State needs to raise revenues, allow cities to tax

May 29, 2009
By

There is little question that we find ourselves in an historic moment of economic instability where the core functions of the public sector are threatened by cuts that will affect the very foundation of govern-ment’s role in society. As an organization dedicated to youth community development, we see on a daily basis that these budget cuts have tangible and dangerous effects on our neighborhoods, including increasing youth violence and high school drop-out rates.

Even prior to these proposed budget cuts, most of the young people with whom we work at the Hyde Square Task Force already attended struggling schools, faced a lack of resources and lived with the trauma of past violence and the threat of violence to come. The youth of our community are not passive observers of this eco-nomic and budgetary crisis. Rather, they have taken a lead role in advocating for new revenue sources; have met with many public officials to discuss their budgetary priorities; and most recently rallied and lobbied with over 300 students at the State House to support youth jobs, public education and anti-violence programs.

We are grateful to state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, who played a leadership role in the House of Representatives by filing a budget amend-ment for youth anti-violence programs. State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz has taken a lead role both in working for progressive ways to raise new revenues and in filing budget amendments to support youth anti-violence funds, youth jobs and youth programming. We support Sen. Chang-Díaz in the drive for bold, progressive revenue proposals to sustainably support the public life of our communities in ways that will benefit all of us.

As the budgetary process enters conference committee, we, alongside the youth of our community, call on the legislature and the governor to fund these youth priorities by raising fair new revenues, including passing local-options taxes on items such as hotel rooms, prepared meals and off-street parking. These municipal-level taxes will allow Boston to raise revenues that will stay here to fund the specific needs of our city. We also call on our state elected officials to save additional money by cutting down on unnecessary spending.

The youth of the Hyde Square Task Force and of our communities have vowed to fight for these priorities not only this year, but for as many years as necessary until we have created budgets and government systems that function for the good of all and, in particular, young people of our communities.

Claudio Martinez
Executive Director
Hyde Square Task Force
Jamaica Plain

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