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As state and local governments wrestle with budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic, it's time to demand our elected representatives pursue budgets that reflect our values. This means budgets with more money - financed by taxes on millionaires and giant corporations - to protect workers, housing, health care, schools, and income guarantees, not for police, prisons, and criminal courts.

Over the last 40 years, state and local governments have tripled the amount they spend on police and corrections - an increase of $134 billion since 1977 - continuing to rise whether crime statistics went up or down. As we have seen, policing and mass incarceration have wreaked havoc on Black and Brown communities. They have been driven by self-serving politicians, prosecutors, and police unions pushing racist “law and order” policies, not by a real commitment to repairing and preventing harm.

As police budgets have expanded and police department's missions have crept into more areas of society, from school security to mental health services, their involvement has made things worse. Criminalizing students, persons without housing, or those with addictions does not increase public safety. Killing with impunity is not law and order.

But now we know what is essential. For the last few months, we’ve shared the load with teachers, saluted care workers, welcomed unemployment insurance and COVID testing and treatment from the government, and marched to end anti-Black policing. The solution to the coming budget deficits is not to fire public workers or cut our assistance programs, but to restructure our taxes and budget priorities to meet fundamental needs and protect human rights.  

The wealth of America's billionaires actually increased by nearly 10% over just three weeks as the COVID-19 crisis took hold. April was a terrible month for tens of millions of workers whose jobs were eliminated, but one of Wall Street’s most profitable months ever. As we enter the greatest economic crisis in the last century, it’s time for the rich to pay their share.

We don’t have to go back to the way things were. The future we need is within our reach, and there is enough for all of us. Sign up here and join this fight.

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