Coalition for a Different Society Demands Fair Budget Allocation

ACRI and partners present policy makers with detailed ‘Principles for a Just and Worthy Budget’,

A new and innovative civil society coalition of more than 40 diverse organizations called ‘A Different Society is Possible’ (Hebrew: Hevra Aheret Efsharit), of which ACRI is a central member, has taken on the mission to raise awareness of budgetary allocations that disregard the needs of the growing number of underprivileged Israelis.

Following the establishment of a new Israeli government in March 2009, the coalition placed targeted efforts to advance principles of equality and justice within the State Budget and the Economic Arrangements Bill 2009-2010, which is presented by the government alongside the budget and allows it to pass economic measures in one fell swoop without proper discussion by the Knesset.

The budget and Arrangements Bill are key components in outlining the allocation of State funds, and throughout recent months numerous interest groups have tried to influence the final drafts of these bills. A Different Society initiated multiple public outreach efforts to express to a wide range of audiences, including decision makers, community leaders, journalists, businesspersons, and others, the ways in which the 2009-2010 budget favors the wealthy while raising sales tax on basic goods and cutting budget allocations to education and welfare.

Position Paper Outlines Principles for a Just Budget: Attorney Debbie Gild-Hayo, ACRI’s Director of Policy Advocacy, was an active and key member of the coalition’s initiative to present policy makers with a 20-page position paper entitled ‘Principles for a Just and Worthy Budget’, mapping out ways to ensure a wide range of human rights be respected within the State Budget; and presenting policy-makers and the public with a cohesive record on ‘Budgetary Myths’. ACRI’s staff also prepared and circulated, on behalf of the coalition, a flash presentation on the struggle for a just budget that was widely disseminated on the Internet.

Public Event in Mahane Yehuda Market: Bringing the word to everyday merchants and shoppers, A Different Society organized in June a public event in Jerusalem’s Mahne Yehuda Market in cooperation with the Mahane Yehuda Market Traders Association. The protestors set up market stalls and handed out t-shirts and flyers explaining how the budgetary allocations disregard the needs of the growing number of disadvantaged Israelis. To festively mark the end of the event, social activists cut up a huge cake baked especially for the occasion, which served as a symbolic budgetary cake demonstrating the unfair division of the new budget.

Conference in Knesset Calls to Annul Arrangements Law: In addition, the Forum to Annul the Economic Arrangement Bill, of which ACRI is an active member, organized a conference in the Knesset in June, which was attended by a dozen MKs and about one hundred civil society representatives and activists. Thanks in part to ACRI’s Director of Policy Advocacy, the forum has gained the backing of the Knesset’s social lobby.

The aims of the conference were to conduct an in-depth debate on the Economic Arrangement Bill and its implications; to highlight the vast public criticism of the bill; and to enlist the support of MKs to take proactive steps against it. Speakers included former and current government officials, as well as activists and representatives from academia. ACRI was encouraged by the work of the social lobby, and hopes the Knesset will follow in the footsteps of the Israeli Supreme Court, which has ruled in the past that the bill is neither a suitable nor democratic legislative process.

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Categories: Labor Rights, Social and Economic Rights, The Right to Education, The Right to Equality, The Right to Health, Welfare

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