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Demonstrators Across Texas Demand Fairness in Budget Cuts

March 22, 2011

HOUSTON, Texas - A series of rallies against sweeping Texas state budget cuts starts today in Houston. While Governor Rick Perry reversed himself last week on tapping the state's 9.4 billion dollar "rainy day" reserve - allowing a third of the fund to be used to ease this year's crunch - he insisted he will stand firm against applying "rainy day" dollars to next year's budget.That means the legislature is still proposing sweeping reductions in social spending to balance the books. Critics say this wouldn't be fair to poor and working class families.

Ginny Goldman of the Texas Organizing Project says we're already down to the bone: current plans rely too heavily on massive spending cuts that will harm working-class and needy Texans.

"You really just can't continue to cut once you've spent so little on children's needs, and education needs, and health needs, and seniors' needs - there's really not that much to cut."

The Organizing Project is sponsoring a "Week of Action," featuring multiple rallies today through Friday, in Houston, Dallas, and the Rio Grande Valley.

Goldman hopes residents from diverse communities will help persuade lawmakers to consider the budget shortfall as an opportunity to find long-term solutions, such as structural fixes to the tax code.

"And when there's money in the rainy day fund, when there's corporate loopholes, there's really no reason for us to sit back and just watch people who are already suffering, suffer even more."

The state is facing an estimated $23 billion shortfall for maintaining current services over the next two years. That means spending will be slashed by about a quarter, unless the legislature agrees to unlock new revenue sources.

Today's rally is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. at Houston's Austin High School.

A full list of rally cities and times is at www.organizetexas.org

Peter Malof, Public News Service - TX