The Naked Truth/Jamala Rogers

Jamala RogersColor

It’s our Money

More and more communities are demanding input into municipal budgets. I surmise that it has a lot to do with the ballooning of police and jail budgets compounded by the growing alienation of elected officials from the day-to-day lives of working people. The people are coming to the realization that we know what’s best for us. More importantly, it’s our hard-earned tax dollars that seem to benefit everyone but us.

We let these politicians milk us for taxes on the local, state and federal levels, and they end up

spending it however they please. We have fought hard for transparency and accountability. We have appealed to their conscience and consciousness to little avail. It’s time to get more organized and to get more knowledgeable about these budget processes.

Freedom Inc. engages low-income and working-class neighbors in social justice through direct services and leadership development. Last year, the group started their own budget process by surveying 1,500 Madison residents about what they saw as the city’s priorities. The Madison People’s Report is available at their website.

Freedom Inc. is encouraging residents to participate in the finance committee hearings over the next couple of weeks to voice their opinions about how
the city budget should look.

Not surprising, those surveyed selected three basic human needs over police and jails. Their priorities were decent housing for all, holistic health (including mental health) and jobs with living wages. These are good choices for spending the millions of dollars in city revenue. The findings are a
solid basis for having a collective discussion on what Madison values and what kind of city does it want to become.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has a definite perspective as the first open LGBTQA person to hold that office in Madison. They probably have a particular vision and direction for the city. The bottom line is the bottom line. Madison’s elected leadership, residents, values and vision could move into a positive alignment. The final budget will tell the story and perhaps set a new direction for expanding real human potential.