The Madison Response
March 7, 2011 12:40 PM
As we learn more about Governor Walker's biennial budget proposal, it just gets worse. Our response as a community needs to be to pull together and make things better.
One way for us to respond is by upping the ante on generosity in the form of resources or volunteerism. I'm a little short on time these days, so I wrote a personal check to one of my favorite local community nonprofits, the Goodman Atwood Community Center. The check was for $302 because that's the amount that Governor Walker's budget would cut the Earned Income Tax Credit for a single mother of two kids earning minimum wage or about $15,000 a year. That's a 43% cut in her credit. If that's a little too high for you, here's another good number: $32. That's the amount of the Governor's proposed reduction in the Homestead Property Tax Credit for a family earning $20,000 a year. And, of course, multiples of 14 would be appropriate.
This is consistent with the response of other city employees. We had feared that the pending forced increases in contributions toward health insurance and pensions would drive our employees to reduce their scheduled charitable deductions. But it hasn't happened. Madisonians aren't retreating; they're stepping up.
Cuts in state programs that fund county community aids, city transit aids, libraries and more are going to make it even harder for people with low incomes. Overall cuts to city government itself appear to be in the range of $11 million. The City of Madison is responding on an official level, working to fight back on these proposals as the budget works its way through the legislature. And the process to work through the 2012 city budget will be the most inclusive ever.
But on a personal level I've seen a great coming together of our community. You see it in the spirit of people as they protest at the Capitol. It is not a depressing scene, but a hopeful one. It's not bitter, but determined. It's about people rolling up their sleeves and saying, well now, how are we going to deal with this?
I'm convinced that we're going to deal with it in the Madison way. With intelligence and creativity, generosity and compassion. We fight back by being who we are.