Vermont Workers’ Center launches Put People First! The People’s Budget Campaign

Vermont Workers’ Center launches Put People First! The People’s Budget Campaign

Barre, VT -- On Saturday, March 19, at a Town Meeting on the Economy with US Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Workers’ Center officially launched a new campaign called “Put People First! The People’s Budget Campaign. The campaign takes aim at the failed policy of responding to the state’s revenue crisis by cutting necessary public services instead of restoring revenues — in effect balancing the state budget on the backs of the most disadvantaged Vermonters and thus denying their human rights.

“It is time for us to have a totally new approach. Our government must put human rights and the fundamental needs of Vermonters and our communities as the top priority, and then raise the necessary revenue in an equitable way to meet these needs,” says Peg Franzen, President of the Vermont Workers’ Center.

To accomplish this shift in priorities, the Vermont Workers' Center is inviting Vermonters and Vermont organizations to join them in the same kind of grassroots organizing effort that has been so successful in the struggle for universal healthcare. On Saturday, VWC leader Leslie Matthews introduced a new grassroots petition and invited those in attendance to help get signatures. The petition calls for a budget that “puts people first” by meeting people’s needs - such as education, healthcare, housing, food, good jobs - through the provision of vital public goods; by making our tax structure more fair and equitable; and by making our budget process transparent and accountable with ample opportunities for public participation. The petitions will be delivered to the legislature at a rally on tax day, April 15, 2011.

“Our public goods like education, healthcare and a healthy environment, our social safety net and a dignified standard of living and retirement – are under attack, across the country and here in Vermont too. As a state employee I’m acutely aware of this, because public employees like me are being made the scapegoats for a revenue crisis that was brought on by banks and corporations and tax cuts for the wealthy - not by us,” said Leslie Matthews, speaking on the panel chaired by Sen. Sanders at the Barre Labor Hall.

On December 10, 2010, the Workers’ Center released a preliminary People’s Budget Report, following a series of in-depth interviews with Vermont social service agencies. The research found that the state has failed its human rights obligation to meet Vermonters’ fundamental needs and caused considerable human suffering, particularly among already disadvantaged and vulnerable Vermonters.

In 2008, the Vermont Workers’ Center launched the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign to change what is politically possible in healthcare reform by uniting Vermonters across the state who have been struggling to get the healthcare they need and who believe healthcare should be treated as a public good.

People’s Budget Report: That report and a summary can be downloaded at
Petition: Put People First! The People’s Budget Campaign petition is online at
Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign: The webpage for this campaign can be accessed at