Reprint, February 4, 2011
A new coalition of faith, labor, human service and community based organizations offered an alternative view of how New York State should address its fiscal and economic challenges yesterday. The Growing TogetherNY Budget Coalition is calling upon the Governor and the Legislature to balance the state budget in a way that uses existing resources efficiently and raises additional revenues in ways that will not harm our already fragile economy and will create jobs.
The Coalition asked the Governor and the Legislature to follow two simple principles; Put families First, and Preserve and Create Jobs.
“We believe that the cuts-only approach advanced by the Governor will further hinder the growth of New York’s economy and hurt the children and families hit hardest by the recession,” the group stated. “We will urge our Senate and Assembly members to mitigate the harmful impact of the cuts proposed by the Governor. We believe that now is not the time to be giving a $4.5 billion tax cut to New York’s wealthiest citizens. We also believe that we need to eliminate duplicative corporate tax credits and loopholes that allow large corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”
“Budgets are moral documents that reflect the values and priorities of a family, church, organization, city, state, or nation,” stated Reverend Jim Reisner, Westminster Presbyterian whose Church hosts a daily soup kitchen just a block from the Capitol. “Our political leadership’s tax cut mentality ignores “the least of these”— leaving them with crumbs from the feast of the comfortable.”
“Our state’s economic recovery cries out for a balanced approach to closing New York’s budget gap,” said Frank Mauro, Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute. “The budget proposed today by the Governor relies excessively on spending cuts, which would increase unemployment and intensify hardships for those bearing the brunt of the recession.”
The groups stressed that they are not looking for a confrontation with the Governor. “We believe that a healthy exchange of ideas is important in a democracy and we want to work with this Governor to get a result that is good for all of the residents of this state,” stated Ron Deutsch, Executive Director, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness. “The Governor has laid out his vision for dealing with the state’s fiscal crisis, we believe that if there is to be shared sacrifice we need to ask all New Yorkers to share in that sacrifice.”
“A generation from now, teachers will have a difficult time explaining to students that, in 2011, New York considered deep cuts to public schools and colleges, and thousands of layoffs for middle class workers, at the same time the proposed budget offered tax cuts to the wealthiest 3 percent of the state’s residents,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta.
“Lost in all the conversation about the budget is the fate of the poor, the elderly, the disabled – the entire ‘family of New York’. Allowing older New Yorkers to stay in their homes is about property taxes but also about services that allow them to remain living independently,” said Michael Burgess, public policy consultant, NY StateWide Senior Action Council and former Director NYS Office for Aging. “While we appreciate that the Governor maintains many services, the $58 million cut to the EPIC program and the elimination of the NY Connects Aging and Disability Resource Center will harm the health and economic security of tens of thousands of older and disabled persons.”
The Growing TogetherNY Budget Coalition Steering Committee is comprised of the following organizations: New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, Coalition for the Homeless, Community Voices Heard, Fiscal Policy Institute, Public Employees Federation, VOCAL-NY, Justice for Farm Workers Campaign, NYS Episcopal Public Policy Network, NYS United Teachers, Empire Justice Center, AFSCME NY, Citizen Action of NY, Alliance for Quality Education, Center for Working Families, Environmental Advocates of NY, NYS AFL-CIO, NYS Community Action Association, Hunger Action Network of NYS, and NY StateWide Senior Action Council.