Voices of the People’s Budget: Robby Stern, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action

This is the sixth part in our series, “Voices of the People’s Budget.” On the evening of October 30th, labor leaders, community organizers, social service providers, and engaged citizens came together for a People’s Budget Town Hall. Here they shared their concerns about the Mayor’s business as usual budget and began a conversation about what is necessary to make Seattle affordable for all.

Robby Stern, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action

Transcript of Speech as Delivered

My name is Robby Stern, and I’m President of Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action. I’ll just very briefly say that we support what others are saying, but there are some things that haven’t been mentioned that I want to mention. First, just on process, we’re very appreciative of Councilmember Sawant that we were asked to come forward with what our priorities as an organization for the city budget [are]. And our government relations committee discussed it. And these are the priorities that we laid out for the city budget.

First of all, I’m going to mention this because we’ve just dealt with a very sad situation in our own organization, where one of our members was coming to a meeting. She was walking across the sidewalk that had not been repaired; she fell, and ended up being hospitalized, ended up being out of commission for months and months as a result of that fall. So one of the things that we very much want to see, and I’m hearing that from other seniors as well, is we need funding to deal with the construction and repair of our sidewalks and infrastructure upgrades. That’s got to be in the budget. It’s something that all people need, and we need that in the budget.

We also need significant funding in the budget for struggling community institutions like the senior centers. There are a number of them that are just on the edge of going out of business. And these centers are places where seniors come to be fed, where seniors come for activity. We need to make sure that there is really an increase in the among of funding, because, as we know, the Baby Boomer generation is coming into seniorhood, as many of you know, and these institutions are going to be more and more important.

We also are very supportive of what Paul just talked about, the allocation of really sufficient funds for the enforcement of the labor standards that we worked so hard to achieve. And that would be the paid sick days ordinance and also the $15 minimum wage. If we don’t have the ability to enforce it’s going to be very difficult in order to be able to make it a reality for people.

Totally supportive of Sharon Lee’s remarks about housing for the homeless. We’ve got to delete this whole notion of Stepping Forward that the Seattle Housing Authority has. It’s outrageous and we have a lot of seniors in Seattle housing. We’ve got to stop that plan. The City Council should be taking that pledge [to not reappoint SHA board members]. We’ve got to change who is on that board.

We need assistance on utility rates for low income people. Obviously, we need a lot more low income housing, and we need assistance to low income [people] for bus and transit service. We totally support the head tax. We’ll be behind this as you’re fighting for it. Thank you very much.

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