February 2020 Kitchen Table Activism:
Budgets as Moral Documents
WHY THIS ACTIVITY?
Oregon has more millionaires than ever before, but we also have record-breaking rates of houselessness and poverty. How can we make sure that our tax dollars are going toward our priorities: funding services and infrastructure that serve our communities? As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “budgets are moral documents,” and budget committees are where everyday community members get the chance to ask hard questions, learn what local tax dollars are funding, and make meaningful decisions to fund services and programs for our whole communities!
WHAT IS THE ACTIVITY?
Engage with your school district, city, and county by helping decide their budgets for the next year! This month, most budget committees for counties, cities, and school districts across the state are in the process of drafting budgets that will take effect July 1st of 2020. This includes a series of public meetings and can involve lively discussion if community members show up to join the conversation. All of us have a right to participate in this process and make sure that our local government spending matches up with our values and our communities’ priorities.
STEPS TO COMPLETE THE ACTIVITY:
- Find the meeting details for your local budget committees. Often community budgeting committees are desperate for volunteers so even if the application deadline has passed to join the committee, call up the city, the district office, or the county to see if they still need volunteers! Regardless of whether you become an official committee member or not, mark the meetings in your calendar and get ready to participate.
- Check out the slides from our Budgeting for the People workshops to get grounded in how to read budget documents and prepare your questions! Many budget committees don’t offer training in how to read reports or think critically about what the reports convey, which can make it difficult to engage in committee meetings with confidence. Our workshops and slides help get folks over the hump so they can dive right into asking critical questions that help make sure our budgets uphold the values of our communities.
- Do your homework. Prepare ahead of time to make sure you’re ready to ask questions! Some budget committee members are getting together with their local human dignity group to come up with questions together. More minds are better than one!
- Let us know how the meetings go and what you learn! ROP is happy to learn from and support budget committee members or attendees doing the work in their communities across the state. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Background: Kitchen Table Activism (KTA) is a monthly activity by the Rural Organizing Project. The theory is that small actions can lead to powerful collective results as groups of people gather to complete the same action throughout the state of Oregon. ROP works to keep each KTA easily achievable so that groups with other projects or groups with limited immediate energy can still manage to complete the KTA each month.