Are you an override mom?
posted at 3/10/2008 11:51 PM EDT
I would be interested in knowing how many people who reject prop 2.5 overrides actually go to the town meetings where budgets are struggled with ad nauseum. How many sit in on their town's finance committee meetings, how many readáand understand the town budget? For many towns, there is legitimately no fat left to trim. My town passed its first successful override in 15 years two years ago after several failed attempts to do so in years prior. And you know what got it done? A grassroots campaign led largely by...you guessed it...local moms. Prior to the override, in a five-year span the town had cut 30 positions, many of them in the police, fire, and public works departments, all while the population grew considerably. In the year prior to the override, the council on aging and recreation budgets were decimated as well. In reaction to rising health care costs, all of the collective bargaining agreements struck with represented employees successfully included increases in the amount of health coverage passed on to employees, so it wasn't a "union" thing. This town simply no longer had the revenue to support even baseline expenses. For many reasons that cannot be immediately fixed, many towns find themselves in unfavorable revenue situations. In my town, we do not have public sewer, a deterrant to many businesses, so most of our revenue is residential, and while that makes for a lovely place to live, the flip side means coughing up a little more cash for the priviledge of living here. When the override passed, services that apply to all town populations, not just families with children, were restored to baseline levels.Before rejecting prop 2.5 overrides immediately, those who oppose them should make sure that first they attend their local meetings, read and understand the budget, and if they have suggestions as to how to make ends meet without additional revenue, offer up those suggestions. Then once you know what's actually going on, vote your conscience knowing that you are doing so based on facts, not anti-government bias.And for those who think "override moms" are a nuisance or should get a life, look out. We're organizing across regions, states, and nationally. We areáusing e-mail and other campaigns toáour state and federal representatives to let them know how we feel about issues that affect our families, our children, and our community. We are signing petitions, meeting with senators and representatives in person, and are getting results. And no, we're not all sitting at home all day dreaming up new things to do. I work full-time (as does my husband) and have a second job. Many of us who are organizing and getting more politically active already give a lot of time to our communities and do the grunt work of this sort of thing late into the night after the kids are in bed. There are a lot of powerful groups (lobbyists) out there who fight for what benefits them at all levels of government, from specific industries, to business in general, to unions, to groups like the AARP. It's high time that parents (not just moms, by the way) get organized and get out there to fight forásensible changesáthat benefit children, families, and communities. We are a HUGE group of people and we DO NOT turn out at the polls in meaningful numbers. What a waste of power, and what a lousy civics lesson for our children.J. Starr