People’s Budget Report Finds Vermont Falls Short of Protecting Economic and Social Rights

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Today, on Human Rights Day, the Vermont Workers’ Center releases preliminary findings of its People’s Budget Project, which was carried out in collaboration with NESRI. Based on interviews with service providers, the report finds that the state of Vermont is neglecting its human rights obligations by cutting public services and public jobs in an economic crisis. This has had a significant negative impact on Vermonters struggling to meet their fundamental needs, especially already disadvantaged groups.

The preliminary findings are based on an ongoing collaborative research project carried out with a range of partners and allies, including the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) and advisers from three New England universities. The Workers’ Center conducted 16 interviews with non-profit service providers between September and November 2010. The report concludes that the government cut essential services and jobs despite rising needs among Vermonters, therefore failing to protect economic and social rights, such as health care, housing, education, and work with dignity.

“For the past several decades, there has been a shift in public policy towards helping the rich get richer at the expense of working people. In this economic crisis, Vermont should have raised taxes on the rich instead of cutting public services and public jobs, which has needlessly hurt Vermonters and is prolonging the recession,” Peg Franzen, president of the Vermont Workers’ Center, said.

The People’s Budget Project is developing tools for a human rights audit of the state’s budget, an internationally widely used method to assess whether a state’s revenue and expenditure policies meet human rights standards. The project will continue its work by engaging Vermonters in reviewing the state’s budget decisions, and broadening opportunities for participation in the government’s decision-making processes.

Download the report here.

A summary of the report’s findings is here.

An update with a brief analysis of the new governor’s budget, proposed in January 2011, is here.