Hundreds Flock to Capitol To Call For Balanced Approach

St. Paul, Minn., June 30, 2011 – A potential government shutdown is a symptom of a larger problem – the absence of a balanced approach that includes fairly raised revenue. That’s the message from hundreds of Minnesotans who gathered on the steps of the state Capitol today to call on the Legislature to protect public investments crucial to the state’s ability to recover from the recession.

On the day before a potential state government shutdown, Invest in Minnesota Coalition members joined together to urge lawmakers to take a balanced approach to meeting the state’s needs that includes a mix of revenues and spending cuts.

“We know just how much is at stake,” said Brian Rusche of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition. “Balancing the state budget primarily through cuts would lead to dire consequences for thousands of Minnesotans. People would lose their jobs and critical services. Many would lose their ability to make ends meet, jeopardizing everything from housing stability to family well-being.”

Attendees heard from people who would be severely harmed by an all-cuts approach to the budget.

“I never want to make the choice between health care and housing,” said Cherise Payton of Duluth, who was formerly homeless. “Affordable health care coverage keeps me above water. Because of secure health care, I am stable.”

Josh Keller, an employment specialist at Project for Pride in Living, said reductions in job training programs would inflict unimaginable damage to Minnesota’s economic recovery.

“We see first-hand how much it pays to invest in people experiencing tough times and how much state-funded services do to build the types of communities we all want to live in, “ he said. “And we can solve the revenue shortfall by raising revenues in a way that asks all of us to pay our fair share.”

Following the remarks, attendees delivered signs with personal stories about the impact of the legislature’s budget proposal to legislative leaders’ offices. They stressed that while a shutdown would have an immediate and negative short-term impact, an all-cuts budget solution would harm state residents for years to come.

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The Invest in Minnesota Coalition unites Minnesota’s faith, labor and nonprofit organizations around the following core principles: (1) Revenue-raising must be a significant part of the solution to resolving the state’s budget deficit and (2) the overall package of revenue-raising must make the tax system fairer.

Endorsing organizations include:
A Minnesota Without Poverty, Affirmative Options Coalition, AFSCME Council 5, AFSCME Council 5 Retirees Political Club, AFSCME Council 65, AFSCME Council 868, Alliance of Low-Wealth Minnesotans, ARC of Minnesota, Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, Bluff Country Family Resources, Child Care Works, Children’s Defense Fund – Minnesota, Churches United in Ministry, Clare Housing, Community Action Duluth, Elim Transitional Housing, Inc., Emerge Community Development, Growth & Justice, HOME Line, Hunger Solutions, Integrated Community Solutions, Inc., Jewish Community Action, JOBS NOW Coalition, Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, Just Faith of North Branch, Kids at Risk Action, League of Women Voters Minnesota, Legal Services Advocacy Project, Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers, Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing (MICAH), Mid Minnesota Women’s Center, Minnesota Association of Professional Employers (MAPE), Minnesota AFL-CIO, Minnesota State AFL-CIO Retiree Council, Minnesota AIDS Project, Minnesota Budget Project, Minnesota Catholic Conference, Minnesota Citizens for Tax Justice, Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, Minnesota Community Action Partnership, Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Minnesota Government Engineering Council, Minnesota Housing Partnership, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), Minnesota Recovery Connection, Minnesota Social Service Association (MSSA), Minnesota Youth Intervention Programs Association, Onesie Project, Packard Group, Phyllis Wheatley Community Center Progressive Action Alliance of Washington County, Project for Pride in Living (PPL), RESOURCE, St. Mary's Health Clinics, St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, SEIU, Sierra Club North Star Chapter, TakeAction Minnesota, Teamsters Joint Council 32, Transit for Livable Communities, TSE, Inc., Unite Here Local 21, Wealth for the Common Good, YWCA of Minneapolis.

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