to Massachusetts.
Universal pre-K - The PB provides universal access to quality pre-K programs, by investing $five hundred billion dollars into these programs over the next five years. The Budget furthermore addresses the low wages child care workers currently receive by creating a payment structure to ensure these workers a living wage.
Rebuilding deteriorating public schools - Effective learning is greatly added by decent learning environment. The PB invests $75 billion nationally for repairing and modernizing our schools. About $2.2 billion would be available to Massachusetts pubic schools.
Access to Housing:
Rental Vouchers - The PB restores and expands the funding of rental vouchers for low income households, and funds 400,000 new Housing Choice vouchers over the next ten years. About 20,000 (5%)? would become available to Mass low income renters and veterans.
Ending Homelessness - The People’s Budget adopts Rep Maxine Waters Ending Homelessness Act and provides $12.8 billion for several programs to end homelessness. This would permit the creation of the order of 425,00 new housing units, with about 12,500 to be built or secured in Massachusetts.
Peace and True National Security:
End Emergency War Funding -The People’s Budget ends the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) appropriations, used for funding the continuing “off-budget” US Middle East and other overseas interventions, over and above the Defense appropriations bills. This will save an estimated $852 billon over the next ten years.
The PB calls for decommissioning significant components of our Cold War nuclear weapons infrastructure, as outlined in Senator Markey’s Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act. Reducing our nuclear stockpiles will decrease the growing risk of an inadvertent or intentional nuclear weapons exchange.
The Peoples; Budget would increase federal revenue each year by more than a $trillion dollars by: Eliminating Tax Breaks for Offshoring Profits and jobs; Stopping Companies from Renouncing US Citizenship; Closing Corporate Tax loopholes for Executive bonuses; and Ending Tax breaks for Private Jets and Yachts; and numerous other reforms.
Massachusetts Peace Action and Mass Campaign for a People’s Budget,
11 Garden Street, Cambridge Ma 02139 <www.masspeaceaction.org>