In 2016 we will face a series of challenges, and your powerful and effective voices are sorely needed. While we do not yet know what fully awaits us legislatively, we do know that once again we will be called upon to raise our voices with and for those whose programs have been the sacrifices demanded to secure our state's well being.
We know we were correct in opposing Proposition 2 in 2014. It did its job perfectly; it secured funds to pay off some debt and to establish a 'rainy day fund' for future budget crises. But at no point did we have the conversation about what moral obligation we have to build back the programs that were cut in bad times, with money hacked out of programs for those in need. Last year's budget repaid nothing to programs for families on limited welfare, to support programs for the working poor, elders, children. It even cut programs for people with developmental disabilities forcing their local support systems to close.
We will be fighting for some evidence of Budget Justice as well as for legislative changes that improve service delivery to those in need, for better treatment of immigrants, for racial justice and equity, and for all that comes our way - for good or for ill - that call us to speak out.
Now is the time to form your Faithful Fridays groups. As a reminder, Faithful Fridays are our California version of the hugely successful "Moral Mondays" held at the Capitol in North Carolina. Rather than bring you all here, we urge you to work in your Assembly and Senate districts at the district offices. On Fridays, the legislators are usually present seeing you, the constituents. This is the perfect time to get a meeting with them or their staff members. Staff, of course, are your best allies since they are often more deeply engaged in issues than any one elected person could be.
It is important to build a relationship with your legislators now so you will be known and appreciated when you want to be present for advocacy work. Learn how large their office is so you know how large your group can be. Find out the legislator's priorities, then tell him or her what your priorities are. Build coalitions to go - work with other faith groups, racial justice advocates, children's advocates, health care personnel, labor, immigrants, youth- the more diverse your voices, the more authority you have.
If you're uncertain who represents you and where their offices are, please go to: www.churchimpact.org/take-action.html Then enter and save your ZIP or address to get the links to your specific legislators.
The faith community, your congregation alone or a broader coalition, has enormous influence since we are among the very few groups that speak so frequently for those other than ourselves. Altruism and moral witness are, as you probably know, in fairly short supply in politics! Your speaking on issues of grave concern is a powerful act of justice!
Let us know if you need help. We are here to support you however we can. We will be sending alerts to let you know of critical issues. We hope you will be the visible presence in your area for the issues that matter to us all. You have power beyond measure with your actions and your words.