11:50: I’m with a group from the Children’s Alliance marching toward the Capitol steps. Signs seen so far: Kids Not Cuts, Kids Come 1st, and Children Are Our Future. Biggest difference from TEA Party rally so far (aside from substantive issues)? Lots of kids and young adults.
11:59: Descending on the Capitol steps. It’s apparent that this rally is already siginifcantly larger than the TEA Party rally.
12:06: Attendees move into plaza as Capitol steps overflow. Signs for K-12 schools, higher ed, funding WA Basic Health, no more cuts to GAU, and preserving the environment. Cuts of the nature being considered would cripple or eliminate state funding for many of these programs.
12:17: MC takes the stage. ‘We can’t let the recession determine Washington’s values…We must close tax loopholes and raise the revenue we need to protect our future’.
12:22: Senator Ed Murray. Promises to do the tough work closing tax loopholes and raising revenue now, and reiterates the legislature needs the support of the people to support new revenue in November.
12:30: Rick Bender from the WSLC. Begins the chant ‘No more cuts’. We need to protect the elderly in nursing homes and decide what type of future we want for the elderly and children in out state. We need responsible decision-makers and to look beyond partisan politics to decide our state future. Reiterates need to close tax loopholes and raise revenue responsibly.
12:36: Representatives from community groups and labor unions who deal with the first-hand effects of budget cuts everyday take the stage. The takeaway message from the personal stories: People will be kicked off health care rolls, more jobs will be lost, cuts will be made to programs meant to ensure air and water quality, class sizes in K-12 will grow, and college students will be less able to pay the high cost of tuition.
12:45: Carol Dotlich, President of the WA Federation of State Employees takes the stage. ‘To say its a budget crisis is inaccurate. We simply have a temporary revenue crisis and a lack of political will.’ We shouldn’t ruin our state infrastructure and safety net to fix a temporary problem.
12:54 Urging attendees to lobby legislators and tell them how budget cuts would affect them personally. Cutting programs has real and harmful effects on real people, students, workers and children in our state. Working families in our state shouldn’t pay for the mistakes made by others.
12:59: Rally concludes. Washington State Troopers estimate crowd at 5,500.