Voces de la Frontera, community and faith leaders, and public educators engaged in a not very civil act of disobedience in the Joint Finance Committee hearing at the State Capitol in Madison yesterday. Their intent is to halt passage of the state budget and demand restoration of the cuts to eduction and in-state tuition for immigrant youth. The group is returning to Madison today to escalate opposition to the education vote. They will meet at the JFC hearing at the State Capitol (Room 412) at 12:45 pm. PLEASE SHARE WIDELY.
Joined by hundreds of supporters, a coalition of parents, students, educators, teaching assistants and members of the interfaith community were dragged from a public Joint Finance Committee hearing while reading statements calling for economic and educational justice.
Kicking off the action were four prominent community leaders: Jesus Salas, former UW Regent; Larry Miller, Director on the Milwaukee Public School Board; Al Levie, Racine high school teacher and REA union member; and Christine Neumann-Ortíz, Voces de la Frontera executive director.
The disruption stopped the committee for an extended period of time as police carried off speaker after speaker, who refused to let injustice and austerity become law without resistance.
For three months the JFC has railroaded their vision of a deeply unequal Wisconsin through the budget process.
They have disregarded widespread opposition to their proposed cuts to education, environment, workers, healthcare and other vital public services. Today the Republicans on the committee delayed the hearing for 5 hours, afraid to face the public backlash.
Inspired by the direct action taken by the coalition, an interfaith community rally on the Capitol steps spontaneously marched inside to further disrupt the JFC hearing.
Led by Minister Greg Lewis of St Gabriel's Church of God and Christ, Rev Willie Brisco of MICAH, and Rabbi Renee Bauer of the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice, this crowd of 200 packed the hallway, sang, and held a prayer service outside the locked committee room. The spontaneous decision to take up direct action signals Wisconsinites desire to escalate the struggle.
The call has been raised for Wisconsinities to take direct action and civil disobedience to stop the vote on Walker's budget.
It is imperative for us to return to the Capitol to continue to take action against the passage of this destructive budget. The action today is a call to you to join us at the Joint Finance Committee meeting tomorrow and every day that it reconvenes. ~press statement, Voces de la Frontera
STATEMENT READ by EACH PARTICIPANT in the ACTION
Senator Darling and Senator Vos:
You are complicit in moving Governor Walker's anti-public education budget forward.
We are here today to vehemently oppose this education budget and the process by which you have rammed this budget forward. Holding four public hearings in remote areas during work and school hours is not democracy.
Slashing funds for public education and removing the ability for undocumented students to pay instate tuition rates is mean spirited and immoral.
We demand that public education dollars be restored and that all students living in our state pay in-state tuition rates.
You are taking from the poor to give to the rich. Your actions are unconscionable. Shame on you. You take food out of the mouths of children by cutting reduced breakfast programs while at the same time transferring public money from public schools through an expanded voucher program for the education of wealthy families.
This budget is a budget of the have nots and the have mores.
You are destroying the American Dream for working class and immigrant children in our state.
You justify your actions claiming there is not enough money. You justify your actions claiming immigrant children are taking limited resources from US citizen children.
These claims are unfounded. You refuse to implement a fair taxation for large corporations and the wealthy that would address the budget gap—that is not even that big. You are willing to deny opportunity to immigrant youth who are struggling to study hard to achieve college admission and pay their own way.
You are violating the norms of a civilized society when you invest more in incarceration than in public education.
You promised job creation, yet your budget forces school districts to give pink slips to teachers, school nurses, educational assistants, teaching assistants, social workers, maintenance workers, food workers, among many others.
You promise job creation yet you undermine our ability to produce an educated, diverse, and talented workforce.
To the people of Wisconsin, join us—it is our duty as citizens to resist the passage and implementation of this unjust budget.
Unjust government shall not stand.