I went to the rally in Concord today. Something like 139 organizations participated, from police and firefighters to people pushing disabled people in wheelchairs and numerous religious groups. What I found most moving were the number of handmade signs on a huge diversity of topics. What does democracy look like? THIS is what democracy looks like.
What makes me angriest is the budget cuts for the people who most need help. This is what the New Hampshire Council of Churches had to say:
They denounced the House budget that downshifts burdens onto the very people most affected by hard times, the mentally ill, physically or developmentally disabled, impoverished elderly and children, and the lowest income households.
Unacceptable, immoral, House cuts reinstate a waiting list for developmentally disabled adults needing support, eliminate state childcare subsidies so poorest parents can work, support their families while children receive safe, quality care.
All non-profit and faith-based organizations in NH already experience severe strain by this recession and the increased need it brings. The resources and the ability of individuals, their families and faith- and community-based organizations are stretched to the limit already. The Senate’s responsibility to craft a new budget that does the least harm to our oldest, youngest, poorest, disabled can get us through these very difficult fiscal times for state government.
But this budget creates undue hardship and hopelessness for so many in our communities and churches, including the chronically mentally ill and the developmentally disabled who are threatened by new waiting lists for services. Also threatened are parents who work but need subsidies to help them find quality care for their children.
Perhaps most astonishing is that this budget turns away entire populations and tells them there are no scraps left from our table of bounty to sustain them in troubled times. Tragically, veterans since 9/11 are the fastest growing population in the homeless shelters; our youngest returning veterans have the highest unemployment numbers by far in our already stressed economy. Enlisted men and women, some of whom return from war changed in body and spirit and in need of medical, psychological, and social support, will find our communities are not equipped to help them and their families heal.