Washington state protesters call for 'moral' budget cuts

A five-day, 50-mile march ended for one advocacy group and a five-day fast began for others Monday at the state Capitol.

The few dozen activists were making a statement about the harm they expect pending budget cuts to inflict on the social safety net and on those who depend on government for housing, food and medicine.

“Something’s wrong — definitely wrong,” said Gina Owens, who was homeless at one point and joined the march. She spoke tearfully on the Capitol steps about taking care of three grandchildren after her daughter Tifany died a few years ago without health insurance, and her worry about losing the housing that ended her own homelessness.

Bjorn Peterson, a graduate student at Seattle University’s theology and ministry school, said he intends to fast seven days — five of them as a vigil in the Rotunda while it’s open to the public. He began fasting Sunday, joining a church-sponsored vigil for humane budget cuts that is organized by the Washington Association of Churches, the Church Council of Greater Seattle and the Lutheran Public Policy Office of Washington State.

About 350 people allied with the tea party cause rallied Friday at the Capitol seeking lower spending and lower taxes. But like those who attended much larger rallies two weeks ago, those fasting and those ending the 50-mile march from Auburn to Olympia called on legislators to close tax exemptions that benefit interests that they say don’t need them. One mentioned in particular is the exemption of first-mortgage interest earnings for banks.

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