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Resolutions & Amendments

30th International Convention - Las Vegas, NV (1992)

Participation in Tax Coalitions

Resolution No. 31
30th International Convention
June 15-19, 1992
Las Vegas, NV


State and local governments continue to struggle with revenue structures that fail to adequately fund needed government programs. While the fiscal crisis is partly the result of cyclical economic problems, there are more significant structural origins as well. The fiscal problems affecting public services will not disappear just because the recession ends; and


The lack of funding for state and local government is diminishing the nation's ability to compete in the global economy. Studies have found that the failure of state and local governments to invest in physical infrastructure (such as roads, bridges, and sewers) is a significant cause of the decline in productivity growth since the mid-1970s. Similarly, investments in human capital -job training, health care, education and so on - will prove increasingly important in the 1990s and beyond. Unless we eliminate the backlog of needed investments the standard of living of average Americans will continue to decline; and


Well organized and well financed opponents of public services are too often successful in blocking attempts to finance needed investments. Candidates for public office, whether running for the presidency or school board, have learned how easily a demagogue can exploit issues of taxation. Tile result is that even when officials recognize the need to fund investments, they are unable to build majority support for sufficient revenue; and


The public is increasingly hostile to taxes because they recognize the current state and local tax systems are unfair. They see that while taxes for the rich have declined in recent years, their tax burdens have increased and services on which they rely have diminished. They are too often paying more and getting less, which is reason enough to be angry. In addition to making sure there are adequate revenues, advocates of public spending must, over the long term, also be concerned with fairness of the tax system; and


The problems that state and local governments face are fundamental and broad based, with taxpayers, service recipients and their advocates, "good government" activists, and public employees all having a great deal at, stake. Working individually, these groups may pursue competing policies, cancelling each other out; at a minimum, they are not as effective as the opponents to public services who are short sighted but, well organized. Working together and building consensus for systemic solutions that answer the myriad problems facing our communities, it is far easier to turn disparate groups into a majority force; and


Creating such a majority requires a broad based coalition in which each party has access to participation in decision making. Not, only do such coalitions more fully represent the issues and concerns of a broad spectrum of the public, their effectiveness is enhanced because they cannot be simply dismissed as "special interest groups." Building and nurturing these coalitions creates a body whose sum total is greater than its component parts.


That AFSCME encourages the formation of and cooperation with progressive coalitions to address full and fair funding of state and local government programs. Since coalition members typically have their own agenda for spending government funds, these coalitions should focus their energies on full funding raised in the most progressive manner possible; and


That support for these coalitions is meant to supplement — not supplant — AFSCME's ongoing legislative efforts in pursuit of its individual goals. Coalition building is intended to broaden the base of support for how public money is raised, which will help turn the tide on the fiscal problems facing state and local governments.


Joseph McDermott, President
Irene Carr, Secretary-Treasurer
CSEA Local 1000/AFSCME
New York