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The Virginian People's Assembly: Call and Report

From the VPA's "Read the Call"

On Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010, hundreds of activists from the labor, civil rights, immigrant, prisoner advocacy, student, health, anti-war movements & more
will meet & march & rally to tell the new governor & the Virginia General Assembly:

(1) Don't balance the budget on the backs of Virginia's workers!
(2) Raise Virginia's income tax on large corporations – the 2nd lowest in the country!
(3) Enact an immediate moratorium on layoffs, cutbacks, evictions & foreclosures!
(4) No scapegoating of immigrants! Equality for people of color, women & the LGBT community!
(5) Money for jobs & education, not for prisons, wars & occupations!

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Virginia General Assembly will open its 2010 session. We'll have a new governor, but the same old problem: the state budget has been hit hard by the recession, resulting in rising unemployment and steep losses in income tax and sales tax revenue. Already, $7 billion has been cut from the present two-year budget. Sometime in December, outgoing Gov. Tim Kaine will unveil his proposal for the state's next two-year budget. That document will be the basis for discussion at the General Assembly - and it will be chock-full of layoffs and cutbacks that will hurt all working people, coming down hardest on people of color and women.

Of course, there will be arguments about how to carry out the cuts, but one thing that all politicians of both major parties agree on is that the only way to balance the state budget is to lay off state workers, cut needed social services and aid to the cities and counties and find a million-and-one other ways to squeeze the hides of Virginia's working people.

Meanwhile, all the politicians will try their very best to ignore this one simple fact: VIRGINIA

Meanwhile, all the politicians will try their very best to ignore this one simple fact: VIRGINIA HAS THE SECOND LOWEST CORPORATE INCOME TAX IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY! This means that the wealthiest people in the state are not paying their fair share of the tax burden! Leveling the playing field could mean balancing the budget without having to hurt those who are already suffering the real effects of the recession: the layoffs, cutbacks, evictions and foreclosures. We're not talking here about small businesses that already are being crushed by Virginia's regressive tax rates. We're demanding that the banks and big corporations like Dominion, Philip Morris, Massey Energy, Northrop Grumman, Verizon and Media General pay their fair share!

Report by Dean Sayers

On January 9th, about a hundred other members of the anti-war, black and labor groups / communities came together in a small church in Richmond, VA. After passionate speeches by a number of speakers in the group, we split off into several groups, depending on our interests: among those were the aforementioned groups, as well as for Women and prisons rights. We each decided on a list of demands, heavily influenced by the same list drawn up in the same fashion last year, to be brought to the Virginia General Assembly.

Then we headed out to the streets, representing the causes of "Jobs, Peace and Justice" specifically. We marched through the financial district, decrying various corporate entities and their attacks on the working class. The bitter cold had subsided for the day in the form of surprisingly calm winds, and of the few bystanders who braved the cold that Saturday, I personally saw at least 5 of them join in the march. The police had given us no trouble, aside from some bureaucratic issues with the route earlier on.

Later on, on the first day of the Virginia General Assembly, about five of us converged on the senate building to hold our banner (which then governor-elect McDonnell saw as he walked with about four other delegates down 9th St) and to bring our list of demands - printed on bright yellow, 11x17 sheets - to each of the senators and delegates.

Since then, we have held our banner (demanding "Jobs, Peace Justice" and to "Make the corporations pay their fair share") at the inauguration, and elected representatives of the groups will be having continuations meetings on a monthly basis, until we can bring our demands to the General Assembly again next year.


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