For Immediate Release:
December 18, 2018
Peter Cook, Executive Director, New York State Council of Churches – 508.380.8289
Ron Deutsch, Executive Director, FPI – 518.469.6769
Michael Kink, Executive Director, Strong Economy for All Coalition 518.527.2787
Statewide Coalition Urges State Leaders to Adopt New Hope Budget for All of New York
Albany, NY – Representatives from organizations across the state unveiled a set of principles which address the cries of far too many New Yorkers who have been left behind in this economic recovery. The Coalition urged elected officials from every part of the state—rural, suburban, and urban, to set aside distracting political recriminations and excessive focus on regional differences and come together to create a budget that, for the first time, deals seriously with wealth inequality and invests in all our people.
Our New Hope, New York Budget principles offer a path forward. The groups want the 2019 legislative session to focus on fighting poverty and racism, reducing inequality, strengthening our democracy, protecting our environment, fixing our state and local tax structure and creating a bottom up economic development model for the state.
“We call on the Governor and all of our legislators from both parties to make the needs of the most vulnerable of New Yorker’s their very highest priority. The New Hope, New York State Budget Principles for 2019 should guide the work of our lawmakers as they shape a truly moral budget. The principles result from the reflection and experience of over 30 secular and faith-based organizations which have, in past years, seen the reluctance of state politicians of both parties to forthrightly address great wealth inequality in our state. We hope for a new day. We call for the lifting of the 2% spending cap while calling on multi-millionaires and billionaires, who were the overwhelming beneficiaries of the Federal Tax Cut and Job’s Act, to pay a little more. We need to fix our local and state tax structure which punishes homeowners and renters in rural, suburban and urban regions while subsidizing the very wealthy. It’s time for bottom up investments in a clean energy economy. We also need to fix some of the worst voting laws in the country which suppress voters and get money out of politics by enacting public financing of elections,” said The Reverend Peter Cook, Executive Director, New York State Council of Churches.
“After numerous corruption trials and convictions, poor performance and results from existing programs and an overwhelming lack of transparency, I hope we can all agree it is long past time to reform our broken system of economic development. We need a bold new bottom-up approach to economic development and economic justice in New York. We need to focus on our human and physical infrastructure to attract more businesses to New York. We are wasting billions on programs that have proven to be riddled with corruption, it’s time for a change,” said Ron Deutsch, Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute.
“The first test of our new legislature will be whether they reject austerity and pass a budget for the many or continue the inequality-increasing policies of the last decade. Our communities can’t afford to wait any longer for bold investments in education, healthcare, housing, green infrastructure, and a strong safety net,” stated The Rev. Emily McNeill, Executive Director, Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State.
“New York is a leader state when it comes to health care because of our robust implementation of the Affordable Care Act, yet over a million New Yorkers still remain uninsured,” said Mark Hannay, Director of Metro New York Health Care for All. “To finish the job of getting to universal health care, we need a state budget that priorities health and human services for everyday New Yorkers, and that raises sufficient revenues from the right sources to make that possible. Further, by adopting budget policies that promote restoring economic equity between the rich and everyone else, the state will support the social and economic determinants of health and thereby lower its own health care costs, making it a win-win all around.”
“Over six million New Yorkers rely on Medicaid for their health and well-being. New York’s Medicaid program is strong and robust, but there are gaps through which vulnerable people sometimes fall. Our leaders in government have an opportunity to make sure no one falls through the cracks by raising revenue and not balancing the state budget on the backs of vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Lara Kassel, Coordinator of Medicaid Matters New York.
“In spite of the talk about a booming economy, New Yorkers continue to struggle with food insecurity stemming from the increase in the cost of food and housing and stubbornly stagnant wages. Many local food pantries and food assistance programs continue to experience an increase demand for help with feeding residents of their communities,” said Angela Warner, St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantry.
“While the Governor has called for a Green New Deal, it needs to be an emergency mobilization that combines immediate climate action on moving to 100% clean energy by 2030 with the bill of economic rights called for by FDR in his last State of the State. This includes a guarantee of a living wage job, single payer health care, quality housing, and fully funded education,” said Mark Dunlea, chair of the Green Education and Legal Fund.
“It is often observed that a budget is a moral document, in that it reflects social values, and what a society most prioritizes. It is a moral document in that it reflects who is counted in and who is counted out, whose needs are given precedence. In Jewish tradition, such a document is called a covenant, a sacred bond of mutual responsibility between two parties: in this case between NYS lawmakers and the communities they serve. From the faith community we come today to add our voice in demanding a moral budget, a progressive budget that prioritizes the needs of working people, of the poor, the marginalized and the dispossessed. In the words of the Hebrew Bible, the needs of the “widow, the orphan, and the stranger; in today’s terms the single mother, the undocumented immigrant, the incarcerated or formerly incarcerated, the homeless, the elderly, the ill. We call for a budget that fully funds the social services needed to care for these groups, to sustain them and allow them to live fully functioning, fulfilled lives. This is how we must prioritize our resources, our taxpayer dollars, not in massive giveaways, tax cuts, and corporate welfare to the wealthiest individuals and corporations. In this way we can truly be the progressive state we claim ourselves to be,” stated Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Executive Director, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition. “The Jewish community recently concluded our celebration of Hanukkah, a holiday celebrating bringing light into darkness. By passing such a “Peoples’ Budget here in NYS, we can bring some much needed light into what are indeed dark times in this nation.