February 4, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Icicles were falling dangerously close to the different labor and community groups that protested outside Governor Andrew Cuomo’s offices on Third Avenue on Monday but said it’s worth the stretch because the governor’s budget does more for rich folk than ordinary folk.
In the accompanying video, we interviewed Charles Khan, a field organizer for the Strong Economy for All organization, a coalition of some of the city’s and state’s biggest unions and community groups such as 1199SEIU, NYSUT and the Coalition for the Homeless.
Khan said that the groups rallied outside Governor Cuomo’s offices because they feel his budget leaves them out in the cold.
“Governor Cuomo said that he is trying to create an opportunity agenda, but all we see is the opportunity only for the rich to get richer and working people barely getting by. We came together to push our legislators to act more on behalf of our interests,” said Khan.
Khan would like to see a few things changed in the governor’s budget.
“We’d like to see a real minimum wage of $15 per hour, real affordable housing and funding our public schools,” Khan said.
Other speakers, including Donna Schaper, who is a senior minister of Judson Memorial Church and writes a regular column for The Huffington Post, joined him.
“The Governor of New York has put forward a budget that is fundamentally immoral because it gives too much to the few and too little to the many. We need help Governor Cuomo,” said Schaper.
She then led the group in prayer, “Let us pray. Spirit of the living God, we know your power, we know your power for good. Bring it to the great state of New York, and bring it to us and through us so that the few will cease to dominate the many. Amen!”
LeRoy Barr, assistant secretary of the United Federation of Teachers, said the state is facing a moral crisis.
“The lack of equity in funding is a deeply moral issue, so that’s why we’re here on Moral Mondays. Under Governor Cuomo’s watch, the gap between New York’s richest and poorest school districts has widened. The respected journal, Education Week, puts New York 9th for overall education, but 45th for the gap between what the richest and poorest districts spend on education. We ask, we need the Governor to listen to the people, and not his wealthy campaign contributors,” said Barr.
And Lauren George, associate director of Common Cause New York, said New York needs public financing especially in the wake of Sheldon Silver stepping down as Assembly chairman.
“Common Cause is here because we care about corruption and ethics and the money that corrupts our state governments. What’s underlying all the issues that all my colleagues have been speaking about is money in politics. So we want campaign finance reform so that we know when our legislators are receiving outside income, we know where it’s coming from. We now have a once in the lifetime opportunity [with Sheldon Silver stepping down] to enact true reform and change our state government,” said George.