Three Candidates call for Billion Dollar Community Uplift Inititative
Would Fight Poverty and Unemployment
Decades of misguided state economic policy has created endemic poverty and unemployment in Massachusetts, according to a team of three candidates running for state office for the Green-Rainbow Party. Today they called for the state to launch a $1 billion Community Uplift Initiative (CUI) to tackle the problems in the most distressed communities of the state.
"Over 30 per cent of the children in Massachusetts are living in poverty or near-poverty" observed State Auditor candidate M K Merelice. "This is a crisis. Our children cannot wait for a long-promised economic miracle to arrive before they grow up - their lives are being shaped right now, this year, by the difficulties their families are facing. Incredibly, our state officials keep issuing rosy descriptions of how well their economic policies are working, usually with carefully selected examples from the bio-tech industry. But that's not the reality most people are experiencing. It's time we woke up and recognized the need to do something different for the millions of state residents who are living in economic desperation."
"In some of our communities, 20% of workers are either unemployed or unable to find more than part-time work" observed Danny Factor, candidate for Secretary of the Commonwealth. "About 11% of families have trouble even putting food on the table. But this isn't mentioned as a problem when establishment politicians meet with their well-heeled campaign donors. It's time for the people to demand an Economic Bill of Rights that will end the very real destruction of lives that is taking place right before our eyes. We can end unemployment. We can lift every one of our citizens out of poverty. We can build an economy that serves everyone."
"As a society, we should invest more of our wealth in our human capital and in the infrastructure of our communities where the returns for the common good are greatest" added Ian Jackson, candidate for State Treasurer. "Money invested merely to maximize return for wealthy investors often totally bypasses inner city neighborhoods and struggling older cities. To address the current misdirection of investments, public banking needs to emerge as a viable alternative to Wall Street financing."
In a joint statement issued today, the three candidates proposed the Community Uplift Initiative (CUI) that would invest $1 billion over a 7-year period in the revitalization of economically distressed communities in Massachusetts. An initial focus would be five cities where unemployment has consistently run over 10 percent: Lawrence, Springfield, New Bedford, Fall River, and Holyoke - as well as certain sections of Boston. Successful pilot programs in these communities would then be extended statewide.
"The planning for CUI projects would be done in the communities themselves, selecting from a menu of project models - the programs would be customized at the local level and not dictated by state agencies" added Factor. The envisioned components of the program include job vouchers for the long-term unemployed, launching small locally-owned start-up businesses, low income housing created by community development organizations, a weatherization jobs initiative to cut fuel costs for low income families, creating low income housing by reclaiming abandoned properties, encouraging urban agriculture, and community center projects to provide revitalized hubs for commerce. Some existing state programs that are failing merely because they are severely underfunded would see their resources increased as they are integrated into the CUI.
"The Community Uplift Program will give special attention to people with disabilities" according to Factor. "Every person must have access to the resources they need to live a life of dignity free from economic desperation. We must make a commitment to our neighbors who live with a physical or mental disability that we will remove all the barriers they face to achieving their full potential. No one will be left behind."
In response to the question of whether the Community Uplift Initiative is affordable, Jackson responded "Of course it's affordable. Governor Patrick launched a Billion for Biotech initiative that is showering a billion taxpayer dollars on an industry that doesn't really need the money. The Green-Rainbow Party is saying that it's time to show a similar commitment in addressing the crippling impact of poverty and unemployment upon our communities. When you invest in people, and help every person realize their full potential, you get a tremendous return on your investment. We can't afford not to make this investment."
For a complete copy of the CUI statement click here.
Links to GRP candidate websites can be found at http://www.green-rainbow.org/candidates