More than 100 Worcester residents turned out Monday for a community speakout in support of the Act to Invest in Our Communities Monday and heard testimony about the devastating cuts that have forced the city to lay off nearly a third of its workforce.
“We've done everything we can on the city side to keep municipal costs down,” said Worcester Mayor Joe O'Brien, who helped organize the meeting.
“We've done everything we can but in many ways we're at a breaking point. We need to find solutions to find ways to get more revenue into our community. We all have to work together on this.”
The state is facing a budget shortfall that could be as high as $2 billion. O'Brien and other Worcester residents said the cuts that would result from next year's budget would create an “unprecedented challenge” for the city.
Education Association of Worcester President Lenny Zalauskas said the Worcester schools have lost 500 teachers since 2001 and are bracing for even more cuts. State Rep. James O'Day, who is lead sponsor of the Act to Invest in Our Communities said his bill, which would raise $1.3 billion according to Mass. Department of Revenue estimates, would provide a balanced alternative to the $2 billion in cuts the House is currently planning.
“We want to have a discussion; a frank, honest and healthy discussion,” O'Day said. We need to equalize the playing field and that's what this is all about. I want to have a conversation with all of my colleagues on finding a way to make things more balanced when it comes to taxes.”
ONE Massachusetts is among many groups in the state supporting the Act to Invest in Our Communities. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for May 5 at 10:30 in Gardner Auditorium. If you're interested in testifying on behalf of the bill or otherwise showing support, please contact Yawu Miller by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 617-275-2918.