Jesus Wants Tax Extensions

Ali Meyer and Katy Grimes: Reminiscent of an ACORN rally, nearly one thousand faith-based protestors congregated at the Capitol today to show their support for Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax extensions.

People Improving Communities Through Organizing, (PICO California), states that it is the largest grassroots-based organizing network in California, representing people from different racial, ethinic and religious backgrounds. PICO focuses on education, housing, immigration, and youth development issues. And, PICO emphasizes “civic responsibility,” and states on its website, “PICO’s relationship-centric model of organizing develops powerful social networks that have helped register and turnout thousands of new and low-propensity voters.”

This sounds a great deal like ACORN (Association for Community Organizations For Reform Now), the radical community organizing group.

Wearing t-shirts that read “Keep America in their homes,” and holding signs that said “Renewing the Convenant – Investing In Our Future,” one religious leader said that PICO represents 400 congregations and 450,000 families in California.

“We are here because we believe a balanced budget is the right thing to do,” said Rev. Sharon Stanley, the Executive Director of Fresno-based FIRM. “A balanced budget is the moral thing to do. And caring for the poor is the moral thing to do.”

FIRM – Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministry – also provides health and home, pre-school, and employment programs as well as community organizing.

Imam Naim Shah, Jr. with the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute lathered up the crowd sounding more like a politician than a religious leader. “We are soldiers for a common good,” said Shah. “We are the witnesses of truth.”

“Enough is enough!” said Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, addressing the rally, and specifically, cuts made to mental health and health and human services.

“It is not the time to ignore the educational needs of children,” said Steinberg, who said that the budget is not just numbers on a page…. “it’s about a real human being, a real school, a real university.”

Steinberg called for abolishing the two-thirds vote. “The majority of people should define peoples’ priority. Fair is fair – right is right,” said Steinberg, and said that even without the Republican votes required to pass the budget with a two-thirds margin, Democrats would pass the budget using a majority vote.

“Promise us you’ll do everything in your power to extend those taxes,” Stanley told Steinberg.  Steinberg agreed and said that he ran for office 19 years ago “to stand for people who don’t have a voice.”

The protestors were headed next to Legislator’s Capitol offices to lobby for the tax extensions before Wednesday’s 11:59 p.m. budget deadline.

Ali Meyer joins CalWatchdog for eight weeks as a summer intern. Meyer studies Political Science at the University of New Orleans.

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