Working for a True "Common Wealth"

2014 and Beyond !!!
Update from the Central Virginia Local

Hello friends and comrades!
The Socialist Party of Central Virginia is planning for a year of increased activity and big ideas. We need your participation!

Last year we updated you all on a number of things we had in the works. Some things have panned out, and others were slowed down. A few of our local members have been kept busy with newborn babies- a great thing- but also something that has slowed things down somewhat. 

2013, nevertheless, was a successful year and 2014 is shaping up to be busy with a new found sense of energy, urgency, and commitment to organizing for a socialist future!

First up- what's going on?
The Central Virginia local has been discussing how to implement the SP-USA 2013-2015 Plan of Action. The 2013 convention worked hard to come up with a clear direction for the party. Local organizations across the country are finding ways to plug in, and we here in Virginia are no exception. We have been spending some time recently reaching out to party members in Virginia who live outside the boundaries of the local and are vowing to keep all SPers involved in what is going on. Increasing communciation is a priority for the party and for our local. So drop us a line and let us know how you might feel like plugging in!

Two major initiatives are in the first steps stages:

1. Living Wage- our local has been committed to organizing for living wages particularly at the University of Virginia where we have been engaged since our founding. Given our dispersed presence around the state we are hoping to help assist all living wage campaigns on Virginia campuses by getting SPers and supporters involved, doing the leg work, and helping to coordinate statewide and local contacts and supporters of living wage campaigns around the state. We also recognize that the fight for a living wage, while obviously not the end of our support for workers everywhere, is ot limited to college campuses. We seek to communicate a clear analysis and vision of how living wage on campuses relate to all workers everywhere, and how the positive effects as well as limitations of living wages for workers in Virginia fit into a wider anti-capitalist pro-socialist vision and future.

2. Electoral Action- the Central Virginia local is thinking BIG! We will be reaching out to party members and fellow travelers to evaluate the possibilities of a coordinated statewide campaign to get Socialists to run for local offices, and possibly for statewide offices. We hope to draft candidates and endorse like minded candidates who support anti-capitalist and independent political action. We will also begin to analyze particular communities where the successes of socialist campaigns could be tangible for party building, movement building, affecting change, and even getting socialists elected. Not only have SP-USA candidates shown large percentages in elections over the past few years but also the recent victory of Kshama Sawant in Seattle (not *SPUSA), as well as the two examples (Pat Noble and Matt Erard) of SP-USA members being elected give us reason to believe that the time is ripe for the public to seriously consider socialism as an option on election day. 

The Central Virginia local has some great experiences and strategies to work with, having run our own candidate in the past, and having committed party members with solid organizing and electoral organizing skills.

We hope, as well, as the year progresses to turn our attention to other organizing campaigns found in the Plan of Action: environmental justice/eco-socialism, ending and confronting mass incarceration, and opposing wars and occupations. Not only do we want your input and participation but Central Virginia members are actively working through the national organization on committees furthering the party's goals, namely through the Anti-Imperialism Committee, the Eco-Socialism Commission, and the International Relations Committee. Working with the national organization is a great way for socialists to get involved and stay involved. please consider joining one of the many party commissions and committees and lend a hand!

Finally, we will be meeting on March 8 in Williamsburg for our next general meeting- all are welcome to attend! We will also be holding a workshop after the meeting, details posted soon! 

as always find us on facebook and check out our website (which we will be re-vamping at some point this year as well!)

So what about 2013?
The past year, as mentioned, was somewhat uneventful, yet the growing commitment to building the local and taking a stand began to appear. As always, when we do come out, we get attention!

The beginning of the year brought the Virginia People's Assembly, which we endorsed and had a small turnout for. Our participation in this important event waxes and wanes, but we are glad to remain connected to a larger statewide movement for jobs, peace and justice. We continued our endorsement for 2014, though our attendance was missing. In the past we have found this an amazing way to build contacts, and it has spawned some unique projects from our local such as the Virginia Against Oppression grassroots lobbying campaign to stand up for undocumented workers in our community by stopping racist legislation in the general assembly.

In Albemarle County a Board of Supervisors member was arrested for forcible sodomy. Despite the myriad accounts from multiple women regarding Chris Dumler's past assaults, he would not respond to calls for his resignation and the Democratic Party machine in Charlottesville behaved atrociously in supporting Dumler at all costs. The Central Virginia took a strong and principled stand against rape and contributed support to "bird dogging" Dumler at events, showing up to protest in court and supervisors meetings, and issuing and circulating a statement  that got a lot of attention in the press, including radio interviews, due to being part of a small handful of left leaning groups calling for his resignation. Eventually, Dumler was not removed by legal processes, but succumbed to increased public pressure and eventually resigned.

May Day is always a big event for the Central Virginia local. In 2013 we took advantage of our dispersed membership and endorsed and attended and assisted in the organizing of two different events, one in Charlottesville calling for justice in public housing, and in Richmond calling for a living wage for workers at VCU.

From there, yes, things tapered somewhat. We managed to endorse a few more actions, and stood up to support the call for a No Drones ordinance in Charlottesville (the first of its kind in the nation!) and attending and fully participating in various anti-war demonstrations. SP-CVA had a member participate in the Socialist Party contingent for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Central Virginia members have continued to be active with the SP-USA on the national level by participating on the National Committee, the Plan of Action Committee, and the Anti-Imperialism Committee.

We are committed to making 2014 a big year! We hope that by laying the groundwork for an expanded living wage campaign and a 2015 electoral strategy we will find that a socialist movement in Virginia is blossoming!

Join the movement! If you are not a party member please consider joining as we build for a socialist future!
You can join or renew on-line here
and can even set up a monthly dues payment plan (a great new addition!)
or just drop us a line to lend a hand, get updates, and offer support! perhaps you want to assist in organizing for a living wage in your community or perhaps you have a hankering to openly declare yourself a socialist and run for office! 

Always in Unity,
Brandon Collins
Secretary, Socialist Party of Central Virginia
(434) 249-3312

MAY DAY 2013
SP-CVA in the Streets
in Richmond and Charlottesville !!!



facebook living wage protest:
facebook march:

Cville May Day!
What: May Day Rally and March for Dignity and Justice in Public Housing

When: Wednesday, May 1st  3 pm- 6 pm

Where: Federal Courthouse (corner McIntire and W. Main) March to City Hall/Free Speech Wall,  Downtown Charlottesville

Who: PHAR and Residents of Public Housing

Members of PHAR (Public Housing Association of Residents) and residents of Charlottesville’s public housing will take to the streets for May Day to demand Dignity and Justice for Residents of Public Housing.

Richmond May Day Events!
What: May Day Living Wage Rally and Protest/May Day Parade
When: 12:00 noon rally, 5:00 pm parade
Where: Rally at VCU Student Commons (The Plaza, Richmond Va 23222) Parade begins at Monroe Park (W. Main and N. Belvidere)

Statement on Chris Dumler

The SP-CVA supports the call for Chris Dumler to resign his position on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors immediately. We call on our community to vigorously and vocally engage in action that will make this a reality. We support non-violent direct action towards this end. We support the disruption of all ACBOS events and other gatherings where Chris Dumler will be present to make the day-to-day operations of county government untenable until something is done to remedy this situation.

Sexual assault is a hard reality for millions of women and men alike. As a physical, cultural, and personal reality it is also a political reality that demands a political response. That response should based on the concept of that which is personal is political. We call for a new politics in this crisis, a politics that demands the end of male-dominated and class-dominated power structures that are reinforced by rape and patriarchal dominance while simultaneously protected from the legal consequences for sexual assault.

We know that there are crisis workers and more than three women who know the truth about Chris Dumler's actions. We know that justice has not been served. We know that this lengthy delay in justice, and lack of accountability in our legal system towards those of privilege and power like all matters of justice when deferred are ultimately denied.

We know that the events surrounding Dumler's actions and the response from our judicial system, media system, and local political party systems contribute to the under reporting of sexual assault in general and to the personal trauma experienced by the female victims of Dumler's assaults.

Though we consider the subjugation of women in the family, in the workplace, and in the public consciousness an inherent property of capitalism, we support the call for Chris Dumler to resign solely on the grounds that his brutal behavior has caused unspeakable harm to our fellow human beings. To compound his crimes, he has been unwilling to admit to, or apologize for his actions. Those who support Chris Dumler and would prefer to place concern for the local party machine over justice, participate in denying aid and comfort to Dumler’s victims. Support for Chris Dumler detracts from the cause of women's liberation in the most insidious way- it serves to validate the denial of the existence of rape in our society and contributes to pressuring victims of sexual assault to remain silent and suffering especially if those assaults are perpetrated by white men born into positions of power.

Mr. Dumler’s plea bargain allows him to continue to serve on the Board of Supervisors. Were he an ordinary citizen, would his crime be so easily bargained down from a felony to a simple misdemeanor? This extraordinary leniency confirms that the rule of law has broken down. If Chris Dumler is not held accountable for the heinous crimes he has committed against his neighbors, how can he be trusted to serve and promote the public good? 
Chris Dumler Resign Now!

The Socialist Party of Central Virginia is a local chapter of the Socialist Party USA and is a democratic socialist feminist party;
We support the cause of women's liberation as defined by women themselves. 
Statement of the SP-CVA approved by the general meeting March 10, 2013

Pleased to report that we will be holding a meeting this coming Sunday

Sunday, March 10
2:00 pm
Charlottesville, Va

Some key agenda points, and feel free to send agenda items to me or just bring them up under "other business"

Call to Order
Approve Agenda
Approve New Members
Approve Past minutes
Secretary/Treasurer Report

National Business
1. SPUSA 40 year events/committees
2. National Call-In Locals Rep (we need a rep)
3. Plan of Action Committee for 2013 convention
4. 2013 Convention
5. Committees
6. Other national

Local Business
1. Officers
2. Re-energizing the local
3. April Days of Action on Drones
4. Dumler statement?

Other Business

Good and Welfare

2013 Virginia Peoples Assembly

Join us and hundreds of other activists and organizers at this year's 
Virginia Peoples Assembly !!!

January 5
9:30 am- 9:30 pm
(registration starts at 8:30 am)
Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, 
1720 Mechanicsville Turnpike, 
Richmond, VA 23223

and check out this cool video!!!

For the fifth year in a row, union members, community activists, prisoner advocates, immigrants, students, women, antiwar organizers, veterans, members of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the LBGTQ community from across Virginia will gather together in Richmond on the Saturday before the opening session of the Virginia General Assembly. We will network, educate each other about our different struggles, build alliances in the fight for social change in our communities and further the movement to create a society that is truly “of, by and for the people!”

Schedule (subject to change - please check back when it gets closer to the event)

8:30 am (& throughout the day for latecomers) – Registration
9 - 9:30 am – 1st Plenary Session – Welcome, Orientation on the Schedule & Goals of the Day
9:30 - 11 am – Networking Sessions & Workshops
11 am - 12:30 pm – Networking Sessions & Workshops
12:45 - 1:45 pm – Lunch & Black Community Caucus Meeting
2 - 3:30 pm – Panel Discussions
3:45 - 5:15 pm – Panel Discussions
5:30 - 6:30 pm – Report Backs from Workshops & Panels; Presentation of Resolutions & Action Proposals
6:30 - 7:30 pm – Dinner
7:30 - 8:30 pm – Voting on Resolutions & Action Proposals
8:30 - 9:30 pm – Rally

Suggested donation $5 – more if you have it, less if you don't. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Update from SP-CVA
Hello Comrades!

Our apologies for not sending an update in a very long time. The Central Virginia local chapter of SP-USA is still here, though we have been somewhat inactive since last winter.

Obama has been re-elected- the wars, occupations, austerity, mass incarceration, ecological destruction, the war on women, the war on drugs, the war on education all continue and the time is now more than ever to continue to build the socialist movement in Virginia, in the U$, and around the world.

First up- super amazing news!
Pat Noble, a 19 year old Socialist Party member (and secretary of his local) from Red Bank, New Jersey got elected to the Red Bank Regional High School Board of Education with 54% of the vote!
Pat has worked hard, and ran an openly socialist campaign, promoting the party the whole way through. We are super excited to show that open socialists can and do get elected!

A number of other SP-USA candidates ran great campaigns, including the Alexander/Mendoza ticket and John Strinka in Indiana.
A full run down on electoral totals can be found at

Unfortunately, the SP Central Virginia local could not find the energy to get official write-in status for Stewart Alexander for President. The effort in 2008 was huge, took a lot of attention and allowed for no real campaigning. As you may recall, Brian Moore received only 8 write-in votes in Virginia in 2008. As we are all very busy, no one could find the ability to make this happen. Apologies for not alerting everyone earlier on in the year, but again, most of us are crazy busy- which means...We Need Your Help to build a movement in Virginia!

The past year did bring a few things into play for the Central Virginia local, we began by spearheading the coordination of local activist groups to support a living wage at UVA. The hunger strike there brought mild gains, but well worth it. The participation by members of the SP-CVA certainly gave the students a more radical approach- especially once we helped organize the takeover of UVA Rotunda during the Board of Visitors meeting! We are concerned that living wage at UVA may be in some dissaray and vow to continue to mobilize community and worker support for such an important cause.

The local also sponsored two important events in Charlottesville- Anne Wright spoke about wars, occupations, and Palestine and the day after we hosted Medea Benjamin for a talk on Drones. We also endorsed national demonstrations opposing war on Iran, and endorsed and attended the Virginia People's Assembly. Socialist Party of Central Virginia was instrumental in getting an anti-war resolution passed in Charlottesville city council, SPCVA members recently helped to organize a Buy Nothing Day event, and attended Palestine Solidarity demonstrations.

We are very much looking forward to re-energizing, possibly re-organizing the local, and getting more active in 2013!

Coming up:
- Virginia People's Assembly January 5th- details tba
- national committee meeting January 12-13 (drop us a line if you have thoughts or want to attend!)
- David McReynolds to speak in Charlottesville (possibly Harrisonburg too!) TBA- (February or March)
- SPUSA national convention will be this fall, somewhere on the east coast
- recruitment drive?
- anti-torture actions?
- fielding candidates for local and statewide races?
- May Day 2013
- (Perhaps we may be able to organize a statewide gathering of SP members and fellow travelers?) 
- And much more with your help!!!

As always we love to hear your thoughts comrades!
e-mail us at

UVA Living Wage Now for All Workers!
Community sends letter supporting workers, students and faculty.
The time is now, show up, be heard Feb. 18 - 24 at UVA
info here

SP-CVA signed on to this community letter, and is actively working to rally community support for the student led effort at UVA.

Dear President Sullivan and University of Virginia Board of Visitors:

We, the undersigned, write to you today to express our commitment to economic justice and to call on you to act.

We are individuals and organizations who have great concern for the well being of the people who live and work in our community, particularly in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. We share a commitment to economic justice and to equity in our communities. Collectively, the organizations we represent have thousands of members.

As the area's largest employer, the University of Virginia has a responsibility -- indeed, an obligation -- to improve our community.
We believe that the University has neglected this obligation and continues to do so. We call on you to take action by finally resolving the issue of living wages at the University in a fair, satisfying, and comprehensive way. We call on you to take this action now.

As you surely recognize, the University affects the cost of living in Charlottesville in major ways, particularly with respect to housing costs. We believe that the University could offset the negative impacts of its increasing these costs for some of our community's most vulnerable members by paying its employees enough to meet the cost of living.

We remind you that in 2000 the University committed to a base pay increase for direct employees, and that we commended you for doing so.
That increase, however, did not include cost of living adjustments, nor did it include contracted employees. We had hoped that these issues would be addressed in a timely manner -- certainly by now, a dozen years later.

During that period, the Living Wage Campaign, currently configured as Workers And Students United, repeatedly presented its scrupulous research and stated its case with deep respect for administrative process. Concurrently, we in the community have stood with workers, students, and faculty. We have called on you to listen to their concerns, rallied, written letters, and requested meetings. In good faith, all of us have asked for commitments from you. The arguments have now been presented, the necessity and practicality of action proven.

Overall, it must be said, we have not been satisfied with the University's response. Frankly, at times we have even been disappointed by the dismissive tone of University communications. Such feelings, however, are fleeting compared with the enduring nature of the issues at stake.  And like those issues, the Living Wage Campaign will not go away -- that is, until those issues are resolved in a fair, satisfying, and comprehensive manner.

The time for straight answers and firm commitments is here. The University of Virginia needs to pay a living wage to all of its employees. We believe that the University has the potential to be a powerful force for positive change in our community. To further this end, we call for:

- a living wage of no less than $13.00 per hour as the base pay for all direct employees;
- cost of living adjustments that are automatic and annual;
- all contracts with University service providers to include a living wage and cost of living adjustments

We stand with Workers And Students United and fully support their demands as presented on February 8, 2012 and will stand with them on February 17, 2012 and beyond if a commitment is not made to ensure a living wage, safe working conditions, and job security for all workers by that date.

As always, workers, students, faculty, and community are standing united in our call for a living wage. We are present, we are showing up, and we are taking the steps necessary to gain equity and economic justice in our community through the establishment of a living wage for all workers at the University of Virginia.


Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP
Virginia Organizing
Legal Aid Justice Center
Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice
Public Housing Association of Residents
Campus Workers United
Wayside Center for Popular Education
Cville Workers Action Network
Socialist Party of Central Virginia
Richmond General Organizing Branch Industrial Workers of the World
Joyful Dissent

Kristin Szakos- Vice-Mayor City of Charlottesville
David Swanson- founder, author, blogger
Jeffery Fogel- Civil Rights Attorney
M. Rick Turner- president Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP
Brenda Lambert- Community Activist
Jim Shea- Community Activist

2012 Virginia General Assembly 
Resumes Attacks on Women, Immigrants and Workers!

Stand Up and Fight Back against police and schools checking immigration status, 
E-verify, denying drivers licenses, charging for interpreters in court cases...
Stop restrictions on workers compensation, and drug testing for social services recipients!
Protect Women's Rights and Health!
Find out more HERE and get involved now!

Socialist Party members nationwide are participating in the occupy movement in many ways. Here are some resources-
Article from SP-USA co-chair Billy Wharton
Article on SP-USA arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge

2011-2012 Minimum Legislative Agenda
The following agenda was crafted by the Socialist Party of Central Virginia to present some basic, achievable, legislative goals to the legislature, governor's administration, and people of the Commonwealth of Virginia. We readily admit that these goals are not all it takes to transition into socialism; they are merely a minimum of goals that we can work for. We hope to bring these issues into the public discussion during the election season, and beyond into the legislative session for 2012.

Socialist Party of Central Virginia Secretary announces run for
Charlottesville City Council- learn more here


click HERE

Virginia Stands with Wisconsin
passed by the SP-CVA Local Executive Committee March 12, 2011

The Central Virginia local of the Socialist Party USA extends its enthusiastic solidarity to the workers of Wisconsin. We are prepared to stand with you as long as it takes to ensure that collective bargaining remains a recognized fundamental right upon which public sector workers can rely to achieve a decent life. We are opposed to any union busting on the part of the very government that is constituted to promote the welfare of its citizens and we consider your fight as  our own. We are inspired by your courageous efforts and hold up your dedication and service as an example to all workers across our nation. We offer our highest thanks to all of you who have worked tirelessly and aggressively to counter the union busting in the great State of Wisconsin and drawing the line for the rest of the country by forcefully standing up for the principal that the authoritarian actions taken by the governor and legislature is completely unacceptable. Your fight is the first step towards strengthening the labor movement in our own state, and for that we offer thanks, well wishes, and solidarity.

Our governor has been highly supportive of Governor Walker in his union busting effort and here in Virginia we haven't had collective bargaining for state employees in recent memory. A recent attempt to amend the Virginia Constitution to enshrine right-to-work laws and other anti-union measures was an expression of the ruling class dominance of the political process that you are currently struggling to combat. The sad fact is, that in our commonwealth those anti-worker policies are already Virginia statute! As is the case in your state, the proxies of the ruling class in the legislature wanted to curtail the power of the people of the state and tout their anti-union bona fides to gain political and corporate support.

Regrettably, we don't have collective bargaining for state employees in Virginia and, not surprisingly, we don't have strong  public sector unions! In fact we barely even have private sector unions. That is because our state is unfriendly to working class organizing by virtue of restrictive Virginia law, not just corporate resistance to work place democracy. We don’t want Wisconsin, or anywhere else, to have to deal with the negative consequences associated with laboring without effective and progressive representation from democratically constituted unions. We hope that Wisconsin will continue to push back aggressively in order to secure the benefits of unionization for yourselves, and to provide a beacon of hope for the rest of us follow, and we will help!

The Socialist Party of Central Virginia fully supports a GENERAL STRIKE  for a number of reasons. First, the other option that exists for reversing the bill diffuses the energy that has been built up around this fight. It would show that when things get pushed to the limit, the power structure need only rely on the masses to go home and try electing a new batch of politicians. This is a lengthy process if the ultimate goal is to regain collective bargaining. The push forward through a general strike sends a completely different message, namely that the people have the actual power and they are ready and willing to exert it to check the abuse of power by their representatives. The goal is to secure the right to collectively bargain, not merely settling for a new government. If the people of Wisconsin are forced, by the undemocratic actions of the servants of corporate power to strike, then  the unions must return to their aggressive roots and their brave stand against government-sponsored union-busting can and will prevail!

The stakes are high, and we understand that mass layoffs could result. This concern is shared by workers everywhere who are engaged in organizing, but your strength and courage now can provide an example to all workers everywhere. Proper education about the purpose of the general strike is necessary for public support, and to keep scabs from taking your jobs. We believe that national support for a general strike effort is critical, and we are prepared to support that effort to cultivate that support here in our commonwealth, Just as the tens of thousands of people in the streets of Madison forced politicians to avoid a quorum, the people of Wisconsin must continue to hold the streets, occupy the statehouse, and compel union leadership to take a strong stand in favor of demonstrating union and worker strength.

As socialists we encourage you to take the struggle to all parts of society and culture and encourage you to envision a world where all people are treated as equals, where all workers have access to the fruits of their labor, where democracy means more than two parties vying for corporate sponsorship. We encourage you to envision as well the process by which we will achieve these ends, a process that we see as being in use right now in the streets of Wisconsin.

Above all, strike or no strike, recall or no recall, collective bargaining or not, we support all workers in their attempts to bring democracy to their workplaces. As socialists we encourage you to take the struggle to all parts of society and culture and encourage you to envision a world where all people are treated as equals, As Wisconsin stands up, so does Virginia.

In Solidarity and Unity,
Socialist Party of Central Virginia

Charlottesville Passes Resolution Opposing Anti-Immigrant Legislation
February 7, 2011
        Charlottesville City Council passes unanimous resolution opposing long list of anti-immigrant bills in the General Assembly

        Charlottesville's regular first Monday City Council meeting saw dozens of people showing up to make sure that a resolution pertaining to statewide immigration legislation would pass.
        In the unanimous vote, the Council expressed its "strong opposition" to a long list of bills directed towards undocumented people, stating that "Charlottesville recognizes that all people living or working in Virginia are entitled to respect and inalienable human rights regardless of residency status."
        Some of the bills being opposed would deny public services, higher education, use of the Virginia Employment Commission, and driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. Other bills allow Virginia police to act as federal immigration officials, set up a system through the Department of Homeland Security to check residency status, allow police to stop anyone suspected of being here illegally, remove local oversight of federal immigration investigations, put Virginia in charge of detaining and paying for immigrants awaiting deportation, and mandate all parents to verify residency when enrolling children in public schools.
SP-CVA Statement on Anti-Immigrant Legislation
Posted February 3, 2011
By Aaron Smith-Walter

        The Socialist Party of Central Virginia recognizes the fundamental worth and dignity of each and every human being, and the basic human right associated with the ability to travel unencumbered. 
        The Socialist Party of Central Virginia also recognizes that each and every person is entitled to the means to earn a decent living through meaningful work, and that this right is contingent upon nothing other than membership in the human community and does not respect limitations based on narrow divisions associated with national citizenship.

        The Socialist Party of Central Virginia supports the vision of a United States which opens its arms and its borders to the very individual
s whose labor is the fundamental ingredient in the material benefits that we enjoy.
        In light of these values that place the value of people over profits, the Socialist Party of Central Virginia calls upon our fellow Virginians and our elected representatives to oppose the following legislation, which, when taken in its totality, amounts to a full frontal assault on some of the valued members of our communities for crass political gain. Instead of focusing on the incredibly low level of corporate income tax in our commonwealth, or the fact that corporations intent on hyper-exploiting overseas laborers have shipped millions of jobs overseas to the detriment of workers in our country, as reasons that our educational system and social services are under-funded, our legislatures have chosen to try to balance the budget on the backs of some of the least powerful persons in our Commonwealth.